House Selling: How to Reduce Renovating Costs

When selling a house, prioritize home staging over home renovating.

Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Oct 25, 2009
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If you are moving and selling your house, you probably have a lot on your mind. "How am I going to pack up my life? Will we be able to sell the house at our asking price? Should we be doing any major renovations before showing the house? Can we even afford to do any major improvements?" Well, the truth is that you really shouldn't let big renovation projects take over your life in order to sell a house. In fact, you should focus on house staging and do as little renovating as possible. A good cleaning plus some do-it-yourself updates can sell your house quickly and you won't be out thousands of dollars on expensive home renovating projects.

Low Cost Curb Appeal

You want your home to look good from the outside in order to draw prospective buyers inside. Real estate agents call this "curb appeal," playing off the idea that what you can see from the street (or curb) determines the initial interest in buying a home. Since we are focusing on how to get your home ready to sell by doing only the minimum, your number one home exterior focus should be is neatness. You don't have to hire a landscaper to re-do your front yard or a contractor to build a new deck. Instead, focus on sprucing up the space you already have. Spend a weekend afternoon doing all the little things that make your yard pleasant to look at and then simply maintain it while you're showing your home to potential buyers. Start out by raking and mowing the lawn, clearing toys and clutter, and organizing any outdoor furniture you may have. If your windows are dirty or water-spotted, give them a quick wipe down and make sure to leave them streak-free. If you have oil stains on your driveway, try to get them out with dishwashing detergent or a commercial concrete cleaner. If those don't work, give your car a good wash so that it is sparkling clean and park it over the oil spots to hide the eyesore for now and you can deal with it later once you have some seriously interested buyers. Lastly, take a good look at your exterior walls. If they are discolored, dirty, or just plain old grungy, you might want to consider a paint job. A fresh coat of neutrally colored paint has minimal renovating costs and raises property value.

Cut Your Interior Remodeling Cost with House Staging

Once you've got potential buyers inside your home, you want to show them a clean, clutter-free, and well-functioning space. Start out clearing as much of your personal items from walls, shelves, and countertops as you can so that you can give your prospective buyers plenty of room to imagine their own possessions in your house. Real estate agents call this "home staging." Then, do a walk-through of each room and make a list of look everything that's broken, not working, or needs updating. You want to make sure all the light switches, faucets, and drains work properly before you show your house. Also pay attention to tile walls and floors to see if they need any repairs or re-grouting. Paint the walls in rooms or hallways where the paint is old, discolored, or dirty. Change out your old, water-spotted or dirty shower curtains for new ones. Hire a professional carpet cleaning service if your regular vacuum isn't cutting it. Make sure your kitchen drawers and house doors open and close without squeaking or becoming unhinged. If ever there was a time to be a perfectionist, this is it. Go through your home with a magnifying glass and find all the little annoyances that you've managed to put up with - and fix them. New owners don't want to have to learn how to jiggle the office door just right so that they can get in and out of their workspace. You will increase the number of potential buyers if they walk into a freshly painted, clean and airy home with everything inside of it in working condition.

Renovating Your Property to Sell: Wise Remodeling Choices

After you've fixed up everything you can do on your own, it's time to turn your attention to bigger home improvement projects that require the help of professionals. You may want to add central air conditioning or heating, re-do your floors, or add modern appliances. But before you do anything, keep in mind two things: First of all, professional renovators have found that you're unlikely to sell your house for more than 15 percent above the average price of other homes in your neighborhood, according to ERA Evergreen Real Estate. So, it's best to do a little research and calculate the return of a home renovation that ensures the possibility of recouping the costs of renovating with an increased selling price that is appropriate for your neighborhood. For example, if you live in a neighborhood that is selling homes at an average price of $100,000, the top of your spending budget for renovations ought to be no more than $15,000. Secondly, make sure that any improvements you decide to make are universally applicable. Not everyone needs or wants a new swimming pool or wet bar, but everyone will appreciate beautiful new flooring, energy-efficient appliances in a modern kitchen, and a solid, working roof.

In the end, you want to feel confident that your house is in top condition before showing it to potential buyers. Make sure you fix everything that was broken and rejuvenate older-looking areas with fresh paint and a good cleaning. If the weather permits and it's not too noisy outside, open all of the windows to let in a fresh breeze. If it's very warm or cold outside, turn on the heat or air conditioner to create a comfortable and inviting environment for your potential buyers. If you have water fountains or a fire place, use them. Put out some fresh flowers around the house to add a bit of colorful beauty and maybe even make up a batch of homemade cookies for potential buyers to enjoy. This will add a delicious aroma to your recently spruced up house and hopefully leave a great taste in the mouths of your potential buyers. Good luck!

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