Despite the adage that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, there are a few other fixes that should command your attention before you put your home on the market.
Although these repairs may not be as visually attractive as an updated kitchen, they may position your home for a faster sale overall.
MSN Real Estate generated a list of “must do’s” before putting your house on the market. Many of these repairs only require a few twists of the wrench, but others may need an expert’s touch:
Create a positive first impression. Dead plants and chipped paint is going make many buyers pass over your home. Fix sagging screen doors, update the front door and paint your house if necessary. Don’t neglect the yard. You don’t need to do an entire overhaul but make sure all plant life is living, green and nicely trimmed.
Don’t forget about the roof. In addition to replacing missing shingles, make sure any leaks are repaired. Have the roof professionally pressure washed to give it a clean and updated appearance. If the roof needs to be replaced entirely, consider adding that cost into your sale price or replacing it before you put your home on the market.
Clear up any olfactory issues inside your home. In addition to falling in love with a home through their eyes, buyers will also be attracted to your home (or not) through their nose. If your home smells like smoke, pets or cooking odors, you will need to do some serious deep cleaning. That means cleaning everything with bleach and then washing the walls with an alkaline builder, such as ammonia, and a glycol solvent. If you still smell smoke apply a coat of Kilz primer to dry clean walls and then add a fresh coat of paint over dried primer.
Remove the clutter. This includes not only painting over holes in the walls (and/or just painting the walls), but also removing all clutter so the buyer can visualize himself living in your home. Also, check the baseboards for scuff marks and replace or repair. Although they are considered to be loved family members, pets will also need to “disappear” during all showings as well.
Repair damage. Check your floors, cabinets and bathrooms for leaks or damage. Replace damaged flooring and cabinets. Visit your bathrooms to repair leaky sinks and reseal the toilet.
In some cases, repairs may run as little as a few hundred dollars, however if you end up having to replace a roof, a considerable amount of flooring or updating the kitchen or bath you will need to cough up a little more cash.
Experts say that unless you are a trained handyman or a builder you should probably leave many of these repairs/updates to the experts. Credit Unions Online talked to Scott Jones, Lead Real Estate Loan Underwriter at Advantis Credit Union (Portland, OR) who said now is an ideal time to make home improvements as the market heats up.
“Now is a good time to get an ROI on home improvements,” he said. “Due to the relatively low level of available inventory listed for sale in the Portland area, prices are appreciating. Any improvements will likely see a larger return in actual dollars, then in previous markets. Also, it’s a good idea to talk to neighbors that have completed remodeling projects. Ask what the cost was and then complete a before and after search on estimated value on sites like Zillow.com.”
Jones adds that updating your kitchen and bathroom should also be considered. “Kitchens and bathrooms tend to have the highest return on investment. Additions that increase bedroom count and increase square footage, as long as it is in line with the neighborhood, also add value. Other improvements like decks and landscaping can especially increase ‘curb appeal’ when re-sale time comes around, but don’t typically have the same ROI as kitchens and bathrooms. Checking websites like houselogic.com or bankrate.com can provide insight on projects and the potential ROI and risks.”
With a list of “things to do” in growth mode, where can homeowners find extra cash that won’t break the budget in loan costs and fees? Jones says that a good place to start is with a local credit union. “In addition to lower fees and faster turnaround times, credit unions are local and understand the market better than large banks that likely have centralized underwriting offices out of state. They don’t always understand the local community and won’t always apply common sense—based on local market knowledge—to their underwriting decisions.”
He adds that there are two distinct loan choices borrowers can make, depending on the scale of the job and timeline. “A HELOC is a better option if the member plans to keep the funds short term. For example, if the member plans to fix-up and sell within the next five years. The payments may be lower since the payment is based on the amount of funds drawn on the line. Additionally, HELOCS can be a good choice if someone wants to make larger than minimum payments, again, because as the balance is paid down faster, the payment will drop. HELOCS can also be paid down and used again if the member were completing renovations in stages. A fixed rate loan is generally better if the member is interest rate risk averse and does not want to have the possibility of their payment changing.”By Gina Ragusa