Don’t just start throwing money at projects. Establish a budget that feels comfortable, and ask your agent weigh in. The real challenge in selling an imperfect home is knowing which remodeling projects will increase value, and which will decrease value. The right upgrades also make your house move faster on the market. The best agents work to help clients get two to three dollars back for every dollar spent. And those agents won’t be guessing. So when you’re prepping your home for sale, pick up the phone and consult with your real estate agent before you spend a single penny on home improvements.
Don’t update your home base on your personal preferences. A professional agent has a complete understanding of what current buyer preferences are, so they can tell you where to spend money to appeal to the largest number of buyers. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular pricey projects that have the lowest ROI and the wiser, low-cost upgrades that offer a bigger bang for your buck.
Kitchen remodel or any other remodel got more expensive in the last few years and they get only 62% return on your investment. If you’re improving the kitchen, it might be more cost effective to do cosmetic fixes like painting the existing cabinets, changing out the cabinet hardware, and replacing the countertops with granite. Install those countertops, repaint the cabinets, replacing the sink, faucet, and cabinet hardware—and the kitchen will look like a full remodel for less than $5,000. Consult with your agent so you’ll likely spend more money than necessary on the wrong design choices.
You might be able to recover only 50% on extensive bath remodel. Want to know what shows the age of your bathroom the most? It’s the fixtures—both faucets and lighting. Luckily, you can achieve a “brand-new bathroom” look by swapping them out without spending a whole lot. Light and faucet fixtures just need to be current. And if you have old mirrors, you can add a framed border, or install smaller mirrors over his and hers sinks.
Some clients think they can finish the basement area in a home and make a good return and while it’s true that a bigger house will bring a bigger price, basement square foot is not equal to main floor square foot. On the other hand, if the main floor has only two rooms and you can finish a third room in the basement, it might be a good idea to make an exception. Consult your real estate in your area before you spend money on a wasteful adventure.
HVAC Expensive upgrades that buyers can’t see and get excited about won’t add nearly as much value as cosmetic improvements. The only time you need to completely replace the HVAC is if it’s totally broken and can’t be repaired—and even then the buyer may be able to work the replacement cost into the home sale so they can buy the HVAC they want.
Your floors are one of the first things they’ll comment on when they walk into your home because it sets the whole tone, and yet flooring is one of those things sellers overlook when they are ready to sell their home. They shouldn’t. Buyers will walk away from homes with bad flooring the same way they’ll walk away from homes that smell bad. Hardwood flooring has long been the top choice for buyers. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, 99% of real estate agents say homes with hardwood are easier to sell, with 90% saying they sell for more money. A recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that 54% of buyers were willing to pay more for homes decked out in hardwood.
Hardwood flooring is still a favorite in today’s market, but more people are buying vinyl over wood or carpet every single year. Laminate flooring is cost-effective, easy to install, offers a huge variety to choose from, and some offer extreme scratch-resistant and pet proofing qualities.
While it’s hard to say exactly what flooring (other than hardwood) will add the most value to a home, it’s clear that buyers prefer hard surfaces over carpeting. So, if you’re in the market for a budget-friendly carpet replacement, vinyl is a great choice. Wait. Don’t rip up carpets and replace them with hardwood floors just yet — at least not as long as they’re in good condition and keep in mind - Not every room needs to have the ideal flooring. In fact, there are definitely rooms where it matters more than others. While buyers prefer hardwoods in the main areas of the house, like the living rooms and the hallways, you can get away with can get away with carpeting in the bedrooms.
The condition of the surface is also important, though a combination of quick fixes and conditioning might be all it takes to get antique floors looking like they just came from the sawmill, and there’s nothing like a deep shampooing to make your carpet look and smell fresh again.
However, if you have pets or your carpet has seen better days, a few thousand dollars to replace it is money well spent.
If you do choose to replace your floors to boost your home’s value, be sure to keep an eye on the big picture—how well the flooring flows from room to room. Buyers don’t like any floors that meet in a patchwork of colors and finishes.
