Home Improvements Buyers Will Love

By Patricia Mertz Esswein, Kiplinger's Personal Finance | March 1st, 2017

Planning to sell your home this spring? It's a good bet that if you've lived in your house a while and haven't remodeled lately that the kitchen, bathrooms or basement rec room could use updating.


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Planning to sell your home this spring? It’s a good bet that if you’ve lived in your house a while and haven’t remodeled lately that the kitchen, bathrooms or basement rec room could use updating. Your goal is to decide how much you’re willing to spend before you set a price for your home and list it for sale. That means weighing supply and demand in your market, scoping out your competition, and strategically picking upgrades that will help sell the house and recover your costs.

Agents competing for your listing will give you a comparative market analysis, which includes listing information for properties for sale (or those that recently sold) that are similar to yours in size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The agents will then recommend the improvements that they think will provide the most bang for your buck — the quickest sale or the highest asking price. It’s a good idea to verify their advice by attending open houses of comparable homes in your market.

Before you consider pricier projects, plan to declutter, depersonalize, clean and paint. Neutralize the decor of your home, eliminating a passe color scheme or anything that could turn off potential buyers, such as orange shag carpeting, faux-painting effects or custom murals. Many agents will provide or refer you to a stager, who will remove and arrange furniture to make rooms look bigger and improve traffic flow, or add furniture and decorative accents in a vacant house.

If something, say the roof, is in serious disrepair (and your home isn’t a rehab or teardown), fix it if you can, even if you don’t expect to get your money back. You’ll avoid scaring away buyers or having the issue show up in the buyers’ inspection.

If you anticipate that a major home system, such as a furnace, is reaching the end of its useful life, pay to have it inspected and serviced, says Denver agent Anthony Rael. Leave the contractor’s report and bill on the kitchen counter for buyers to see. Rael also suggests that you consider buying a home warranty, which covers major appliances, wiring, and heating, cooling and plumbing systems. For about $400 to $600, it will protect you during the listing period if, say, an older appliance needs to be replaced, and it will reassure buyers that they will be protected for at least a year after they purchase the home. Real estate agents typically sell you the warranty or refer you to independent providers. (Check the warranty company’s Better Business Bureau rating at www.bbb.org.) You can transfer the warranty to the buyer at closing for a nominal fee.


Patricia Mertz Esswein is an associate editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to moneypower@kiplinger.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.
(c) 2017 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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