What are some effective ways to increase the value of your home before selling?

Asked by Trulia, San Francisco, CA Fri Mar 2, 2012

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Mark Charter, Agent, Ankeny, IA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
Top 10 things to do to your home when selling:

I commonly get asked by home sellers what they should do to their homes to get them ready to put on the market. Now that I am blogging, here is my chance to share my Top 10 items with the world!

In no particular order, here we go:

1. Curb Appeal - It is said that a buyer will decide within the first 10 seconds if there is a chance they will buy the home. It is just a feeling buyers get that tells them "this could be the one!" and I can tell you, you want to make a buyer feel that way about your own home.

Start on the exterior and get to scrubbing! Rake the yard, mow the lawn, prune the shrubs, wash the windows, pick up loose debris. In short, you want your home to look like a postcard.

2. The Front Door - After the first impression, comes the front door. Often clients stand with me as I open the front door so they can see when I am having trouble putting the key in the lock or turning a dead bolt. When your front door is in need of repair, it sends a message to the buyer that says "well there is one thing we need to fix, what's next?"

Buy a new door if need be, I think it is worth it.

3. NO SMOKING! - Yes, it is your home and you are free to smoke in it or allow others to, but do so at your own peril. I have sold homes since 2005 and have been inside many that were clearly smoked in. I have NEVER had a buyer choose a smoked in home.

They say things about being able to get rid of the smell with new carpet and paint, but when push comes to shove, they choose the home that does not need the work done.

If you must smoke, do it outside. If you have smoked already, spend the extra money and get the smell removed. The value of your home will go up and you will be on the market fewer days.

4. WOW! What color was that? - This is common when it comes to kid rooms. The crazy hues that are fun for kids are distracting for buyers.

After I have shown a number of homes in a day and I am recapping them with clients, I will ask if they liked a certain house. It is bad when they say "Was that the one with the Purple room?"

You do NOT want your house to stick out because of an obnoxious color. That is leaving buyers with the wrong impression. Since you are selling, you should no longer care about YOUR colors. Paint those rooms a comfortable neutral color and you will win in the end.

5. Pictures! - This one is a hot topic and probably the one item I cover the most. In my opinion people go a little crazy with thinking they have to take down ALL of their family photos. I do not think that is the case.

The thing to avoid here is bulk. I am reminded of my grandparent's home where they had every grandchild (20+) on one wall. That is too much.

There is nothing wrong with family photos if they look great and do not overwhelm a wall or table. Stick to small groupings of photos with nice frames and you should be fine.

6. Become Mr. or Mrs. Fix It - Every home has those small annoying issues we ignore over time. Things like broken light switch covers, loose railings, running toilets, chipped paint, scratched floors, torn carpet and on and on it goes.

My best advice is to eliminate those things. When it comes to homes we tend to think differently than we should.

If you went to the store to buy a shirt, would you buy it if it had a hole in it or a big stain on the front? Probably not, because you expect it to be perfect. Or, you might buy it but ask for a large discount at the counter.

Selling a home should be thought of in the same way. You do not want your buyer thinking discount when it comes time for them to write the offer.

Take care of the things that bother you about your home because more than likely they will bother the buyer too.

7. Let there be Light - This one has to do with when your home is on the market as well as getting ready to be put on the market. When it comes to real estate, lighter is better.

Dark rooms make spaces look small. Burnt out lights give a bad impression of the homeowner not caring about the house. Drawn shades are never a good thing.

When your house is going to be shown, turn on all the lights and open up all the curtains and shades.

Before your house is listed, make sure every light is working, and if you can safely increase the brightness of a room by going with a different light bulb, do it.
1 vote
Ali Qureshi, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Wed Jul 23, 2014
Paint, flooring, kitchen and bathroom upgrade. Buyers are paying top dollar for houses that have all upgrades. ROI works out in the favor of sellers.
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Sun Jul 13, 2014
Kitchens and bathrooms are always a safe bet but if you want to keep the expense to a minimum consider hiring a professional to stage your home. A well staged home can definitely increase its value.
0 votes
Derek Jones, Agent, Elk Grove, CA
Sun Jul 13, 2014
It depends on the current condition of your house and other houses in your neighborhood. Like others mentioned kitchens and bathrooms are big. Nice neutral paint inside and outside, new carpeting and flooring. But the thing people will see before that is curb appeal. Might want to hire a landscaper to clean up and improve your front yard landscaping.
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Cheryl Berger, Agent, Berkeley, CA
Fri Jul 20, 2012
From a realtor/ investors point of view, if you are trying to get top dollar for your home, upgrades to the kitchen and bathrooms are key. As well as landscaping, painting, refinishing hard wood floors or replacing old carpet. Have an updated roof and gutters can add to the curb appeal of a house. If you really wanted to go all out you can make sure that all your systems are updated electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drainage and sewer. I also feel staging is so important for getting the most for your money when selling. A fresh and inviting look to your home goes a long way with potential buyers.
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed Mar 28, 2012
The usual and least expensive ways are the 4 C's

1. Clean -- that includes clean smell. That also pertains to cooking odors (fried fish? Yuck!) and pet odors

2. De-Clutter -- pack away, give away, sell. The general rule is to put away 50% of what you have in the house. Box them up, store them away. Less is definitely more!

