Selling your home

Preparing To Sell Your Home

You want your home to look its best before you put in on the market, but how much you’ll need to do to get your home ready for prospective buyers depends on what type of market you’re in.

In a “buyer’s market,” you’ll need to do more to entice buyers to choose your home over another. In a “seller’s market,” less will need to be done as the demand for homes are high and buyers are more willing to settle for a home that isn’t perfect.

Seattle is in a Seller’s Market so you may be able to cut some corners and still make a healthy return.

Regardless though, every home will need some prep in order for it to sell. Your best source of information to determine what needs to be done and what things you can get away with not doing is to have a long conversation with your real estate agent. Talking with them could help you save a lot of time and money. Here are many of things you should consider talking to them about.

Repairs and Upgrades That Can Add Value

A great place to start is to check out the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report as it gives estimated costs of repair work and what percentage of those costs that can be recouped during the sale of your home and is narrowed down by many areas of the county. A few examples on upgrades that will recoup more than 100% of the cost in the Seattle Area include:

  • Fiberglass attic insulation, 150% of the cost can be recouped.
  • Manufactured stone veneer, 142%.
  • Garage door replacement, 137%.
  • Steel entry door replacement, 128%.

Repairs and Upgrades That Don’t Add Value

While there are exceptions to every rule, some projects will only generate a lot of expense for you and not much, if any, additional income on the sale of your home. If your home already has these features, then fine, but generally, the following home improvement projects are worth avoiding: 

  • In-ground swimming pools and whirlpool baths
  • Gourmet kitchens and high-end accessories
  • Sunroom add-on
  • Extensive landscaping
  • Room and garage additions
  • Home office remodeling 

Areas of Your Home to Consider Before Selling From A to Z

Regardless of how old your current home is, here is a list of areas that you should consider refreshing before you put your home on the market:

Bathrooms can be upgraded fairly inexpensively and most, if not all, of the expenses can be recouped with the sale of the home. Consider replacing the flooring and installing new fixtures and lights. Be sure to check for any water damage as well as that will need to be repaired as well. Be careful not to go way overboard in the process, you’ll find it difficult to find a buyer willing to pay for something that is super fancy, especially if those areas become a lot nicer than the rest of the house. Also, a full bathroom addition comes to just 70% of the costs recouped in this year’s report.

Ceramic Tiles and Grout
Cracked ceramic tiles and dirty grout can be real turn off, but fixing them is a fairly easy with a little elbow grease. Replace only the cracked or missing tiles if you can find replacement ones that match and a fresh re-grouting can make old tile look brand new.

Counter Tops
Unless your counter tops are unsightly for any reason, you’ll probably be fine leaving it as is with the exception of adding some fresh new grout work.

Curb Appeal
You can easily spend more than is necessary in this area and most of the costs won’t be recouped except for major repairs like a cracked driveway. Simple and inexpensive fixes include weeding the gardens, trimming edges, cleaning the driveway and planting a few flowers here and there. Any trees or bushes that have overgrown should be trimmed back as well.

The front door makes a huge first impression so replacing it can be very important and usually the cost involved can be recouped as well. Even if the door itself is okay, take a closer look at the door knobs and hinges. The weather can take a toll on these and should be replaced if necessary.

Hardwood floors are very popular. If your home has hardwood floors but they are covered up by carpeting, consider removing the carpeting. If your carpeting is worn or stained, but you have plywood instead of hardwood flooring, then consider replacing it with a new carpet in a neutral color. Again, this is a personal choice, so allowing a discount for the buyer to purchase their own carpeting might be used as a bargaining tool.

Kitchen Appliances
If your kitchen appliances are old or dented, consider replacing them with new ones. You’ll receive close to 100% back in your investment for doing so as new appliances can be good selling point. Energy efficient models are good for the environment and will help save the new homeowners some money each month – both good selling incentives. However, don’t go overboard in buying the most expensive appliances out there as many buyers are not interested in paying for the extra expense. If your appliances are a bit old, but still run well, they may not need replacing at all. Again, double-check with your real estate agent before making a purchase.

Kitchen Cabinets
If your cabinets are old and dated, consider resurfacing them with new doors and veneer rather than replacing the whole unit as it will be a much cheaper option for you. If your cabinets are painted, consider repainting with a fresh coat of paint that is made especially for the kitchen.

Mold, Mildew and Water Leaks
Any mold, mildew and water leaks need to be addressed and cleaned before selling your home. Don’t try to cover them up with a fresh paint job.

Painting is one of the cheapest upgrades that can make a big impact. If you have only lived in your home for a few years and the walls look good, don’t bother painting. However, if you have walls that have stains or have cracks or have been painted with a “loud” color, dark colors, it would be a good idea to give it fresh coat or two of a neutral color in any shade from cream to tan. Patch up any large holes and seal up cracks too. Also, don’t forget the ceiling. You don’t want to cover up any leak damage, but stains caused by smoke or grease should be taken care of. Plus, nothing beats the smell of fresh paint.

If your home is in need of a new roof, you will more than likely need to get it done as most home buyers will not be interested in purchasing a new home with a major repair needing to be done right away.

Siding, Fences and Decks
At the very least, you’ll want to make sure that all of these areas are clean and that any moss or dirt is removed. Of course, if any siding is damaged, it should be replaced. Any slats missing or broken in the decks or fences should be fixed as well. Check with your real estate agent if you should repaint or stain as the color of one’s home is a very personal choice and it might be best to leave it as it is.

Sinks and Faucets
Stained or scratched sinks should be replaced as well as any leaky faucets.

Textured Ceilings
Many home buyers consider “popcorn” ceilings to be unsightly and they should be removed if possible. However, older homes that feature the bumpy stuff could contain asbestos and will become a health hazard if it is disturbed unless removed by a professional. Be sure to talk to your real estate agent on what the best course of action you should take regarding this fix. It may be best to just leave it as it is.

Consider removing any wallpaper even if it still looks good. Not everyone is a fan of wallpaper and it is one of those things that is uniquely personal. If a prospective buyer isn’t thrilled by it, it might cost you the sale. Most wallpaper can be easily removed with a steamer, then give the wall a fresh coat of paint.

When given the choice, home buyers will pick a home with double-paned glass windows instead of drafty single-paned windows. Double-pained glass windows are great for saving energy too, but can get “foggy” over time. If you have any windows with this trouble, they should be replaced. Many rebates are available for those who choose to use Energy Star-rated windows and appliances. You’ll find all the rebates available in your area by using the Energy Star Rebate Finder Tool.

Wood Paneling
Dated wood paneling needs to be addressed, but don’t bother removing it from the wall as you’ll have a bigger repair project to work on. Instead, simply prime over it and paint with a neutral color for an instant upgrade.