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North Hills Monthly

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference when Selling Your Home

Mar 30, 2019 10:48AM ● By Hilary Daninhirsch

A home listed by Zita Billmann with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Service

If you’re thinking of selling your house, either now or in the near future, one of the considerations you may have is how much money you should put into your house now to get a good return on it later.

Before you go ahead and add on a fifth bedroom, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, or a landscaping overhaul, keep in mind that even small things can make a big difference. 

Adding Value to the Interior

“The best investment you can make at no cost is to clean out and get rid of clutter; that goes a long way,” said Zita Billmann with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Service. “Most buyers will buy based on space and condition. If we can create space by eliminating personal items, clearing counters in kitchen and baths and minimizing furniture so it fills the room without making it cramped, this adds value to the home. Additionally, fresh paint, wallpaper removal and a few exciting light fixtures in key areas are great investments that buyers will respond to.”

“In my opinion, smaller projects add value,” agreed Allison Butler, a licensed real estate agent with RE/MAX Select Realty in Cranberry. “I feel that a fresh coat of paint and really cleaning your house, making sure windows and baseboards are clean, and decluttering, is important.

“We’re in the HGTV generation where everyone wants to walk in and see Pottery Barn,” she added.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on updates, at least make sure that the home is tidy and bright.

Remember when your mom sent you off to college and told you to make good choices? The same can be said for the décor you choose for your home, especially if you're thinking about resale value.

Billmann said that she encourages sellers to neutralize paint and remove wallpaper, essentially turning the home into a neutral canvas for the new owner. Keeping the décor classic will improve overall value. Also, if you’re thinking of selling your home in the near future, do some research about current trends. For example, white kitchens are more appealing than dark wood kitchens.

If you’re going to spend money to remodel or update any room, both Billmann and Butler agree that the kitchen is the way to go. At the very least, said Butler, update appliances to stainless steel and install new countertops (preferably quartz, as that material is trending now). 

Billmann concurred, saying that a nice backsplash goes a long way, as does getting rid of dated oak cabinetry, or staining it a darker color. Do not paint over it. She added that most everyone likes a large kitchen island, so if you have the means and the space to do so, it is worth the investment.

Another important room is the master bath and bedroom. “Everyone wants that nice master suite. If it’s really dated, putting money into it really does add value,” said Butler. She suggested upgrading vanities, fixtures, faucets and even lighting. Billmann agreed, saying that if you can create a spa-like master bath, you can win most buyers over.

Trends fluctuate, but hardwood is currently a popular flooring. If you have worn carpeting, Butler does not advise to replace it, because it’s likely that a new owner would rip it up anyway.

Billmann added that consistent flooring is key. While buyers do prefer hardwood or an engineered wood to other products, it’s also important to continue the flow of the flooring throughout the space.

Another trendy flooring option is LVP (luxury vinyl plank). “We are seeing it used more often, even in higher-end new construction. The new LVP looks so much like real wood and it’s a more affordable option than traditional hardwoods or engineered hardwood flooring,” said Butler. “The real draw is how low maintenance and durable it is. It doesn’t scratch and is moisture resistant. It would definitely add value to a home.”

Butler cautioned that you don’t want to ‘over-model’ your home and run the risk that you will price yourself out of your neighborhood.  

“You need to be mindful of the price range that your neighborhood pulls; you don’t want to be the most expensive house,” she said. For example, if you put a $100,000 kitchen, a $50,000 pool and a $50,000 master bathroom into a $275,000 house, you will not recoup that investment dollar for dollar.

Finished basements are another investment area. Buyers love a game room, space to entertain, having a theater room, and a bar and/or kitchenette. Plenty of buyers also look for a flex space for an optional bedroom for guests, and a full bath is helpful in the basement as well. Billmann advised leaving some storage space for all of the seasonal items homeowners need to store.  

CLEAN UP the Exterior

Both realtors agree that curb appeal is very important. After all, the exterior of your home will be the first thing that prospective buyers see—and you know the old adage about only getting one chance to make a first impression.

Again, it is not necessary to go over the top. “I always recommend a good yard clean-up; you can do it yourself or hire a landscaper. Trim the hedges so that everything looks tidy and clean,” said Butler. She added that sellers may not recoup the investment of an extensive landscaping project.

Outdoor living is popular, but it is not necessary to create an outdoor living space simply for resale purposes. If you are going to put money into your backyard, you should do so for your own enjoyment, rather for the sole purpose of selling your home down the road.

“However, if you’re going to make an investment in the backyard, buyers love a roof-covered patio with a fireplace,” said Billmann. “It is an extension of the home and offers a great space for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors.”

Both realtors have different thoughts when it comes to in-ground pools. “I have found that more and more buyers in our market desire to have an outdoor oasis and are looking for homes with a swimming pool or a good yard so that they can add one,” said Billmann. “A pool is something that, in my experience, will not hurt your value.”

If you decide to put in a pool, you won’t necessarily recoup the investment, but it will certainly make your home more attractive and help it to sell. “Every house I list with a pool usually sells in the first weekend,” she added.

Butler, on the other hand, has found pools to be a mixed bag, adding that one can make a sale for those who really want a pool, or break a sale for those who do not.

The bottom line is that a little bit goes a long way, and that you should not have to break the bank to make your house more sellable in the future. If you do make an investment in remodeling, though, make sure not to price yourself out of your neighborhood.