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Q + A Series: How Do I Prepare My Home to Sell?

Today we have the first installment of our Q+A series. We have asked the public for general, real estate related questions and our Team of experts are here to answer! Thank you to all who have submitted questions! staged kitchen

Our first question will be answered by one of our Seller Specialists, Steve Kruger. Steve has several years of real estate experience and also uses his economics and finance background to assist clients in making the best decisions when selling their homes.

Q: “I’ll be ready to sell my home in the next 1-2 years. What updates should I consider making now to ensure our house stands out in a competitive market?”

A: This is a question I get a lot.  For some it’s what do I need to do to be ready in a few months and for others, it’s a year or so.  First and foremost, I recommend you look at your home from the perspective of a potential buyer.  Triangle Area Homebuyers want a home that is move-in ready and don’t want to have a project on their hands after they buy a home.  This is a big mistake a lot of sellers make.  They think the buyer wants to choose their own paint colors, flooring, etc.  You are much more likely to sell your home quickly and at the higher end of the market value range if your home is move-in ready.  With that in mind, here are some of the main items that will improve your home’s value and help you sell it for the most money.

First is curb appeal.  The old axiom is true, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”  In today’s world, that mean’s getting the buyer’s attention online even before they come to see your home.  The first picture they always see is the exterior shot of the front of your home.  So look at your home’s exterior and think about what improvements it needs.  These do not have to be elaborate and expensive.  If your exterior already looks great, then you don’t need to do anything.  If it needs improving, then this is often a cheap and easy way to improve your value and get more showings for your home.  Areas I would focus on are the grass, general landscaping and exterior paint and condition of the siding.  If your grass is in bad shape, now is the time to get that fixed.  If you think it will be a year or more until you sell, have it aerated and re-seeded immediately.  Then start a routine fertilization program including a pre-emergent treatment in the spring.  If you want to list in the spring and the grass is in bad shape, consider getting it sodded before putting the home on the market.  Right before going on the market, be sure to add fresh mulch, trim your hedges, etc.  We have a professional stager that will give you free advice on adding some color and warmth to your curb appeal as well and at a minimal expense.

How does the home’s exterior look?  Does it need paint or new siding?  Does it need pressure washing?  This will be the first impression the potential buyer will get and it needs to be a great one.  If any of these items need work, you will be better off taking care of them now.  Your roof is part of this equation as well.  If it has stains, get it cleaned.  We have a list of home care professionals we can recommend to you as well as any of the other items I mention.

Now for the interior of the home.  How does the paint look?  Are the colors neutral or bold and colorful?  Everyone has different tastes and you don’t want to turn off any potential buyers.  This is one area that a lot of sellers have a hard time with, but this is the cheapest and easiest way to increase your value.  If your home needs paint due to wear and tear or has a lot of color choices that a buyer may not like, you should paint.  Buying a home is an emotional event for home buyers.  They have to fall in love with your home.  They may choose to paint over those neutral colors someday, but they will also not view it as a project they have to tackle immediately.  On the other hand, if they don’t like the paint choices or the home just needs new paint, they will look at this as a negative and something they have to do before they can move in.

Next is the flooring.  Is the carpet worn or dated in its appearance?  If yes, you should replace it.  Replacing carpet is not as expensive as you might think and you will reap the rewards.  When a buyer walks through a home that needs new carpet, they get a negative impression and always want to deduct more from the home’s value than the actual cost of new carpet.  Depending on the price point of the home and what your budget allows for, you may also want to add natural or man-made hardwoods in place of the old carpet.   Hardwoods are very popular and will create a strong demand and high value for the home.  One other thing when it comes to flooring.  If your home is an older home and has hardwood floors underneath the carpet, you are sitting on buried gold.  Remove the carpets and if necessary, re-finish the hardwoods.  This will get you more money than even brand new carpet will.

The next area to consider is the kitchen.   Most rooms are fairly plain when you think about it.  They may have nice trim work, flooring, etc., but they’re basically a box with paint and flooring.  The kitchen is what will separate your home from the competition.  If you are in the $250,000+ price range, I would definitely recommend you put in granite countertops if you can afford to.  Your return in value will likely be equal to if not more than the expense and will help you stand out from your competition.  If your competition already has granite, then you need it or need to charge less for your home.  Cabinets are important too.  Do they look old and dated?  If yes, you probably only need to paint them to change the overall aesthetic.  I would recommend white or an off-white color.  This is a simple do-it-yourself project that will improve the home’s appeal and make you money.  If your cabinets don’t have hardware, I would recommend adding that as well.  You can add some tasteful knobs and pulls for a very reasonable price.  As I mentioned before, we have a professional stager who can give you free advice on all these choices as well.

Now that the kitchen looks up to date, it’s time for the next area that may need some work – your bathrooms.  This can often be a very inexpensive update.  One area that typically stands out is gold trim and fixtures.  This was a very popular look in the not so distant past, but now feels very dated.  Often you just need to replace these with a more contemporary look and the entire bathroom stands out.  This is also true of the light fixtures, doorknobs, etc. throughout the entire home.

That should pretty much cover everything.  Just keep in mind that your Wake County home will make the most money and sell quickly if it feels move-in ready.  If you can’t afford to do all of the things mentioned, focus on the ones that will make your home feel like the buyer can just move right in.  Paint and carpeting are the two items that usually stand out when looking at things from this perspective, and if those need improvements, I would do them first.  Good luck and if you need any advice on Raleigh area service professionals, color choices, etc. let us know.  We are the Triangle home experts and are here to help!

Thank you Steve for your expert advice! For more information and tips on selling your home, please visit or call 919.235.0007.



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