By Ali Sahabi of Optimum Group, LLC
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
Graduations and the Fourth of July are behind us now, and that kicks off the beginning of the summer home-buying season which also signals the start of home selling season. So, if you are planning to put your house on the market this summer, here are some tips to help you prepare your home for sale, maximize your investment and save a few dollars in the process.
As any real estate professional will tell you, the first and most important step in preparing a home for sale is to start with its curb appeal. Take a long look at your home from the street and see that your home appears clean, inviting and well-kept. Start by touching up your landscape by mowing the lawn, weeding garden areas and trimming unruly bushes. Depending on the age and condition of your driveway, you might consider resealing it. Remember that many repairs or upgrades required by a buyer will be conditions of the sale, so there is no need to make every possible improvement up front - your biggest concern as a home seller will be to make a good impression and that impression starts on the street.
The key to selling a home is to help a prospective buyer to see your home as their new home. Start by storing everything but the essentials you will need for day-to-day living to best showcase your home’s unique architectural features and rooms. Garages can be a big selling point, so consider a commercial storage unit and leave your garage as clean and spacious as it can be. Clean your house from top to bottom including walls, floors, furniture and tabletops. Everything should be sparkling clean when a buyer makes that all-important first visit. Also, keep personal items such as family pictures or trophies out of sight – you don’t want the buyer to feel like they are intruding on your life.
First impressions count, so repaint your front door if necessary. Polish the doorknob and knocker and clean the glass and screen door. When a buyer waits at the front door to enter, make sure he or she sees that your home is cared for.
Give your exterior and interior a paint job with a single neutral color throughout such as beige or taupe. This will make the home look newer and the rooms look larger. Likewise, consider new flooring if your carpet is aging. Many new homebuyers prefer hardwood floors, so if you have carpets covering an existing hardwood floor, consider removing them.
Kitchens and bathrooms are often the two rooms that make or break a sale. The expenses you incur on the front end sprucing up these rooms might be less expensive than the profits you could lose by reducing the price. Likewise, if your home's appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators and washers and dryers are old and outdated, it could pay to replace them. Buyers do not want to be faced with the possibility of having to replace appliances when moving in to a new house. Shiny, new energy – efficient appliances already in place will be a big selling point.
Today’s new windows are designed to make homes more comfortable and save energy and costs. If you have older windows, consider replacing them. If you retain your original windows, a good coat of paint will always improve their appearance.
Lastly, find unique ways to market your house. Use a video-sharing website such as YouTube to introduce yourself and your house for free. Take home shoppers on a virtual tour and tell them about its uniqueness and strengths from a first-person point of view. Consider Internet social networking sites to create a web link with a profile of your home. Include pictures and a description of your home’s features. Email the link to your friends and ask them to forward it on to their network of contacts. Get your home listed on real estate websites. There are some that are national in scope and others focus on your specific markets. Be sure that you are using traditional marketing techniques to your best advantage.
Most importantly, remember that for most Americans their home is the biggest and best investment they will ever make, so if you do any major remodeling, it is critically important to use only a properly licensed contractor and make sure he acquires all of the necessary permits for any work done. You can check a contractor's license number online at the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) www.cslb.ca.gov or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752) to ensure you that you are getting the best possible results and protection for your investment.