Real estate sales have been on the upswing for a while now, fueled by exceptionally low interest rates and renewed buyer confidence. The excess that was built into real estate pricing during the go-go days has been effectively wrung out, providing a stable market and many ready and willing buyers who believe that now they can get a great home at a reasonable price. The trick now for home sellers is to price their property at a realistic level while also competing with other sellers by adding value through such things as cosmetic curb appeal.
Here are some simple but highly effective ideas to help you add visual equity and market appeal without breaking the bank or straining your back from too many days of work:
• Survey the property from the curb, making a list of what needs to be fixed. That includes brown patches in the lawn, clutter at the end of the driveway, neglected bushes along the side yard – or that gutter pipe sprouting a miniature tree nursery because it needs a long-overdue cleaning.
• A coat of new paint or varnish on the door doesn’t cost much, but it can dress up your home and make it look like a million bucks. Replace old, warped garage doors and paint or replace faded mailboxes. Adding new hardware to the front door is also a great upgrade that’s not expensive.
• Be sure the outdoor light fixtures are functioning properly, and tighten any loose handrails while policing the walkways to stabilize any bumpy spots, missing paving stones, or other potential toe-stubbing or tripping hazards.
• Are there are curling or missing roof shingles? Those need to be repaired or replaced because buyers will view them as clues that the house in need of major, costly repairs. They won’t even get past the exterior in order to see the rest of the house.
• Put a crisp, fresh edge along the borders of walkways and flower beds, cutting in the edge with a shovel and then following up with fresh mulch. Or you can buy inexpensive plastic or wooden edging and install it after first trimming back the grass and eliminating the weeds. This gives the yard a manicured and landscaped look.
Before each showing appointment you should open the curtains and arrange for everyone to leave the house for a half hour or so. Buyers feel uncomfortable touring a home when the owners are home, so take the pets for a walk or do your grocery shopping. You don’t want a potential buyer to feel like they are intruding, because the goal is to get them to start seeing your house as their new home. The way to accomplish that is to remove telltale signs that it is somebody else’s home, so they can begin to imagine it as their own – which is the key to closing a sale. Do that by leaving the kitchen and bathrooms clean and free of clutter and making the beds. You should also always put away any valuables like jewelry, purses, and laptops in a safe and secure place. After all you are inviting strangers into your home. Your Realtor will screen them beforehand, of course, but you still shouldn’t tempt anyone to steal by leaving valuables in conspicuous places.