Minor repairs help make your home more appealing, reduces the buyers ability to raise objections when making an offer, and deters haggling during the home inspection after you are under contract.
Do not do anything expensive, such as remodeling. If possible, use savings to pay for any repairs and improvements – do not go charging up credit cards or obtaining new loans. Remember that part of selling a house is also preparing to buy your next home. You do not want to do anything that will affect your credit scores or hurt your ability to qualify for your next mortgage.
There is much argument within the real estate industry as to which area of your home should have priority in being repaired first. One school of thought is the exterior is more important because a prospective home buyer’s first impression of a home is based on his or her reaction to the house from the real estate agent’s car. The other school of thought says the interior of the house should be prepared first because it’s easier. Personally, I think it should be the area that is in the most need.
Here are some tips on fixing up both areas of your home:
Painting your walls and ceilings can be one of the best investments you can make when selling your home and often makes the most impact. It is a relatively inexpensive operation and often you can do the work yourself. Do not choose colors based on your own preferences, but based on what would appeal to the widest number of buyers. Your wisest choice would be a neutral color such as an off-white because white helps your rooms appear bright and spacious. Check all the ceiling and walls for water stains. Sometimes old leaks leave stains, even after you have repaired the leak. Paint sometimes will not cover a stain fully and a primer may need to be used. Of course, if you still have a leak, you will need to have it properly repaired whether it is a plumbing problem or a roof leak. Patch any holes as necessary.
Unless your carpet appears old and worn, or it is definitely an outdated style or color, it is probably best to not replace it. Hiring a good reputable carpet cleaning service should be all that’s necessary. If you should choose to replace it, do so with something that is inexpensive and like the paint you put on your walls and ceilings, it should be a fairly neutral color.
Ceramic floor tiles can be a little more tricky. Hopefully when you had that tile put in you saved the extra pieces for such an occasion. If not, your only real option is to try to find something similar. Repairing or replacing lost tiles is a fairly simple procedure. Your replacement tiles, a little tub of mastic, a small bag of grout, and a little scraping of old mortar and this job’s done.
If you have wood floors, fix any scratches and wax if necessary. Consider refinishing if the condition of the finish is so poor that waxing doesn’t help.
Plumbing and Fixtures:
All your sink fixtures should look shiny and new. Many home centers sell cleaners that can take off hard water deposits and stains. If this doesn’t accomplish the task, consider purchasing new ones where needed. Most fixtures today are fairly easy to install and if you don’t buy something too fancy, they are usually inexpensive. Make sure all of the hot and cold water knobs turn easily and work properly. If any of the faucets leak, replace the washers, which is not usually too difficult. Check beneath the sinks to see if there are any tell-tale signs of water leaks that may need to be prepared. Re-caulk sinks, tubs, and showers as necessary.
Doors and Windows:
Check all your doors to make sure they open and close properly without creaking. If they do, a little shot of WD40 on the hinges should make the creak go away. Be sure all the doorknobs are in proper working order and wipe both sides of the door with a damp cloth. It’s amazing how much dust can accumulate on a door. Paint if necessary.
Do the same with your windows, slide them open and close to insure they are working properly. Check for any obstructions and clean the channels if necessary. Make sure there are no cracked or broken panes. If there are, replace them before you begin showing your home.
Pets of all kinds create odors that you may have become use to, but are immediately noticeable to non-pet owners. If you have cats, be sure to empty the litter boxes on a daily basis. Also consider employing any odor control products that can be sprinkled in with the litter. If you have dogs, try to keep your dog(s) outdoors as much as possible and clean up after your dog(s) daily. Indoors, you might try sprinkling carpet freshener on the carpet on a periodic basis. If your home has any caged pets like birds, rabbits, hamsters, etc. consider cleaning their cages as frequently as possible.
For those who smoke, try to minimize smoking indoors while trying to sell your home as this is quite noticeable to non-smokers. Consider purchasing an ozone spray that helps remove odors without creating a masking odor.
Stand across the street and look at your house. Does it look tired and faded? If so, a paint job may be in order. Painting the exterior of your house is usually one of the biggest and most expensive of the decisions you will have to make, but it is considered to be a very good investment and really spruces up the appearance of your house adding potential dollars to offers from prospective home buyers. Your choice of color should be based on what fits well in your neighborhood. Don’t pick a color that makes your home stand out, but blends in with the surrounding homes.
As for the roof, if you know your house has an old leaky roof, you may consider replacing it. If not, you are going to have to disclose it to the buyer and they may want a new roof anyway. Otherwise, if the condition of the roof is less than average, wait and see what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily when there may be no objection anyway.
Front Door and Entryway:
Your front door should be especially sharp since it is the entryway into your house. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to get it done. If your front door has a plaque with your family name on it, you should remove it. Make sure you fill the holes and paint over them. If you have a screen door, spray it down with water frequently to keep it clean. If needed, get a new door mat…the bigger the better. This is something you can take with you once you move. Make sure the door lock works easily and the key fits properly. Make sure the porch light and the doorbell are in working order and if space permits (you don’t want your front entry to appear too narrow), put a couple pots of colorful plants by the front door to help create a positive impression as the homebuyers enter your house.
While you’re standing looking at the exterior of your home, take a look at the landscaping, is it at least average for the neighborhood? The two areas where you can make the most impact in creating a favorable first impression is your lawn and planters.
Your lawn should be evenly cut, freshly edged, and well watered. Depending on the time of the year you are placing your home for sale, if there are any brown spots or bare spots you should take care of those first. You may need to fertilize or re-sod a certain area. Seeding may also be a possibility although the intended results take longer, so start early.
In the areas where you have flowers and plants, replace any that show neglect or distress with new mature ones. They add a splash of vibrancy and color, creating a favorable first impression. Do not buy bulbs or seeds as they will not mature fast enough to create the desired effect. Try to fill in any bare areas, limiting the amount of brown earth for homebuyers to view. Consider using one of the many types of decorative bark available at any home center.
Your backyard should be maintained just as well as the front. If you have a pool or spa, keep it fresh and constantly clean. If you have a newer home with a small backyard, consider removing anything that you don’t need to make the yard appear as spacious as possible.