According to a recent Realtor.com survey, 42% of sellers made repairs or updates to their homes before listing for sale.
Today we’re going to talk about some inexpensive home improvements you can do before you put your house on the market.
Before we start, I just want to point out that market conditions have a huge impact on how far you need to go in making improvements. When you’re in a seller’s market like we have today (Greatest Seller’s Market in History), the seller might not have to put as much effort and money into pre-listing improvements. But when we’re in a buyer’s market like the one we had from 2009-2013, the seller will need to go the extra mile to make their house attractive to potential buyers.
When you’re getting your house ready for sale, there are two areas where you should focus:
- Major issues that can prevent the house from qualifying for mortgage financing
- Minor DIY cosmetic upgrades that will make your house more attractive to buyers
Major Issues that can prevent your home from financing
Most people understand that when a buyer buys a house, that buyer has to qualify for financing. They have to have the right debt to income ratios, credit scores, and must be able to afford the monthly payments.
People often forget that the house also must meet certain minimum requirements in order to qualify for financing. Both the buyer, and the property, must meet the lender’s requirements.
Requirements vary depending on the type of loan. Conventional mortgages usually have the easiest requirements. Government backed mortgages such as FHA, VA, or USDA loans impose some additional requirements, but most properties that are in decent condition will have no problem meeting these requirements.
The home must be safe, sound, and structurally secure
In general the home must be safe, sound, and structurally secure. Oftentimes this is open to some interpretation. The appraiser is the person making this determination, and there is some subjectivity involved here. One appraiser might call out a problem that another appraiser will not.
Here are some of the major issues that can prevent your home from financing:
- Roof leaks or is damaged
- Active plumbing leaks
- Broken or missing heating fixtures
- Broken or missing dishwasher or range
- Missing water heater strapping
- Missing floor coverings
If you are getting ready to sell your home, you should consider taking care of any of the above items before you move forward. Otherwise you run the risk of having something get called out an appraisal that needs to be fixed prior to closing, which will delay the closing date while you scramble to get a contractor in to fix it.
Minor DIY cosmetic updates for maximum value
There are some easy do-it-yourself cosmetic updates that can really enhance the appeal of your home and help you maximize the value when you sell. Most people will be able to do these on their own. Just remember that there is a YouTube video for everything. If you don’t know how to do something on this list, you should be able to find plenty of tutorials on YouTube that walk you through it. Just remember that not everyone on YouTube knows what they are talking about, so my advice is to cross reference multiple videos to make sure you’ve got the full picture.
Here are the DIY cosmetic updates that will help you maximize your “bang for the buck”:
- General cleaning – walls, floors, kitchens, bathrooms
- Clean vent fans
- Replace burned out light bulbs
- Replace older faucets, door knobs, or trim
- Replace outdated lighting fixtures
- Clean windows and screens
- Have carpets cleaned, especially if you have indoor pets
- Make sure that carbon monoxide detectors are installed
Landscaping improvements to enhance curb appeal
It is also a good idea to freshen up the landscaping. This will enhance curb appeal and help make a great first impression.
- Plant lots of colorful flowers, in planters or in pots, to activate the buyer’s senses and really make things pop
- Mow, edge, and trim, and keep it that way
- Pull weeds
- Install fresh mulch
- Rake leaves
- Clean porches, decks, and patios
- Clean moss and debris from the roof
Get expert advice on preparing for sale
Are you thinking about selling your home, and want some advice on how to prepare? Get in touch with us! We offer a free consultation and analysis for potential sellers. Our free consultation and analysis includes:
- Listen to your goals and needs (we listen more than we talk)
- Help you figure out whether selling now is right for you
- Prepare you by setting realistic expectations
- Make suggestions for property improvements, staging, and marketing
- Tell you how much your home is worth and how much cash you’ll get when you sell