3. Color -- repaint if necessary, over garish colors. Remember that you want to appeal to the general masses, not your personal taste any longer. Forget about neon brights....go neutral and sedate.

4. Curb appeal --- first few seconds outside, and the buyers will make a decision whether to enter or not. Look at your property on the outside --- peeling paint? broken windows/doors? unkempt yard? missing front porch lights? dirty? messy?

Finally, check out Cost vs Value from Remodeling online that shows you the cost of projects (high end, and minimal) and what you can expect to recoup.

Here's the link for the San Francisco area

Hope this helps :)
0 votes
This was a very helpful post, Thanks Pacita!
Flag Sun Jun 17, 2012
Mark Charter, Agent, Ankeny, IA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
8. Update - It may seem silly to spend money before you sell, but if I told you your house could sell in two weeks compared to 2 years, would you do it? I will assume the answer to that question is YES!

The one thing that is most obvious when it comes to something being outdated is the kitchen appliances. It is easy to tell when they have been around since the 80's or 90's. For less than $2000, you can get a brand new microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher and stove that will spice up your kitchen and make buyers take notice.

The same can be true for counter-tops. If your kitchen is still featuring yellow Formica, do yourself a favor and head to Lowes and choose a new counter today.

9. Get Rid of the Clutter - You are moving right? Well if you are you will have to pack anyway so get started early. Take an inventory and anything you do not need box up and get it out of the way. A cluttered closet looks bad because it makes it look SMALL! You can probably box up half your closet and not miss a thing for a few months.

Clear your bathroom counter of anything you don't need on a daily basis, or better yet, find a drawer for those things.

Kitchens need to be CLEAN! Clear the counters there with the exception of everyday appliances like toasters and maybe a nice vase with some flowers in it. I am a huge fan of fresh flowers in a home. They can make a place seem very warm and inviting.

10. Remove the "Buts" - I tell all of my clients this. When I am talking to a buyer about a house and they say "I like it BUT. . ." that is not a good thing for the seller.

Sometimes those buts can be things you cannot change like location, but often times they are within your control. Walk around your home. What bothers you? If it bothers you, it will likely bother a buyer too.

Your goal should be getting your home as close to perfection as possible. If you do that, you can feel good about your chances of selling your home.

Just remember, when you live in your home, you are a homeowner. When you are selling your home, you are a home seller. Those are two very different things to be. Selling a home can be tricky and annoying, but if you take these steps, the process will likely be much more enjoyable for you.
0 votes
sweet203k, Both Buyer And Seller, Alameda, CA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
If you are planning on spending money to make the house marketable, assuming you're not Bill Gates and have budget constraints like the rest of us, then you want to get the most bang for your buck. The best thing you can do to your home, and wallet, is spend exactly where it is proven to directly produce a faster sell and at a higher value, than all your competition. I'm telling you something you already know, so let me tell you how to do just that. Get your house signed up for the Energy Upgrade California Whole House program, http://www.energyupgradeca.org, and recieve at least $4,000 in rebates for doing it. (the ave costs for upgrade work is $8k - $12k) The work performed will absolutley guarantee: Cleaner indoor air quality (EPA officially declared indoor air 3- 5x worse than outside, no wonder our kids have asthma!), consistant thermal comfort in every room, year round, better operation and less maintenence to your mechanical (HVAC) systems, combustion appliance safety testing to prevent long term low level carbon monoxide poisoning (the #1 cause of accidental deaths in the US, and it's not how you think it happens, it's situational, you want to depend on hope? as in, hoping you and your household never create a situation for carbon monoxide poisoning?), best of all the house will reduce it's carbon footprint, reduce it's air polution potential, save on energy and natural resources, and last but not least... lower utility bills, lower utility bills, lower util...oh, did I mention lower utility bills?
Which house do you think buyers will want when yours is more affordable, enviornmentally responsible, healthier to live in, requires less maintenence, all regardless of asking price? Your home guarantees a lower monthly overhead. What lender wouldn't like that, which, by the way, is working it's way into law as we speak. Lenders in the near future Will address utility bills of a home.
Feel free to contact me with any of your questions. sweet203k@gmail.com I am not, and will not try to sell you anything. I am a building scientist, referred to as a Building Performance Analyst sometimes, as well as other titles. I also won't share my opinion of real estate agents, on here at least lol, as I've worked with lots. And if you do deside to improve your house responsibly, look for a RE agent that does Green listings so you get the value you deserve. I believe you can find them listed on the Build It Green website: http://www.builditgreen.org and I do know a few of those I could pass onto you. Have a wonderful week and good luck with your home!
0 votes
John DeMarin…, Agent, Danville, CA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
Check out this Blog post on my website regarding: Tips For Maximizing Your Home’s Appraised Value in San Ramon.
0 votes
Sue Mobley, Agent, Guerneville, CA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
Kitchens and baths can be a good way to increase the value of your home before a sale.
0 votes
updating the kitchen and baths I mean
Flag Tue Mar 27, 2012
Gina Odom, Agent, Santa Cruz, CA
Tue Mar 27, 2012
I suggest getting inspection reports and completing some of the necessary work. In addition to the reports, I would update appliances, light fixtures, etc.. You may want to consider painting, new carpets/refinishing hardwood floors and definitely staging.
0 votes
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