Thinking about selling your home? Right now is a prime time to do it. You're already sitting pretty because of the ongoing hot seller's market. Currently, there are many potential buyers roaming around the market looking for the best home that'll guarantee value for money.
However, regardless of the number of potential buyers you may have, you'll still need to make a few changes before listing your home.
But while you may not have to put as much time, money, and effort into selling your home as you would in a buyer's market, there are still essential things to take care of.
You not only want to have your pick from multiple offers, but you also want to assure a deal doesn't fall through after the frenzy of offers because of something you didn't do.
Plus, there are ways ranging from relatively inexpensive to virtually free to boost your home's appeal and sweeten that listing price. For instance, trimming the trees around your home might not be costly but it could make a difference in your home's overall look.
We'll review what makes sense to do in this market to add value to your home. We'll also note what improvements could impact your home insurance premium, whether you have replacement cost or actual cash value home insurance.
What Homebuyers Say They Want
Based on the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) report "What Home Buyers Really Want for 2021," you're selling the perfect home if you have these factors:
- Suburban location
- 2,000-plus square footage
- Traditional, single-family dwelling
- Open layout
- Three bedrooms
- Two bathrooms
- Separate laundry room
- Two-car garage
- Exterior lighting
- Ceiling fans
- Air conditioning
- Energy efficient lighting, windows, and appliances
- Hardwood floors in the main living area
- Kitchens with a double sink, walk-in pantry, table space for eating, and a central island
If you've been renovating your home to sell or to enjoy before you sell someday, much of this is good news, especially if you've done any of the projects that HomeAdvisor's 2020 State of Home Spending report found the most popular:
- Interior painting
- Bathroom remodels
- Installing new flooring
- Painted exteriors
- Smart home device installations
- New roofing
- Installing a deck or porch
What Impresses Potential Homebuyers
While most homes won't check off everything on a homebuyer's wish list, buyers are expecting what they see on all of those home-improvement shows. What that means is that the better you stage your home, the more points you'll score with potential homebuyers.
Luckily, you can make a visual impact with a low investment.
Get the Most Home Appeal for the Least Amount of Money
The first thing that buyers see when they come to your home is the front yard. How appealing is it? Are there any improvements you can make? If you have a flower garden, you can revitalize it to make it look more attractive.
Barring outstanding concerns that would keep your house from being sold, the days of major home renovations to sell your home are gone. However, here are great ways to pique buyer interest.
Make Way for the Next Homeowner
Some of the best improvements you can make to your home are easy and free. They just involve time and a little muscle.
Do a walk-through inside your home and walk around outside your home. Your focus is three-fold. Note what areas need to be decluttered, what needs to be enhanced, and what needs to be cleaned.
Remember that decluttering doesn't just mean picking up papers, removing piles of magazines, placing collections in cabinets, and straightening up blankets and pillows. You can also rearrange your furniture and other items in your rooms.
Less is more when it comes to home staging. Provide enough open space so you have clean lines and a good flow throughout your home. If rooms are crowded, or if there are too many personal items on display, buyers can't get a sense of what the home will be like for them.
When you're looking for ways to enhance your home, focus on a buyer's first impression.
It's an essential part of home staging to have a clean home. This makes potential buyers feel that your TLC translates into having done the same with home maintenance and repairs.
Overall tips include making sure all of the windows are clean, repairing blinds, scrubbing window sills, deep-cleaning carpets, hiding wires and cables, and organizing the contents of your shelves by color or size for a streamlined look.
Tips for specific areas:
- Living Room: Arrange seating around a natural focus point to create a conversation area. Show off your window and place a mirror across from the window. This will give your home a better appearance than before. You can also add some plants as a decoration. Choose ones with an aesthetic appeal, or go for the colorful ones, but don't overdo them.
- Bedrooms: Keep clothes stored out of sight. You can tuck them away in luggage bags or place them in locked drawers. Is your closet dark? Try adding lights to brighten it up. Make the bed the focus point of the room by dressing it up with sheets, a duvet, and pillows that coordinate with the wall color, and cover the boxspring with a bedskirt.
