|10 Low-Cost Ideas to Increase Salability|
Make Homes Welcoming
Tiny details count as much as the big things when you're trying to sell a home.
You can't always predict what will capture buyers' fancy (or what will turn them off). But most buyers respond to certain things, such as a clean, clutter-free home in good repair. Homes that owners keep in tip-top shape for showings garner higher offers than homes that aren't ready for showtime.
Here are ten small-scale suggestions to help sellers prepare their homes for showings.
1. Have a garage sale before the home is listed. Get rid of clutter to allow the buyer to really see your home. Pack away everything you can and clean out items you won't need in your next home. Homebuyers will expect you to be preparing to move, so a few packing boxes here and there can be used to your advantage. They could be a good visual stimulant to someone who is "on the fence;" they show that you are moving and are serious about finding a buyer.
2. Welcome the buyer at the entry. Put out a new doormat, but avoid mats with cutesy sayings. Clean and polish the brass door knocker. Put potted flowers on the porch. Make sure the front entry floor is always sparkling clean and the porch and steps are always swept. First impressions count.
3. Stimulate buyers' imaginations. Set the dinner table with your best china. Use the coziness and romance of the fireplace to advantage. Put a pair of wine glasses and a vase of flowers on the coffee table in front of the fire. Your goal is to set a scene that will encourage buyers to imagine themselves living in your home.
4. Be ruthless about odors. If there is a smell, your house won't sell. Use cleansers of all kinds to make the home smell fresh, from carpet freshener to potpourri. Deodorize cat litter and scoop litter daily. Put cedar chips inside the closets. However, be careful when using room sprays as they can irritate allergies. You can also use the sense of smell to your advantage by having fresh-baked cookies on the kitchen table, creating a welcoming sensual environment for your potential buyers.
5. Create a spacious feeling. Make sure that all doors, cabinets and drawers open all the way without bumping into anything or sticking. Clean out the entry closet and put only a few hangers in it, so that the buyer can visualize winter coats. Move oversized furniture to a storage facility. Make sure entrances to all rooms have an open flow.
6. Make the most of views. Disguise unsightly views. Put a screen or a basket of flowers in front of a fireplace if it isn't in use. Let breezes move your sheer curtains at the window. Make sure the interior is visible from the street. All windows must be crystal clean and clear.
7. Create counter space. Store away extra appliances. Put away dish racks, soap dishes and other clutter. Decrease kitchen clutter further by removing magnets from the refrigerator.
8. Avoid eccentric decor. De-personalize your teenager's room, the game room or other areas by removing wild posters or any decorative item that could be construed as offensive. Remove decorations which might not appeal to the masses, from hanging beads in doorways to jars where your children store their spider collections.
9. Let there be light. Increase the wattage in light bulbs in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms. For showings, turn on lights in every room.
10. Show how your family made the house a home. Put photos of your the family enjoying your home in at least three different places.
Now, ask your neighbor or friend to step back, stand outside the front door, as much as 30 feet away, and evaluate the feeling they get. Is the house warm and inviting? Does it feel like home? Then perhaps it will to buyers, too. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference.
What You'll Net at Closing
To find out how much money you'll net from your house, add up your closing costs and subtract them from the sale price of the house.
Closing Costs for Sellers
Mortgage payoff and outstanding interest.
Prorations for real estate taxes.
Prorations for utility bills, condo dues, and other items paid in arrears.
Closing fees charged by closing specialist.
Title policy fees.
Transfer tax or other government registration fees.
Remodeling That Pays
Handouts for Consumers
Upgrading your home is always appealing, but which enhancements get you the best return for your money when it's time to sell? The 2004 Cost vs. Value Report by Remodeling magazine and REALTOR® Magazine has the answer.
Visit REALTOR® Magazine Online's Cost vs. Value page to view reports from previous years, order reprints, and find out how you can take part in next year's survey. Here are the national averages for 10 of the projects in the 2004 report:
MAJOR KITCHEN REMODEL
Update an outmoded 200-square-foot kitchen with new cabinets, laminate countertops, and standard double-tub stainless-steel sink with standard single-lever faucet. Include energy-efficient wall oven, cooktop, ventilation system, built-in microwave, dishwasher, and garbage disposer. Add custom lighting and new resilient floor. Finish with painted walls, trim, and ceiling. Include 30 linear feet of semi-custom grade wood cabinets, including a 3-by-5-foot island.