Consistency throughout the house is what really matters. The number one thing a seller can do to kill the resale value of their home is to put multiple types of flooring in a house. Maybe number two. Number one is to have two different hardwood touching.
Ultimately, bring in a real estate professional to determine whether or not floors need help and what should be done to revive them. When it comes to flooring, the real value of an agent is their ability to identify what the next move should be, so you can make the most money in your sale, and spend the least amount in renovations. Set aside time with an agent during initial meetings to determine what the floors in your home need. Whether it’s a quick clean or a full replacement, it’ll pay off when the buyers arrive.
Fresh paint is kind of like the “new car” smell for houses—which is why most agents advise clients to get the home interior repainted, even if that’s the only upgrade they can afford to make.
Painting a house is the best way to make it feel fresh and new. It hides imperfections, covers up any old marks, and makes your home’s best features pop. It also solves any issues with peeling exterior paint that will show up in a home inspection.
It’s important to choose the right type of paint for the right wall. A matte paint hides major wall imperfections but is tough to clean, so it’s suggested for adult bedrooms. High-gloss paint is durable and easy to clean, but is very shiny and doesn’t cover imperfections. It’s a great finish for trim, for cabinets, or for doors, but not for walls.
Semi-gloss paint is durable and works well in rooms like kitchens or bathrooms that are prone to high levels of moisture, and eggshell paint works great for the dining room.
Overall, satin and eggshell paint are both affordable options that will stand up well in any room. These paint finishes are durable, look fantastic, and you can get them for a good price.
Paint in a neutral palette Light, neutral wall colors make for a good palette for resale because buyers can easily imagine their belongings in the space.
Pottery Barn and Sherwin Williams, an interior design inspiration power duo if there ever was one, offer more insights on playing with light neutrals in their video “Our 10 Best Interior Colors.”
Some shades they recommend are Agreeable Gray (SW 7029), Accessible Beige (SW 7036), and Urban Putty (SW 7532).
Ior more advice call Marknterior designers Leanne McKeachie and Lana Lounsbury note that light colors add freshness and style. They suggest Benjamin Moore’s Wickham Gray (HC-171), which has a hint of blue; Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl (OC-52), which has slight blue and brown undertones; or Benjamin Moore’s Cake Batter (CSP-215), a beige that gives the interior “a feeling of sunshine.”
Create an Accent Wall Add elegance, dramatic flair or a focal point where you want to draw attention you without a need to paint an entire room. If you already have neutral wall colors (gray, beige, off-white, etc.), you can paint one wall a strong accent wall color. Decide where you would like the focal point of the room, such as fireplace, a large window, headboard (bedroom), built-in bookcase or the wall across from a doorway. Use accent color to highlight parts of a room or continue painting techniques from an adjacent room. You can get color ideas by looking at pillows, upholstery, fabric, and artwork.
Touch up your exterior paint If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to repaint your whole house to make it look new again. Touch up any flaking or chips, or pressure wash the exterior to remove dirt and mold. You also can just paint the front door and trim. A front door in a bold color like buttery yellow, powder blue, or forest green makes the entrance pop against a neutral exterior.
For more advice call Mark at 360 903-3113, or message us at: m.me/cascadianwrealty
When the purpose of your project is to improve home value and boost asking price at resale, it’s smart to spend less on several smaller cosmetic improvements rather than one or two major room overhauls. Below are easy value-increasing DIY tips that are also easy on your budget. By the end you should be able to pick up a hammer and a paintbrush and get straight to work.
Switch Out Old Light Fixtures & Hardware One of the most affordable ways to increase home value is fixtures, door hardware, and cabinet hardware. You can take a basic cabinet, put some hardware on it—knobs and pulls—and really dress it up. If you want to go the extra mile, swap out old faucets in the kitchen and in the bathroom with matching style that will give the room a cohesive, modern look and will have a big impact on buyer.
Try brushed nickel and matte-type stainless-steel fixtures for a contemporary style, or oil-rubbed bronze if your home has a more classic look. Trends vary nationwide, so ask your real estate agent what buyers look for in your area.