- Bathrooms: Clear counters of personal items like your toothbrushes and medicine. Your goal should be to keep your potential buyer focused on the room itself. Of course, some things that you might leave on display include the towels. But ensure they're clean and neatly displayed. You might also want to consider a fresh coat of paint on cabinets. Remove stains and freshen up caulking.
- Kitchen: Remove anything hanging on your refrigerator. Clear the countertops. Consider a fresh coat of paint on your cabinets. Place a vase of big, bright flowers in the center of your kitchen table or island. Clear out the trash bin before showings.
- Dining room: Make sure it's well-lit, either by natural light or light fixtures. Center the table over a rug and keep the maximum of chairs to four. Add a tablecloth, and set the table.
- Exterior: Get an instant upgrade with a pop of color by adding a coat of paint to the front door. Remove dirt and dust from your patio, walkways, stairs, and furniture. Fix sidewalks and driveway cracks. Have your home and driveway pressure washed. Clear dead plant growth from your garden beds. Pack up tools and toys. Clean the garage.
Renovate Only Partially
Doing full redos on rooms such as kitchens or bathrooms are among the home renovations with the worst return on investment. Why spend thousands of dollars on projects that don't substantially raise the price of your home?
Focus on cosmetic touch ups and smaller projects to get a better return on investment. You don't want to take your remodeling too far, since most buyers do their own customizations after they move in.
So instead of a full kitchen reno, simply freshen it up with new countertops, a new sink, a new faucet, or new hardware for the cabinets and drawers. Instead of installing new flooring, just refinish existing hardwood floors.
Fix the Broken Basics
If there are known issues with your home, such as a failing heating system, faulty plumbing, an electrical system that's no longer up to code, or a leaking roof, these problems need to be addressed before you list your home, especially if you're not selling it "as-is.".
You don't want to have a deal fall through when the home inspection exposes major problems.
However, if you want to sell your house as-is, you don't have to bother with repairs and renovations. Cash home buyers like the ones at Sell Your Gainesville Home Today will make you offers based on the current state of your property, whatever it looks like.
Hire a Savvy Real Estate Agent
You can sell your home for more if you have a market-savvy, pricing-savvy, and tech-savvy real estate agent. An experienced, top-notch real estate agent will advise you on the most popular items for the local market and which things you must fix up before selling.
They'll also know tricks such as the best time to go on the market, how to get more bids, and how to spark buyer competition. A great way to do that is by making the most of technology, which expands the reach of potential buyers to anywhere in the world.
Your real estate agent's promotional campaign should include online, high-quality video and photos of your home that provide full coverage.
And thanks to augmented reality and virtual reality enhancing customization and interactivity, a real estate agent can heighten the sense of ownership for potential buyers. Interactive staging lets people click on various options such as lighting and furniture to better imagine how the home can look for them.
Seller Improvements that Affect Home Insurance
Luckily, steering clear of major home improvements and renovations means you won't be adding square footage to your home or changing your home so radically that it would impact your home insurance rate.
If you do embark on a major project, be sure to contact your home insurance agent about the changes.
If the project increases the value of your home, it needs to be reflected in your home insurance coverage so you're covered from potential damage and liability. If you don't update your insurer, any claim you file on a renovated area or an addition that they didn't have prior knowledge of could be denied.
And on the other hand, there are a few improvements you could make to lower your insurance for the remainder of the time you're in the home. One such project is replacing an old roof, since you're decreasing the risk of a claim being filed for water damage, which is one of the top homeowners insurance claims.
And don't forget to contact your home insurer to discuss the implications of selling your home, such as when and how to cancel your policy.
It's better to have an overlap than coverage gaps. Don't cancel prior to your move or prior to the home transferring to new ownership: You wouldn't want that sweet price you're getting for your home to be diminished by not having the proper insurance.
You could end up having to pay out-of-pocket if there's damage to your belongings when they're in transit or in storage, or if your home is empty but the structure is damaged or someone hurts themselves on the property and sues you.
Karen Condor is a home insurance expert who writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. She also has experience in the world of real estate by assisting with her family's real estate company.