Improvement Projects Before You List

This article written by our founder, Justin M. Riordan, LEED AP was originally published in Ville Magazine.

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So you've decided you want to sell your home. The first thing you did was create a monster list of items you always wanted to do to your house but never got a chance to. Just to make sure you're not going in the wrong direction, you check in with a few of your friends to hear what they recommend. Low and behold, each and every friend had a different opinion of what you should do to prepare your house for market. Now what? The truth of the matter is you are going to need professional help on this one. Here are some recommendations on how to go about completing this task.

Find a real estate professional you can trust.
Use social media to ask your friends who they've worked with and if they had a good experience. Don't hire your friend’s cousin or your brother’s girlfriend just because somebody you know, knows them. Twenty-percent of the agents out there do 80% of the transactions; you want to work with one of those agents. Remember, this is business, it’s not personal.

Find a stager who is trustworthy.
Talk to your agent and find out who is doing a good job out there. Take a look at their website. Does their work look beautiful? Check out their reviews online and then meet with them. Any stager worth their salt will meet with you for free. Not all stagers are built the same. Price should be one of the last deciding factors on which stager to hire. Much like all other service industries, when it comes to home staging, you get what you pay for.

Trust your agent and your home stager.
These folks have been on the home selling roller coaster hundreds of times before. They rarely run into conditions they have not seen and addressed before. Trust them to lead you down the correct road. It can end up saving you bundle in time, money, and energy.

Hold on there, tiger. Did you already do numbers 1-3?
These items don’t cost anything and they are completely priceless when it comes to selling your home. Once you do those then we can move on to the inexpensive, but priceless home improvement projects to do before you list.

Install new address numbers.
They are the first thing your potential buyer will see when looking for your house. If they are well placed, easy to find and appear to be new, they speak to a general ability to keep a house in good repair. Cost: less than $100 Return: priceless

Remove your screen door.
I have never seen a screen door that was more attractive then the door behind it. Screen doors also can make the entry sequence into a house very difficult if the the lock box is on the entry door. Cost: less than $100 Return: priceless.

Remove window covering and hardware.
Empty drapery hardware says to the next owner of your home, “You have to go out and buy new window coverings.” Adding an extra item to the buyer’s already long list of things they need to do will only make them want to look elsewhere. Cost: less than $100 Return: priceless.

Replace your front door hardware.
Locks that are hard to use can make the first experience with your house stressful for your buyer. If your lock is tricky at all, replace it. Cost: less than $200 Return: priceless.

Wash all the windows inside and out.
Crystal clear windows help to bring in natural light which has shown to increase sales in retail establishments by a full 33%. If you are willing to do the job yourself, the cost can be less than $100. Return: priceless.

Fill your outdoor planting beds with dark mulch.
Be sure to use the kind that is almost black and does not contain manure. The dark color helps to make the beds look fertile and rich. But beware if the mulch contains manure, your fancy house can strongly smell like the outhouse.

Really, when it comes down to it, your list may be completely different from the list above. Your priorities will always be the same; they will work their way from first impressions to last impressions. In other words, it is much more important for your living room to look perfect than for your garage to. The front yard takes precedence over the back yard and so on and so forth. Just keep in mind that this experience is going to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster; it always is. Take extra care in building your team. Once you have them, trust your agent and your stager and you will do great.