A little effort can result in a big pay day
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Selling your home should not be difficult in today’s seller’s market. However, a few extra touches can help you get more for your home. It all begins outside.
Carolyn Stiffler, senior real estate specialist recognized by the National Association of Realtors, sells for ReMax Plus in Greece. She advises homeowners to especially work on the outside of their homes.
“Curb appeal is critical before someone goes through the front door,” Stiffler said.
That includes clean windows, no peeling exterior and maintenance up to date. Ignoring some of these “will limit the number of possible offers,” Stiffler said.
If you think that it is OK to sell it “as is” for a fixer-upper, you automatically reduce the number of people interested in your home. Stiffler said that since many young couples work, they lack the time to do the work themselves. Many also do not know how.
“If interest rates rise to what they were in the early ‘90s, buyers would be more apt to take on houses that need work, such as removing wallpaper, exposing hardwood floors, but not necessarily with a low interest rate of 3-3.5%,” Stiffler said.
She advises sellers to remove curtains and draperies to let in the light and replace them with two-inch wide shades, either vertical or horizontal.
“Buyers today in this market are more willing to take a dated kitchen and bath than they would have been four or five years ago just to buy a house,” Stiffler said. “But buyers will always desire newer mechanics and well-maintained homes over outdated and deferred maintenance.”
Ideally, provide any warranties, receipts and records of work done on the house and of any major fixtures and appliances you have replaced, which Stiffler calls a “good resource” to buyers.
Ginny Hronek, real estate agent with Howard Hanna in Pittsford, advises painting the house inside, removing personal photos and de-cluttering.
“Keep in mind that you’re selling space, not your knickknacks,” she said. “Less is more when it comes to having things out on tables, buffets. Always have fresh flowers in the house, particularly for when the photos are taken.”
If you have photos of your home’s exterior during the different seasons, create a scrapbook to leave out during showings. Hronek also advised heating a pot of water with drops of vanilla extract before a showing to create the homey aroma of freshly baked cookies.
“Have good illumination throughout the house,” Hronek said. “Every time there’s a showing, have all the lights on. Clean the lightbulbs or put in fresh ones. Try to bring in as much natural light as possible.”
If you’re able to do some updating, the two most expensive rooms—the kitchen and bath—are the bestselling features.
“Probably a room that’s the least important is the playroom or a craft room,” Hronek said.
Some kitchen spruce-ups are not as costly as others. For example, changing the cabinet hardware and painting wood cupboards white can make them instantly current. Hronek also recommended replacing the bathroom light fixtures as an inexpensive upgrade. Look through a few décor websites. Some things that your home has had a long enough time may be retro cool again and should stay put.
Nino Vitale, owner of Nino Vitale Interiors in Pittsford, has worked in real estate in the past. He recommends streamlining the home’s décor.
“The eye doesn’t like to see too much clutter,” Vitale said. “I steer towards the simpler side. The home should be more than overindulged with stuff.
“I always tell people when they’re looking to sell a home, think of putting your personal style away. You need something that’s appealing for a lot of people. If you’re a MacKenzie-Childs person, it might be too taste-specific and turn a buyer off.”
The distinctive checkered MacKenzie-Childs pattern may charm you but seem too busy to someone else.
Color also matters. He recommends coordinating the home’s color inside and out. For example, pillows on the outside furniture should coordinate with the colors in the hanging baskets on the porch and the accent color throughout the house. But keep bright colors as the accent.
“If a house is painted robin’s egg blue, most people can’t look past that,” Vitale said.
Sometimes, a drab house can look completely different with a pop of color. Pastel blue shutters on a taupe house is a simple choice, but boring. While painting the whole house is costly, “doors and shutters are very easy to change the look of a home,” Vitale said. “It’s a D-I-Y project over the weekend.”
A contrasting color such as plum or navy on taupe would look much more attractive than a light color on a drab color. But don’t go for a zany pattern or oddball color like lime.
“When a house is well put together inside and out, it’s easy to imagine living there, not forcing the brain to say, ‘What would it look like if I did this?’” Vitale said. “You’ve done the work for them. It makes it easier to sell your house.”
He warned sellers not to try too hard. Just a charming color scheme and a few strategically placed accents are enough.
A few tasteful touches are like a woman wearing earrings and a necklace, but not her whole jewelry box.
“The moment you want to sell your home, you need to detach yourself from it emotionally,” Vitale said. “You have to ‘beige-ify’ it. That way, a potential buyer can work with this. They’re not fixated on the distinct style. If it’s really fussy landscaping or lots of color all over, a new homeowner may be turned off.”