As a Realtor, part of my job is to assess properties for my clients. What does that mean? Depending on if I’m working for the buyer or seller, the point of view may change a little. The goal is that each party walk away from the transaction happy because the product/value and the price were in line with one another. So let me give you some idea of the mechanics of that process through the eyes of each and the bottom line of what that could cost or not cost you.
When my client is on the buyer's side, that job entails looking at each home and figuring out if the price is fair to the market, if the layout fits my buyer’s needs, and if it will it suit them in 5 years, 10 years and beyond, depending on their long-term goals. The buyer walks around considering how many changes or repairs will need to be made for the home to be mov-in ready. As they walk through that home their mental calculator is making a monetary tally of what that adjustment looks like.
Working with the seller, the point of view changes to evaluating the property and helping come to a price for that home. That is accomplished by pulling comparable homes to that property that have sold in the past 6 months or less. From that point you then evaluate what sets that seller’s home apart value wise from the listings currently on the market and how they are priced as compared to what the actual closing prices are. The hardest part in being a seller’s agent is having to do your walk-through and advise your client honestly on what tasks need to be handle prior to listing. Why? Because you have to tell them everything wrong through the eyes of a buyer. It’s the necessary but advantageous evil in marketing.
I am breaking down the process for you because what questions I get asked most are, “Should I remodel?”, “What changes do I make?”, and “What will bring me the most value in return?" Let me tell you the answer I hear from most agents and then tell you what I have read statistically. Most agents will tell you that the kitchen, master bedroom, and the master bath are the things you should make sure are updated and relevant. While I may agree with that to a certain extent, I don’t agree as a whole because I’ve looked at too many fact based stats debunking that--if we are going by dollar for dollar return on investment.
Now before you say “She is crazy!” hear me out. Yes, those areas being beautiful, functional and featuring quality materials are a total plus in curb appeal. You should only do these major renovations for your own enjoyment. But the reality is that only a minor kitchen remodel is your best rate of return. Sure the gorgeous kitchen will wow buyers in the beginning, but your better value is updating windows, roofs, and an AC that are outdated or may not be energy efficient. As we all know, none of these items are cheap, but at the end of the day a buyer would much rather a brand new roof over a 15 year old roof that they may have to replace. This makes for economical appeal more than curb appeal, but I promise your buyer is contemplating the cost of changes even when you aren’t. The average purchaser looks at the roof, foundation and AC when making their choice between 2 competing homes.
If you aren’t willing and/or ready to do the major big ticket fixes and they are still in relatively decent condition, here are a few things that give a great first impression when you are ready to list your home.
- Pressure wash the entire property (house, cement, fence etc.)
- Freshen up the flower beds and/or potted planters as well as cut and trim the yard, de-clutter and organize all spaces, make sure the path to the front door as well as the front door look as appealing as they possibly can, and add a few great decorative stylish items in the neglected bare areas that style hasn’t seen in years.
- Make your home feel comfortable and cozy with small touches like fresh flowers or plants, and DO NOT use the awful plastic dust collector sort.
- Give a bathroom new life by freshening up the shower curtains. I actually found some amazing drapes from Pier 1 that I use for my shower curtain that were hung an inch below my ceiling moldings. It gave the area a look of height that creates a upscale room and added a really attractive hand towel draped over a mirrored tray that hold a beautiful hand soap bottle and lotion for your guest.
- Make sure the master is a clean comfortable sanctuary that someone can envision finding their serenity at the end of the day with nice simple bedding with large fluffy pillows to pull the look together. The few dollars you may spend on chic and savvy updates may be the bigger return with your home sitting on the market fewer days due to its visual appeal.