Kitchen cabinets in bad shape can also get a quick makeover. Use a polish like Restor-A-Finish or Murphy oil soap to bring natural wood cabinets back to life. As for light fixtures, pick a plain, modern light fixture.
Replace the Thermostat Most buyers aren’t thinking about the age of your home’s inner workings—unless they’re not working. The only thing that’ll get them wondering about your HVAC’s condition is an outdated, mechanical thermostat. You can actually install a new digital thermostat to control your old H-VAC. Even the fanciest, smart thermostats that can be controlled via phone apps can work on most HVACs.
So for the low cost of $20 to $300 (depending on the thermostat you choose), you’ve got the bells-and-whistles look of a state-of-the-art H-VAC that’ll appeal to tech-savvy buyers—without the big expense of replacing the whole unit.
Clean A cluttered house will not sell for what you want it to. Buyers will not be able to see beyond your collection of refrigerator magnets, surfboards and road bikes in the living room, and clothes sticking out of overstuffed dresser drawers. They won’t even be able to see passed an over-crowded nightstand, even if your items are nice. In fact, on the extreme end, a cluttered house could signal greater problems that haven’t been attended to, just like the mess.
More than that. Clutter can hurt the appraisal value made by professional appraiser. Make sure you clean and declutter the entire house.
Leverage the Landscaping Your first shot at a first impression is, as always, your house’s curb appeal. In fact, do an amazing job landscaping your front yard and you could get 5.5%-12.7% more for your house.
First, take out any dead grass and weeds and replace them with bark, gravel, or decomposed granite. Then, add pops of plants throughout your yard.
Succulents and short shrubs are both low cost and low maintenance, and they’re in style right now for a landscaping redo. If you scatter them throughout the front yard and fill the rest of the space in with one of the fillers mentioned above, you’ll have a front yard ready for sale in no time.
You can also paint the front door for an extra pop of charm.
Bad Neighbors Homeowners with annoying pets, overgrown lawn, unpleasant odors, loud music, dangerous trees and limbs, or poorly maintained exteriors and a clunker of a car in the yard can seriously affect your home sale. Statistics show that a neighbor’s messy property can lower your appraisal by more than 5-10%.
At this point, your best bet is to have a chat with your neighbors and explain that you’re going to be selling your home. If you have the time or resources, offer to help clean up at least the outside area if they’re open to it.
Your Driveway Has Seen Better Days If you have to warn guests to take it easy coming up a bumpy driveway, you may want to consider a little bit of outdoor home improvement before having your home appraised for a sale.
Foul Odors Pets can add a ton of value to the life you live inside your home, but not so much when it comes to the value of the home itself. If the place smells like your dogs, then the buyer’s not thinking about how they would live there. They’re thinking about how you live there.
Since we spend so much time in our homes, we don’t always know what our environment smells like. You don’t want to let unpleasant odors distract an appraiser or lead them to believe that something may be amiss in your home. Mildew, cigarette smoke and pet smell can leave behind lingering smells that can turn off a lot of buyers and appraisers.
In a 2016 experiment conducted by realestate.com.au, 44 home buyers were split into groups to tour the same home infused with various scents: brownies, hot bread, freshly made coffee, citrus, and dirty socks. The results showed that the smell of citrus can boost buyers’ perceived value of a home by $100,000.
Before you can add scents to a home, however, you have to pinpoint any smelly culprits and neutralize them. Be sure to clean your carpet, mop the floors, put pet beds through the washing machine, move litter boxes and dog toys to the garage, close shoe boxes, and scrub down the bathrooms to take care of the biggest offenders.
Avoid using chemical cleaners or air fresheners to achieve the citrus smell. Instead, add a few drops of lemon or orange essential oils to a spray bottle as a mister, put some small pieces of citrus rinds down the garbage disposal, or simmer sliced citrus fruit in over the stove in water.