Job cost: $42,660
Value at sale: $33,890
Cost Recouped: 79.4%
Update bathroom that's at least 25 years old. Replace all fixtures to include standard-sized tub with ceramic tile surround, toilet, solid-surface vanity counter with integral double sink, recessed medicine cabinet, ceramic tile floor, and vinyl wallpaper.
Job cost: $9,861
Value at sale: $8,887
Cost Recouped: 90.1%
MASTER SUITE ADDITION
On a house with two or three bedrooms, add a 24-by-16-foot master bedroom suite over a crawlspace. Include walk-in closet/dressing area, whirlpool tub in ceramic tile platform, separate 3-by-4-foot ceramic tile shower, and double-bowl vanity with solid surface countertop. Bedroom floor is carpet; bath floor is ceramic tile. Paint the walls, ceiling, and trim. Add general and spot lighting and exhaust fan.
Job cost: $70,245
Value at sale: $56,257
Cost Recouped: 80.1%
FAMILY ROOM ADDITION
Add a 16-by-25-foot room on a crawl space foundation with vinyl siding and fiberglass shingle roof. Include drywall interior with batt insulation, prefinished hardwood floor, and 180 square feet of glazing, including windows, atrium-style exterior doors, and two operable
skylights. Tie into existing heating and cooling.
Job cost: $52,562
Value at sale: $42,347
Cost Recouped: 80.6%
Replace 10 existing 3-by-5-foot double-hung windows with vinyl- or aluminum-clad, double-glazed, wood replacement windows. Wrap existing exterior trim as required to match. Don't disturb existing interior trim.
Job cost: $9,273
Value at sale: $7,839
Cost Recouped: 84.5%
Remove existing roofing to bare wood and dispose of properly. Install 30 squares of fiberglass asphalt shingles with new felt underlayment, galvanized drip edge, and mill-finish aluminum flashing.
Job cost: $11,376
Value at sale: $9,197
Cost Recouped: 80.8%
In a house with two or three bedrooms, convert unfinished space in attic to a 15-by-15-foot bedroom and a 5-by-7-foot shower bath. Add a 15-foot shed dormer and four new windows. Insulate and finish ceiling and walls; carpet unfinished floor. Extend existing heating and central air conditioning to new space. Retain existing stairs.
Job cost: $35,960
Value at sale: $29,725
Cost Recouped: 82.7%
Create a 20-by-30-foot entertaining area with wet bar, a 5-by-8-foot full bath, and a 12-by-12-foot auxiliary room. Exterior walls are insulated. Include five six-panel primed hardboard doors. Main room includes 15 recessed ceiling light fixtures, three surface-mounted light fixtures, and snap-together laminate flooring system. Bathroom includes standard white toilet, vanity with cultured marble top, resilient vinyl flooring, two-piece fiberglass shower unit, a light/fan combination, vanity light fixture, and recessed medicine cabinet. Bar area includes 10 linear feet of raised panel oak cabinets with laminate
countertops, stainless steel bar sink, single-lever bar faucet, under-counter refrigerator, and vinyl floor tile.
Job cost: $47,888
Value at sale: $36,457
Cost Recouped: 76.1%
Add a 200-square-foot sunroom to a two-story house. Form and pour footings for slab-on-grade foundation. Use exposed post-and-beam framing on interior side and extruded aluminum window frame-and-flashing system with insulated, low-E, laminated, or tempered glazing. Provide for natural ventilation using screens and ceiling fan. Insulate all non-glass areas; provide movable shades for glass area.
Job cost: $31,063
Value at sale: $22,002
Cost Recouped: 70.8%
Add 16-by-20-foot deck using pressure-treated SYP joists supported by 4-by-4 posts set into concrete footings. Install composite deck material in a simple linear pattern. Include a built-in bench, a planter of the same decking material, and stairs. Provide a railing system made of the same composite material as the decking or a compatible vinyl system.
Job cost: $6,917
Value at sale: $6,000
Cost Recouped: 86.7%
12 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor
1. Get at least three written estimates.
2. Get references and call to check on the work. If possible, go by and visit earlier jobs.
3. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.
4. Be sure that the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.
5. Make as small a downpayment as possible so you won't lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.
6. Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.
7. Be sure that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn't. Also remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
8. Ask if the contractor's workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will do parts.
9. Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.
10. Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.
11. Guarantee that materials used meet your specifications.
12. Don't make the final payment until you're satisfied with the work.