If you’re looking to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, there are some lesser-known words that match the importance of the famous real estate phrase “location, location, location.”
Those all-important words? Curb appeal.
As the saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” When people drive up and first see your house, you want them to think of it immediately as a home that has been maintained and well cared for.
“It’s you putting your best foot forward,” says Christy Biberich, owner of Christy B. Design in Los Angeles who appears on the HGTV show “Brother Vs. Brother.” “We do judge a book by its cover.”
“Every property is completely different,” says Cannon Christian, president of Renovation Realty in San Diego, a company that helps sellers make improvements designed to get them top dollar. “The little things that get people through the front door matter first.”
Obviously you don’t want to spend money that you won’t get back. Christian advises seeing what improvements house flippers are making in your neighborhood. Comparing the sales prices of, say, homes with older kitchens to homes with kitchens that have been updated is also a good idea. If you see about a $50,000 difference, a $25,000 remodel is likely a smart investment. If homes with original kitchens are fetching close to the same price as those with renovated ones, save your money, since sometimes “it also depends on how hot the market is,” Christian says.
You should also spend time scoping out the competition by viewing listings and photos of similar homes for sale and attending open houses in your neighborhood.
Once prospective buyers are inside your home, you want to make sure the entire house puts its best foot forward. That starts with cleaning and decluttering, two improvements that cost little money and provide a big return.
Next, focus on low-cost “transformative improvements,” Biberich says. “The No. 1 thing you can do is paint.” She advises using neutral tones, but that doesn’t have to mean just white and beige, as brown and cream are also safe choices.
Since every dollar counts, hold off on pet projects and only devote your time and money to renovations that’ll bring you a return. “If you’re looking to sell, do not do the improvements that you’ve always wanted to do,” Christian says.
If, like most sellers, you have a limited budget, here are a dozen home improvements you can make to sell your house for top dollar.
Improve your landscape.
Put down fresh sod, replace tired bushes with new ones and add some color, either with flower beds or potted flowers. “Even just a little bit goes a long way,” Biberich says.
Spruce up your entryway.
Buy a new front door or paint the old one. If your house number and mailbox look tired, buy and install new ones.
Change out light fixtures and plumbing fixtures.
Gold light fixtures are long outdated, and brass is less popular than brushed nickel. Replacing outdated ceiling fixtures and bathroom faucets can give your home a modern touch for a minimal investment.
Clarify any spaces that might confuse buyers.
If you have an odd alcove, add a desk or a dresser – something that will suggest how the space is best used. “Most homes have some funky or dysfunctional things that can be corrected,” Biberich says. Don’t keep would-be buyers guessing.
Do partial renovations.
Rather than gutting an old bathroom, for example, consider getting a new vanity and refacing the existing tub. In the kitchen, keep the old cabinets but replace the countertops and the hardware.