Buyers have dozens of homes to consider in your neighborhood, and your goal is to put your home in the best light and price the home right. Rather than taking on large-scale, last-minute renovations, you can get your home in tip-top shape by focusing on a few specific repairs and updating a few key aspects. Follow this list, and you're home will look so good, you might even want to take it off the market.
- Curb appeal is king. Because the exterior is an invitation to the interior, make sure your landscaping is in excellent shape. Clean up the yard, repair damage to the lawn, trim bushes and trees, and plant some flowers. If you don’t have a green thumb, hire a landscaper.
- Repair exterior elements. Nothing turns off a buyer faster than the things they notice first, such as cracked sidewalks and driveways, loose gutters, peeling paint, or curled shingles. Most of these exterior repairs can be done by you in a couple of weekends, or hire a contractor.
- Freshen up the basement. A basement, if you have one, has to be dry, neat and odor free. If you've had leaks or flooding, have a professional basement waterproofing company take a look. Tiny cracks can often be repaired with a method called epoxy injection. Whatever the method, contractors usually offer a lifetime warrantee that's transferable to the new owners.
- Freshen up the interior. A new coat of paint goes a long way in showing off your home. Remember that 90 percent of a good paint job is in the preparation. Take time to patch holes and nicks before you paint, on the walls and the woodwork. To my eyes, a poor quality paint job is worse than old ugly walls.
- Take a look at the floors. If the carpeting in your bedroom has a path worn in that resembles the road to Morocco, consider replacing it. Tile floors that have loose grouting should be touched up or re-grouted entirely. Worn wood floors should be re-sanded.
- Pay attention to how your home “feels.” Make sure doors don't stick and door knobs are installed tightly. Make sure kitchen drawers glide easily and that the windows all open. Make sure light switches all work well. Railings on porches and staircases should feel sturdy when you try to wiggle them, not loose.
- Spruce up the bathroom. This should be spotless -- no mildew, mold or funk (that's a professional term). If the caulk line around the tub looks like a child's science experiment gone haywire, replace it. Buy a new shower curtain. Make sure pipes under the sinks aren’t dripping, and that the faucets work like new.
- Kill clutter. Take a stern look at your home, from a buyer’s point of view. That bobble-head collection of the 1969 Chicago Cubs, while priceless to you, may give a prospective buyer second thoughts about your home. Organize your garage, thin out the closets, and rent a storage locker if you need it. By limiting your personal items, you'll help people envision their stuff in your home.
- Clean, clean, clean. Give your home a basement-to-rafter cleaning like it’s never known. If this is too taxing, hire a cleaning crew to really scrub the place down. Don’t forget the windows, then pull back the drapes to allow as much natural light in as you can.
This represents a lot of work, true. But when your home sells before anyone else's in the area, and at a better price, you can send me a thank you note.