We always read articles that tell us what to do to get your house ready to sell to maximize your net take home. But does it really matter? Aren’t houses in this area selling really quickly no matter what you do to make it look better? The short answer is YES, it really does matter!
Q: Why do I need to do anything to get my house ready for sale…its going to sell quickly no matter what!
A: There are 2 sides to this answer: 1. Yes, most houses in this area DO sell very quickly and one of the reasons is: 2. REALTORS in this area are very good about knowing what to do to make a house look as appealing as possible which allows them to sell quickly at top dollar.
Q: OK, I get that I should spruce up my house before it goes on the market but can’t I do it all myself?
A: Absolutely. There is nothing magical about what a good agent will do to help you get your house ready for sale. The reality is that a good agent will: 1. Give you good advice on WHAT to do and 2. Will often be connected with good contractors who will get the job done quickly and at a better price than you might be able to get on your own.
Q: How do I know if I should do some fix up or not?
A: If you don’t think you can get at least twice what it cost in a higher price, its probably not worth doing. Sometimes, its not worth it to do anything to a house if you think the new owner might just tear it down to build a new house. This is a case where buyers are more concerned with location and lot size than they are about the house itself.
Q: What sorts of things should I focus on?
A: Typically cosmetic fixes and anything safety-related. Here is a list of some of the top improvements:
Focus on the Front of the House (Curb Appeal). Many buyers have made decisions even before they get through the front door. So, Give the yard a haircut, get rid of weeds, new house numbers and mailbox (or at least new paint), pressure wash the driveway and walkways, paint the front door, add new welcoming light fixtures at the front door, add some fun, colorful plantings, sweep off the roof, etc. A fresh coat of exterior paint really makes a house look inviting.
Interior: Fresh paint is a must and either replace the carpets or refinish the floors.
Popcorn ceilings are a real negative and should be removed if possible.
Replacing outdated light fixtures and mismatched door knobs/handles is an easy way to upgrade without spending a lot of money. Replacing all the light switch and plug covers costs about $50 and is well worth it.
A deep cleaning is a must…not just by you but by a professional. Houses for sale need to look and smell spotless.
Staging: while this can add to your budget, it REALLY does help sell your house and is a wise investment.
Q: How much will all this cost?
A: Most people selling their houses spend in the $20-50,000 range…sometimes a lot more. But if you considered that most houses in this area are selling in the $2MM+ range, it is a great investment and you’ll usually double or triple your money.
Q: Should I get this all done before I choose an agent?
A: Usually no because a good agent will advise you on the most important things that Buyers are looking for in today’s market. Remember, it doesn’t matter what YOU like, you need to appeal to today’s buyers who will be the ones writing the big checks.
Owen Halliday is a REALTOR who manages the Sereno Group Real Estate office in downtown Los Altos. If you have a subject you’d like addressed in a future column, Owen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-492-0062.