By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent
A strong tendency towards a sellers market will continue until the baby boomers finish the cycle of buying and selling real estate, estimated to end in 20 years, according to the Senior Real Estate Association. Baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) are in their peak years for real estate investment.
Real estate investments will continue to be lucrative throughout the cycle. The realtor and seller must work together to develop strategies to compete in this market. New construction is booming, and re-sells are competing with them. If a buyer looks at a house that needs work, they may assume it's available for a bargain price, the ‘handyman's special.' Avoid this, and obtain the maximum amount for your home sale.
The Value of Obtaining a Home Inspection
There is a number 1 rule in selling real estate for the highest dollar. The seller should obtain a home inspection before putting the home on the market. An inspection will uncover hidden problems in the home before the buyer views it. If the seller waits for the buyer's inspector to inform him or her, the seller will either have to fix it or lower the price. In some cases, sellers lose the deal over issues uncovered at inspection. Sellers can waste 30-45 days during these negotiations, while the home could have been on the market for another buyer.
Remember, the buyer makes 85% of the decision about whether to buy a home when they first drive up . It's much more difficult to sell a house when all the shingles do not match in color, even if the roof is in good shape.
Sellers need to make sure the house has curb appeal for a great first impression. Is the trim freshly painted? Replace rotted wood and eliminate any clutter outside the house. Make sure gutters are cleaned and are attached to the house. The roof should be cleaned of debris with no loose shingles. Be certain vinyl siding on the exterior is secured and in good repair.
Lawn, Garden, Shrubbery
The lawn, garden, and shrubberies are critical. Spend about $15-$85 for some plants and mulch for the front yard. If there is no grass, seed the lawn. Bushes must be trimmed and away from the building to prevent moisture damage. Cut the lawn regularly, and weed the garden.
Some finishing touches include placing 2” of pea gravel around the house between the bed area and the grass area for drainage. If the house has a gravel driveway, put fresh gravel down. Check all outside wood for termite or moisture damage that needs to be replaced and treated.
Paint your house in neutral colors: sand, magnolia, cream. Rooms look best with a yellow tinged base paint because this coloring reflects light and makes the room seem larger. Avoid black ceilings, stenciling on walls, or painting your home in white so it resembles a hospital maternity ward. If there has been a previous leak in the roof paint over the water stains on the ceiling. Fill in any nail holes in the walls.
Flooring and Windows
Bold patterned or bold colored rugs should be removed. It's best to keep the floor coloring neutral for to appeal to many tastes. If there is cracked ceramic tile, or the vinyl floors are scratched or damaged, replace the flooring. Rugs must be freshly shampooed to remove any odors, and carpet holes and stains should be repaired and removed.
Windows need to be cleaned and repaired so buyers can look outside unencumbered. If the blinds are missing slats replace them or remove window coverings altogether.
In the kitchen, you may want to put a fresh coat of paint on painted cabinets, or if they are wood-- oil them. Check the countertops for burn marks or stains, cut marks, etc. and replace them if it is necessary.
In the bathroom, make sure there is no visible mold. If there is, then bleach, caulk, or re-grout tubs, sinks and toilets.
All clutter should be boxed up and stored. Do not place it in the garage. Obtain a storage unit or Pod.
Make certain closet doors open and close easily. Don't forget to replace doorknobs, hinges, brackets, or other missing or broken items.
This may sound like a great deal of work in preparing a home for the market. This attention to small details will help your home sell quickly for a higher price. In some areas of the country, you'll even receive multiple offers for your home. Home buyers are not the only ones who look at these details. Appraisers also tend to assign a higher value to property which is in good condition.
If a property needs attention an appraisers price or buyer's offer will reflect it. Obtain the highest price for a home by investing some time, thought, energy and resources into the details and you will be rewarded handsomely.