It’s that time of year again…some people have a bit of extra cash thanks to their tax refund. Most
people buy a special treat with it, like a new fancy TV or some other extravagance that has been put off until tax-time. Some folks are thinking about selling their home in the near future and want to make some improvements to make their home yield a higher sales price.
I’ve seen articles suggesting luxurious master suites with in-floor radiant heating, kitchen renovations, back yard living spaces, and a whole host of other expensive, and in my opinion, less-than-practical “improvements.”
Before you invest any money in an expensive upgrade to your home, ask yourself:
- Do other similar homes near me have these kinds of upgrades?
- Will my life be noticeably improved by this upgrade?
Sometimes, the fact that you want it is enough…but don’t expect it to necessarily add more to your bottom line. While fancy exotic upgrades are intriguing, having them will not guarantee that buyers will flock to your home with full price offers or that the appraiser will say “Hey, this home is worth $XX,XXX more than the other homes because of these awesome upgrades!” It may however, be extremely satisfying to YOU and therein lies the most important value: how it has improved YOUR life. Don’t expect upgrades or additions to automatically pay off at the closing table.
Getting your home ready to sell should involve more sensible & practical (in my opinion) investments. These seem mundane and not-so-glamorous. Oh well!
- Replace worn flooring. If you wish to stay with carpeting; choose something neutral and durable. Lighter colors are your best bet because it will make your home look roomier and brighter. Hardwood floors are always popular with buyers, but not absolutely necessary. What really matters to buyers is that the flooring be clean and in excellent condition. Check for signs of rot around problem areas such as entry doors, the bathroom, laundry room – anyplace where moisture could have caused rot – and repair as necessary.
- Replace old windows. If your thermal pane windows have seen better days and have begun to fog, replace them. Any cracked windows obviously need to be replaced. Check sills and trim for signs of wear or rot and repair/re-stain/replace as necessary.
- Railings. Are your railings up to current codes? Do they look safe & sturdy? If not…fix them!
- Kitchen. Before deciding that granite or manufactured quartz counters, Brazilian floors, Bosch
appliances, and hickory cabinetry is the way to go, look at other homes in your price range. You could save some big bucks with a nice, tasteful Formica counter upgrade & more modest appliances. Remember to keep your upgrades within reason of your home’s price range. Don’t be all granite and stainless in a Formica & Hotpoint neighborhood!
- Upgrade Appliances? If your appliances are getting up there in age (I was lamenting about my “new fridge” not working properly, until I realized it was actually almost 17 years old!) consider upgrading to ENERGY STAR appliances. Make up your own mind about stainless steel, remembering that though it is the “rage” these days, once upon a time, avocado green was also “the rage” back in the day! I do think ENERGY STAR appliances are worth the investment.
- Bathroom. Ugh – did you fall for the mauve or country blue rage of the recent past? It may very well
be worth the investment to totally renovate & get rid of a pink or blue tub, toilet, & sink. Non-fiberglass fixtures may be able to be painted. Another alternative is to invest in updating the flooring, add fresh paint for the walls, and then buy charming modern accents to compliment & upstage your less than modern fixtures.
Chocolate brown & silver looks lovely with various shades of blue. That same chocolate and other shades of brown, tan, and a little white can make the mauve look more modern too.
If you can’t replace it, decorate it! Also, replace brass faucets & shower heads with brushed nickel ones. Have a hideous old brass light fixture by the medicine cabinet? Spray paint it black for a modern look!
- While you’re messing around with the bathroom you may want to check the caulking around the tub & toilet area…replace as necessary! Check for minor leaks in the bath, kitchen, and laundry area and fix – these always come home to roost after the home inspection. Get them fixed now to avoid crazy buyer demands later!
- Paneling. OMG, the biggest complaint I get from home
buyers is about PANELING in older homes. While people like hardwood floors and new kitchens, the thought of replacing room after room of dark, dingy, depressing paneling is a big turn off to buyers. Before you nay-sayers start protesting “But my paneling is BEAUTIFUL and LOVELY and it is NOT CHEAP, it was TOP OF THE LINE…” please note: very few people agree with you. Since 2007, I think maybe 2 buyers have told me that they love homes with paneling, everyone else loathes it. A cheap, though rather time-consuming fix for this is to paint it. You need to lightly sand the surface, wipe it down, and apply primer before painting. Some hold up their hands and say “That will look awful!” but I maintain – if it is done properly, it will look lovely!
- Landscaping. You don’t have to go crazy installing water features like koi ponds or waterfalls in your yard to appeal to buyers, but you may wish to put down fresh mulch, and make a sidewalk if you
don’t have one. Add some flower beds around the house. This does NOT have to be exotic or fancy – it should look trim, tidy, and well-cared for. Add flower boxes with bright blooms to your deck or add window boxes under your front windows.
- Exterior Curb Appeal. Now would be a great time to replace your ancient front door with a new efficient entry door and classy storm door. Maybe add shutters to the front of your home and choose a charming, contrasting trim color to make your eaves & windows stand out (like when a gal puts on eye shadow & mascara).
- RENT A DUMPSTER. So many people overlook this very important part of getting your home ready for sale. “Upgrade” your shed, garage, porch, yard, & closets by DUMPING all the JUNK NOW – do not wait until it’s time to move. Just do it NOW. Get rid of all old clutter – things you never use, don’t use, don’t want, haven’t used in 2 years, don’t need, and can’t give away. Just get rid of it, inside and out! Look at your home with a critical eye. (The best way to do this is to video or take pictures of your home and yard – then cringe at the stuff you may see lying around!)
I have several Pinterest boards dedicated to the home; check out my Home Improvements board. While there, click around some of the others: Small Home Ideas, Dream Home Wish List, Odds & Ends of Great Ideas, Household Hints, and more!
Hope these practical tips help you as the homeowner. As always, if you’re ready to sell your home in either Pike or Wayne County and the general Lake Wallenpaupack region of the Poconos and need to talk with an agent: I’m your girl!