Your Floor Plan Doesn’t Flow Today’s buyers put a premium on open layouts for the main living areas. Open floor plans connect the kitchen and the family room, an ideal setup for entertaining and social interaction. Plus, homes with a breezy, wide-open flow naturally feel larger and allow sunlight to bounce between spaces.
Most houses built before 1990 feature closed-off layouts with dividers between the main rooms that can date even well-kept older homes. If your house is newer, bucks the normal layout for older houses, or has been remodeled to knock down a few walls, know that the open layout will be in your favor when the time comes to get your home sold. A 2017 study showed that homes with open floor plans appreciate at a rate of 7.4% faster than their closed-off counterparts.
If your home has more doorways than open walkways, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get gouged on your appraisal. Think about what benefits an open plan has, and figure out how you can apply those to your current space. Ways to do this might include: • Painting your walls with a warm, sunny tone to give the illusion of light. • Arrange furniture in a way that promotes natural pathways and flow. • Hang mirrors or large pieces of art to make the space appear large and luxurious. • Swap out opaque window treatments for sheer ones (like these gauzy panels from Bed Bath Beyond) and put up floor-to-ceiling length curtains.
These tweaks obviously won’t magically transform your floor plan, but they can go a long way in making it appear a lot more modern when the appraiser comes to look around.
In some cases it will be worthwhile to knock out the right wall. Consult with your agent. Your agent will direct your dollars and time toward the most important projects, so you don’t waste any time and effort on work that won’t pay off.
If you’re serious about selling your home and want to get the biggest return on investment, talk to a real estate agent and ask them to do a walkthrough of your house. They’ll be able to point out any areas that need TLC before you list.
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We bought a home our dream home in Bonney Lake Washington contingent on the sale of our home in California Bay Area and so thankful Dave was recommended to us by our financial advisor. Our situation was complicated by being outside the US and Covid restrictions on travel. Dave’s knowledge, expertise, solid reasoning was immediately apparent. We quickly felt this was someone we could rely on who had our best interests in mind. I appreciated his thoughtful review and opinions on home inspection issues, bringing up considerations outside anything we had thought of. This guy works hard. The consistent communication was 5 star service. We had a polar opposite experience selling our home in California which was full of frustration, anxiety and distrust. Consider yourself in great hands choosing Dave as you agent. Thank you, thank you from the Symons-Hopper family!
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"We have known Dave for years and choosing him as our realtor was a no-brainer. Not only does he know Vancouver well, he is upfront and provides accurate and honest information. Working with him was easy from beginning to end and we always felt confident that he had our best interests in mind. Dave is an excellent negotiator and stands firm for what his clients want. We definitely recommend Dave and would work with him again!"
I met David over a year ago at an Open House on our street. I told him that we would not be listing our home for at least a year but I would like to know the appropriate value. He ran comps of houses in our area and reviewed them with me.
When the time came to list the property I asked him to present a marketing plan. He and his realtor partner presented an interesting plan. I was impressed with their professional demeanor and knowledge of the real estate market. I liked their plan and decided to list with them .
We listed the house on a Friday and by Monday seven offers had been written. Six of those offers were above asking price.
I found David to be knowledgeable, available, helpful and a good communicator. He was eager to help in any way possible. We were very pleased with his suggestions and felt he knew the area and value
of property in our area.
Working with Dave was the best choice we could have made as first time home buyers. We didn’t know any realtors in the area and actually met him at an open house we just happened to drive past. We were set at ease by his knowledge of the area and his professionalism. We have met high pressure realtors before and he was definitely not that.
Dave did such a great job working with our schedule seeing seeing many houses over 4 months. At every showing, he helped us fairly evaluate the home for our needs and wants. We bought during a very tight and competitive market and Dave helped us navigate through several multiple offer situations. Ultimately we were able to lock down our new home with a creative offer that was tailored to the seller’s specific needs because Dave was in such great communication with the sellers agent. With his help, we were able to beat higher priced offers.
We are truly blessed to have met Dave at that open house and highly recommend his services to anyone!