Selling a home in a buyer’s market can sometimes put sellers at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving high offers. But luckily, there are easy and cheap steps a seller can take to automatically boost the value of their homes. These 5 pointers can help sellers list at a higher asking price, without having to take out a home improvement loan.
1. Depersonalize and, if possible, move out
Cost: $0 (DIY) to $2,500 (hiring a professional)
Potential return: 3 to 5%*
The more cluttered and messy your space is, the harder it will be for the buyer to envision him or herself living in it. Emptying out a property before presenting it at an open house is beneficial for two reasons: firstly, it removes distractions that may tamper with a buyer’s perception of the house, and secondly, it makes the living space look larger, lighter, and cleaner.
Depersonalizing the home is the most important step in this process. Buyers have a hard time imagining their own families living in the home if every room is jam-packed with your own family photos and knick-knacks. Pack away any images, clothes, decorations or books that don’t add to the interior design of the home. Rule of thumb: if you can’t imagine the item displayed in a furniture catalogue, it should be hidden away!
De-cluttering can be a time-consuming process, but the earlier you start the less overwhelming the task will seem. As soon as you’ve set your mind on selling the home, find a storage solution for your personal belongings and a place to stay- at least during the time frames of open houses and visits.
If you’re downsizing and have a lot of belongings to pack away, consider hiring a professional to save on time and energy.
Before hosting the open house, check off these extra points to make your home seem more spacious and welcoming.
1. Open all the curtains, blinds, and windows if you don’t live on a noisy street.
2. Turn on all the lights- even in the bathroom.
3. Dust and vacuum the entire interior, and wipe down all the surfaces.
4. Make sure the entryway is cleared out and sparkling clean. First impressions count!
*Potential increase in asking price, assuming home value of $205,000.
2. Revamp the kitchen before any other room
Cost range: $300 to $5,000
Potential return: 3 to 7%
Every real estate broker will tell you this simple fact: the kitchen is the heart of the home and the most important selling point of any property. If your kitchen is looking worn, grimy or out of date, a kitchen makeover is the single most important step you should take before listing for sale.
But this doesn’t mean that you should spend an arm and a leg on replacing your entire kitchen. Start with functionality. Are your faucets leaky? Are the hinges on your cabinets on their last legs? Replace any fixtures that leak, shake, creak or flicker.
Once the kitchen is fully functional, consider putting some of your budget towards a spruce-up. Repainting the cabinets, changing the tiling or adding a brand new counter can work wonders towards the appeal of your kitchen. When planning your palette always opt for light, neutral colours like whites, greys or light blues rather than bright tones.
If you don’t have the budget to replace anything in your kitchen, make sure you spend a couple of hours scrubbing, shining and polishing every square inch of your kitchen.
Right before an open house, run this routing kitchen check:
1. Has the garbage been emptied out?
2. Is the sink clean?
3. Are the surfaces shiny?
4. Has the kitchen been thoroughly deodorized?
5. Have all the appliances, dishes and gadgets been hidden away in the cabinets? (Keep your surfaces completely empty for the best visual effect!)
3. Turn your bathroom into a mini-spa
Cost range: $200 to $1,000
Potential return: 2 to 3%
When buyers visit a home, they want to feel that every room in the house is fresh, clean and well maintained.
Simple improvements like caulking the tub or re-grouting the tile floor will go a long way in a buyer’s mind. You wouldn’t want to drive away a potential buyer because of something as avoidable as a dirty sink or stained bathroom tiles.
The importance of lighting is often overlooked in a bathroom. If the lighting makes your bathroom look dingy, or if it gives your complexion in mirror a greenish hue, you might want to consider an upgrade. Switching your fixtures for brighter, shinier ones will make also the space look cleaner and more appealing.
If you’re selling on a budget, here are two essential changes your should make to your bathroom that will cost less than $200: Get new bathroom curtains and a new toilet seat. You’ll be surprised at how your bathroom automatically looks fresher.
Right before an open house, use this bathroom checklist:
1. Have all personal towels, soaps, shampoos, and creams been removed? The only toiletries that are allowed during a visit are unopened ones used for staging. And if you have towels on display make sure they are brand new, ironed and folded rather than hanging on the wall.
2. Are the sink and surfaces clean?
3. Are the tiles and floor clean?
4. Is the tub/shower sparkling?
5. Has the shower curtain been pulled back?
6. Are all the lights on?
4. Paint the walls a light, neutral colour
Cost range: $500 (DIY) to $3,000+ (pro)
Potential return: 1 to 3%
A fresh coat of paint is the quickest way to transform a room. But be selective in which rooms you choose to paint. Unless you’re selling a luxury home, it probably doesn’t make sense to fork out thousands of dollars on a full, professional paint job.
Kitchens and bathrooms are the two most important candidates for a complete paint job given the high traffic they see. They’re also the easiest rooms to paint because they tend to have the smallest surface area.
Brightly coloured rooms should also be toned down. Most people won’t be able to look past bright, gaudy colours in a bedroom or living room. If your walls are brightly coloured you should automatically assume that buyers will want to repaint them after the purchase- and this will reflect in their offer.
Neutral palettes also allows buyers to focus on a home’s attributes. Grays and beiges are convenient because they’re not too warm, not too cold, and they work with most types of furniture. Buyers will be able to comfortably envision themselves and their own belongings in the space.
Before listing your home for sale, check that these particular areas look fresh and brand new:
1. The bathroom and kitchen walls
2. The window panes and ledges
3. The door frames
5. Check your curb appeal and/or entrance
Cost range: $100 to $7,500
Potential return: 2 to 5%
You wouldn’t go to a job interview or a first date without washing your face and putting on a nice, clean outfit. That’s because you know first impressions count for a lot. So when selling a home, you need to make sure that the first view a buyer gets of your home is a positive one. This perspective will subconsciously shape their impressions of the rest of the house.
Your front door is an important factor for both condos and family homes. Giving your front door a fresh paint-job and replacing your welcome mat with a fresh, clean one will work wonders for the rest of the facade.
If you’re selling a family home with a yard, make sure you make any needed repairs to your porch, driveway or garage before listing the home.
If you’re selling a condo, your entry way takes the place of your facade. Make sure it’s clean, uncluttered and well lit so that buyers feel welcome as soon as they walk in.