by Phillip B. Burum, Executive Vice President, Diversified Pacific,
President, Building Industry Association (BIA) Baldy View Chapter
Home-buying season is in full swing. Above all else, those who are considering selling their current home need to focus on curb appeal, kitchens and bathrooms. Most surveys of potential homebuyers will list community and neighborhood among the top of their ‘must haves’ list for home shopping. You already live where you live so location is nothing you need to fixate on. Following location; curb appeal, kitchens and bathrooms always round of the top of the lists.
Curb appeal is more than just an aesthetic issue. A home with good curb appeal will certainly be pleasing to look at but it will also provide a sense of security, safety and comfort. A well-groomed lawn is a necessity but pay attention to windows, painting and the condition of any woodwork that is visible to your potential buyer. The apparent condition of the home will tell a lot about the homeowner and the neighborhood so attention to detail is important.
Unless the sale is presented as a “fixer upper”, the goal should be the same as any retail presentation, which focuses on the quality of the first impression. Like buying new clothes, where you will never like it more than the time you first see it in a store, the home will never be as appealing to anyone as it is the first day they see it. Creating a great and lasting first impression is crucial to making the sale.
Take time to carefully examine the home’s exterior from the street. Sprucing up the landscaping is often all that might be needed but consider modernizing the lawn with a more ecologically friendly “xeriscape” design which features more drought tolerant plants. Consider resealing the driveway and even replacing the garage door. In our region, it is not uncommon for a garage to make up fifty percent or more of the front of the home, cleaning, painting or replacing an older garage door may do wonders for the home’s curb appeal. A new coat of paint or freshening up the color coat on a stucco home can return dividends far greater than the small investment. All of these items will send a message that the home is well taken care of.
New interior paint or flooring are great ideas but, stepping inside the house, the highest and best returns will come by focusing on the kitchen and bathrooms. If the home is already equipped with a spacious kitchen with modern cabinets and appliances, you are well ahead of your neighbors and ready for a quick sale. If, however, there is anything about your kitchen or bathrooms that you would have done differently when you moved in, now is the time to consider making the change as these rooms can make or break a sale.
Focusing improvements on these rooms might be less expensive than the profits you could lose by reducing the price. If your home's plumbing fixtures or appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators and washers and dryers are outdated, consider replacing them. Buyers often do not want to be faced with the possibility of having to replace appliances when moving and new energy-efficient appliances already in place will be a positive selling point.
Do not underestimate the effect that obvious quality will have on a potential buyer. If the home you are selling is more than a few years old, consider upgrades to your plumbing, windows or HVAC systems that might help your home compete with newer homes. If structural changes become part of the plan, retain the services of a professional remodeler. Be sure to use a properly licensed contractor and make sure he or she acquires all the necessary permits. 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.
Most importantly, remember that for most Americans their home is the biggest and best investment they will ever make and offer the buyer the best investment possible. for more information about remodeling or making your home ready for sale, visit the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) website at nahb.org/remodel.