Home Home Improvement Getting Your Home Ready to Sell: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

by Eric Rothman
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If you’re about to list your home for sale you’re probably wondering how to get the most value from the sale. Often, this includes making needed repairs, doing some form of decluttering and depersonalization, and ensuring that the house and surrounding property are ready for inspectors and potential buyers.

While there’s plenty of advice on what to do to get your home ready to sell, there are also some practices to avoid if you want to get the biggest return on your investment. We hope to save you some additional time and money with a simple list of where you shouldn’t focus your efforts.

What Not To Do To Your House Before You Sell

1. Do Not Completely Overhaul Your Kitchen

While a beautiful kitchen can sell a home, kitchen design is personal, and it can get expensive, with high-end renovations running from $30,000 to $100,000 or more.

In fact, nationally, a major kitchen remodel of $68,490 recoups just 58.6% of that investment at sale, while a minor one of $23,452 does a bit better, returning 77.6%.

As to the argument that a new kitchen may sell our homes faster, that’s only if we nail the prospective buyer’s taste — if we go traditional and they wanted modern, the buyer won’t pay more and may feel bad about having to rip it out and start over.

2. Do Not Fully Overhaul Your Bathroom

There’s reason to focus on the bathroom when you’re putting your home up for sale. At a minimum, people want to see a clean bathroom that smells nice and has clear counters.

A full renovation will start at about $10,000 and can easily jump to $30,000. And the full cost may not be recouped. Based on national numbers, a $17,908 remodel nets just 65.7% of your investment upon resale, according to Remodeling.hw.net.

As long as your bathroom is clean and functional, small upgrades are usually the way to go

3. Do Not Paint Your Whole House White

Most advice to potential sellers is give the entire interior a fresh coat of paint for a clean look and to cover up color. But that doesn’t mean everything needs to be stark white.

In fact, rooms without much natural light, especially if they’re small, can look downright sad and institutional when painted a bright white.

Instead, choose warm neutral tones or those with hints of color (greys and blues work well). Or choose an accent wall to paint a brighter color in a room that needs some pop.

4. Do Not Stuff Everything Into Your Closets

We know we’re supposed to declutter and depersonalize visible spaces before we sell our homes. But it’s a mistake to just stuff those extra kitchen doodads into drawers, cabinets, closets.

Buyers open drawers and cabinets and they peek into closets – even in the garage. If they’re stuffed to the brim, the message is that there’s not enough storage space in the home: a big turnoff.

By contrast, organized closets let buyers daydream that “if I lived here, my closets could be this neat and orderly too.”

5. Do Not Strip Away the Character

While sellers will want their home to appeal to as many buyers as possible, we shouldn’t destroy the home’s character in that attempt.

If you’ve got a Craftsman bungalow, play up that charm and don’t renovate it into a modern bachelor pad. If your place has a Spanish feel, then don’t decorate it like a Nantucket beach getaway. Play up your home’s charms and the right buyers will respond.

Questions sellers should ask before embarking on a major home remodel

If you’re not sure where to invest your money before listing your home, we recommend talking to an experienced agent who knows the local market and what buyers are looking for. During an initial consultation, your agent will go with you through your home and help you identify the improvements and touch ups that are likely to generate the greatest return. They will also be able to give you an estimate of how much your home could be worth with and without these types of improvements.

At REX, we offer homeowners up to 1% of their home’s value (capped at $5,000) to cover the upfront costs of home prep. Regardless of who you work with the list your home, it’s important to do your homework and think through the implications of any work you plan to put in. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before embarking on a major remodel.

How hot is the market?

If the market is hot enough, it won’t matter that you haven’t updated your kitchen in 10 years. Buyers who are just desperate to get into an area (for prime location or schools, for instance) will overlook things like outdated appliances that would be an issue in a softer market.

How does my home compare to other homes in the area?

If most homes for sale in your area have pristine designer kitchens and baths, then yours will likely sell for less. If that’s an issue, you may want to upgrade. Sprucing it up with small upgrades can help you sell it faster without incurring the cost of an expensive remodel. On the other hand, if your home is already the most expensive on the block, you’ll be unlikely to recoup your investment.

Who’s buying in my area?

Is it singles who want the ease of move-in ready, or young families looking for a bargain to slowly update themselves? Or is it investors purchasing homes for teardown? Any updates you make to the property should reflect your potential buyers’ mindsets. Your agent should be able to inform you of trends they are seeing among local home buyers.

How much is my time worth if I do commit to a substantial upgrade?

It’s not just about how much money a renovation will cost, but also how much of your time it will take up. Time is money, and you should factor it into your decision, too.

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