For years it has been well regarded that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes but this is a new market and the rules are shifting. There is probably not a time in the conceivable future that a kitchen or bathroom remodel is not going to return most of what is invested in it, nor will there be a similar time when that isn’t the case that an outdated kitchen or bath will put off a potential buyer.
1. Get them to the door: without curb appeal there is little chance that the buyer will ever get out of their car. Scruffy, wild and unkempt landscapes are a trigger that the house may also be in disrepair. Buyers want houses that are loved, cared for and maintained. This starts with the daisies at the door, the length of the grass and the tasteful appearance of the house as people drive by. If your house screams neglect the only people who will stop are those looking for a deal.
2. Clutter and Dirt are expensive: the first rule of real estate is that you are selling square footage. The less clutter, the more people can see and appreciate the available square footage. Kitchen magnets, family photos and your precious collection of elephants or saltshakers are all important to you, but they can be distracting to the buyer. Take excess clutter out of the house completely. Dusty, dirty and cluttered make the buyer think broken, expensive to fix and unattractive.
3. Neutral sells: it doesn’t matter if it took you 8 years to find the perfect shade of purple to match the jerseys of your alma mater. It doesn’t matter that the ornate bathroom sink and faucet are a replica of Cleopatra’s. It matters that these are your choices, not the choices of the market and most importantly not the choice of that potential buyer who just walked into to find a golden asp climbing around the sink. Repaint the walls to a warm neutral. White can be as off putting to potential buyers as that royal shade of purple. Warm tans and beiges, soft grays or warmer off-whites are best bets. There are trendy colors that are released every year, if you are in a market where that matters, consider the most neutral new color but timeless classics are a safer bet.
4. All the house is a stage: buyers need to picture themselves in the house. Empty houses don’t sell as well as staged houses. If you use proper staging techniques or the use of a professional stager the house will focus on the important features, like French doors or panoramic views. It will also allow the buyer to scope the room in contrast to their furniture. One of the nice advantages of staging is that the home is clean, organized and has great flow. Furniture used to stage must be clean and in good repair. If it is as dated as the house it will fail to provide the backdrop necessary to allow the buyer to want the life this house offers as well as the square footage.
5. Switches and bulbs: bright spaces with modern lighting fixtures add to spacious and clean feeling of the house. There is a transparency that comes with great lighting, and nothing dates the house like that seventies light fixture. It makes the buyer wonder what else needs updating.
If you want to maximize the value of your house, remodeling the bathroom, adding a master suite and redoing the kitchen maybe great ideas; but are more likely out of the budget. Try the clean, neutral, staged, bright house with great curb appeal and see what it does to the offered price.