If you want to sell your house, you’re going to have to do something about all that weird, gross stuff you have all over the place. And not just the dog hair and the mysterious stain on the entryway carpet – the dated countertops and the old sink fixtures too.
But how do you know when (or where) to stop?
It’s like when you decide you’re fed up with that pile of shoes on your closet floor, so you set about to sorting them, then you have to go through the clothes and all the things that aren’t even clothes like wrapping paper, gifts people gave you that you don’t want, sleeping bags and books you intend to read.
When you get carried away cleaning your closet, usually only good can come out of it. Unless after you take everything out, you get discouraged and leave it in a pile on the floor and go watch some TV.
But it’s not necessarily the same with home renovations. Not much good can come out of making renovations that don’t bring a higher selling price.
So what should you prioritize when getting ready to sell your home?
- Fix anything that’s broken. The more visibly broken it is, the more important it is. If your dryer only runs on hot, potential buyers won’t see this. You can tell them later. But if a switch plate is cracked, a heating vent grate is missing, a doorknob doesn’t turn, a railing is rickety — these are disastrous when you’re selling your house.
Go through the rooms one by one and make a list of what needs to be fixed. You can likely do a lot of it yourself.
- Paint. Unless you had the walls painted within the last two years, you should have fresh coats put on everywhere. Get the trim done too. And don’t pick colors you like; pick neutral tones that will appeal to everyone.
- Assess your kitchen. The kitchen is arguably the most important room in the house when it comes to selling. Some people may only set foot in their kitchens to grab a beer out of the fridge, but they aren’t the ones who can afford to buy your house. You have to be careful here, however. Stainless steel appliances and granite countertops are what people want. But if your appliances are relatively new and your countertops still look nice but they’re Corian, you should leave them. The return on investment for home renovations is never 100 percent, and if you’re replacing good with better, it’s usually not worth it. If your countertops are Formica or stained or chipped, or if you have to keep an old towel underneath the front of your fridge because it always leaks, then these items have to be replaced anyway, so go all out and get what people want.
- Assess your bathroom. This room is almost as important as the kitchen, and you should apply the same principle. If you recently redid your bathroom with a one-piece acrylic tub/shower unit and you have a nice, new curtain hanging there, leave it. If you have the original tub with mildew growing on the caulk and a couple of missing tiles, it’s time for a redo. And what home buyers want today is frameless shower doors with no tub at all.
- Look at your floors. If they’re carpet, people likely are going to be turned off. Everyone wants hardwood floors. No one has time to vacuum anymore. If you have hardwood under your carpets, seriously consider tearing out the carpet and refinishing the floors. It will make a huge difference. If your floors aren’t hardwood, at least get some new carpet. If you already have hardwood, but it’s full of dog toenail scratches, get them buffed out. Some hardwood floors are in such bad shape they have to be completely sanded down to the bare wood and refinished, but scratches that are light enough sometimes can be removed with less effort – and for less money.
These are the biggies when it comes to selling a house, but other factors come into play, like proper staging — always ask your Realtor for his or her advice about what you need to do to your home to get it show-ready. Maybe by the time you’re done, it will look so great you won’t even want to move!