Sellers are motivated to get the best price for their homes, but they don't always know what that entails. Real estate agents often meet with sellers who think they need to spend thousands of dollars remodelling in order to market their home, or at the other extreme, sellers who expect a high price but don't want to put in the work.
While the amount of work you should put into your home before selling depends on your local market, in general, the truth lies somewhere in between these two extremes. To demystify the process, here are answers to five questions that we often hear from sellers, presented by Jason Hafso of MaxWell Challenge Realty.
What Should I Repair?
Begin with any deferred maintenance such as the water heater, a roof tune-up, and crawl space insulation. Most buyers are shopping for a move-in-ready home and don't want to spend time and money on major repairs before occupying the house. That's why it's often recommended to handle major repairs before selling. If you don't, you could end up losing more than the cost of repairs due to low offers and a protracted sale process. If you don't have the time, money or drive to complete major repairs before putting your home on the market, it's important to price your house accordingly. Don't think you can sneak problems past a buyer; if an issue is present, it will be noticed during the buyer's inspection.
Minor household repairs are an easier call. While homeowners grow accustomed to quirks including sagging doors and squeaky floorboards, such issues distract prospective buyers and cause your house to be remembered as “the one with the sketchy railing” instead of “the one with the great family room.”
Should I Renovate Before Selling?
Once repairs are complete, the sellers' next question is usually about cosmetic improvements. Expensive projects like upgrading kitchen appliances usually aren't necessary unless they're majorly outdated. Instead, focus on low-cost, high-impact updates. Which renovations are best for your return on investment are dependent on the local market so defer to your real estate agent on this subject.
How Much Does Curb Appeal Really Matter?
The one area where it's worthwhile to go above and beyond is your home's exterior. The first step in selling a home is making a great first impression, but that's hard to do without great curb appeal. If your plantings are sparse, potted plants are a quick fix that lets you avoid transplant shock. Container plants near the entrance are also a great way to spruce up your front porch.
Pay attention to driveways and walkways: In addition to washing these surfaces, homeowners should fix unsightly cracks. For concrete driveways, follow instructions from Bob Vila. If your driveway is asphalt, Lowe's will show you how.
Do I Need to Deep Clean?
No one wants to buy a dirty house, so it makes sense to deep clean before showing your home (cleaning service will typically charge between $75 and $125). In addition to keeping floors, windows and counters clean, take note of odours lingering in your home. If carpet and upholstery cleanings fail to eliminate an unpleasant odour, turn your nose to the air ducts. Air ducts and vents can host a variety of odour-causing contaminants such as pet dander and mildew; if your ventilation system is the source of odour, you'll need to schedule a professional duct cleaning to solve the problem.
Once a home is sold, it's standard to leave it “broom clean” for buyers. However, some contracts may stipulate the house is to be deep cleaned before changing hands. Talk with your agent so you're clear about what level of cleanliness your contract requires.
If your agent instructs you to clean, repair and update your home before showing it, he's not just giving you a hard time. Homes that have been cleaned show better, which leads to less time on the market and higher offers. Unless maximizing your sale price isn't a priority, completing these tasks is in your best interest as a seller.
Jason Hafso of MaxWell Challenge Realty is passionate about helping people buy or sell homes. Call me at 780-964-7335 if you’re ready to get the process started!
Suzie Wilson has been an interior designer for over 20 years. What started as a hobby, turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. Her debut book, The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is COMING SOON to online retailers and bookstores near you!