Chances are your home could use a little updating before you put it on the market. On the other hand, you may have already bit the bullet. Perhaps you decided to go ahead and put it up for sale just as it sits. The problem is that it just doesn't look like you'll get a taker…ever.
The truth is that home buyers want the most for their buck and for their time. Conversely, they don’t want to put the extra hour sand effort into renovating an outdated home if they aren't going to get said home for a steal. That’s why you may want to reconsider your “I will not put another penny into this place, forever and ever, amen” stance if you’re looking to get decent bids for your property. You’d be surprised how little you can invest and see your home sell quickly. You can make a substantial profit, as well.
Trust me; I know exactly how difficult it can be to carve out extra dollars for renovations on a home that you’re planning to leave. However, as long as you have the right marketing strategy, making these small to moderate investments are likely to lead you to a quicker sell and more dollars in your wallet. That, I think, is the the key. Look at these renovations not as money drainers but as investments that will have a quick and powerful return. If you’re worried about your current marketing strategy, read this report and then give me a call. I can definitely help you with that. Besides, there are plenty of small improvements that make a huge impact on how much a buyer is willing to pay for your home. They don’t cost a bundle either. Now, you can go through every single room and renovate if you so choose. On the other hand, if you are really wondering precisely which rooms will give you the most leverage for your investment, the answers are the kitchen and bathrooms. Even better, you can do a ton of the improvements yourself.
Of course, there are some higher end projects that would definitely boost your selling price. With that in mind, they’re also boosting the amount of money you have to sink into your home investment. So, before embarking on anything humongous, you want to make sure that you’re going to recoup at least as much as you have invested in the project with the sell. Preferably, it’d be great to get back more.
The secret to getting the most out of your property through bathroom and kitchen improvements is to focus on overhauling what you have rather than starting over. I’ve worked up a list of different kitchen and bathroom projects that you might want to tackle. This list will help you sell your house as fast as possible, but also for a much higher price. I want to see you meet your home selling goals and let you get on with your future! After all, that is my job.
Think about it. Do you want to go to a restaurant that has a C rating? Of course you don’t! I don’t even want to go to a restaurant that has an A- hanging on the wall. Bearing that in mind, why would a homebuyer want to purchase a home with a kitchen that is less than inviting? That’s just it; they don’t. That’s why the kitchen is the first place in the home to begin your revamp. These kinds of repairs can go from tiny to outrageously high for most folks, so we'll separate them by expected cost. Before we get started, take a minute to just observe your kitchen domain as it is.
Take a look around and take honest notes on exactly how your kitchen looks.
· Is there grease splattered on the wall?
· Is the pile of junk on top of the refrigerator taller than the actual fridge?
· Are your appliances clean?
· Does the faucet leak?
· Are the corners full of dust and gunk?
· Are your cabinets tidy or splattered with ketchup and mustard?
· How do your appliances look?
· Is the floor clean and attractive, or riddled with worn out holes?
· What kind of structural shape are your cabinets in?
Once you start to honestly observe your lived in kitchen, you’ll realize that you want buyers to see something else. Sure, everyone’s houses get that mountain on top of the refrigerator from time to time, but that isn't what buyers want to see. Remember, we’re trying to get a large return on a small investment. If knocking that mountain down helps, so be it. These seemingly small and trivial imperfections add up to a big ole, unwelcome kitchen. That is not what we want. The good news is that you can change every bit of that unwelcoming, scary kitchen with just a little elbow grease and a small stack of cash!
Cleaning is the Key: First and foremost, clean that kitchen from top to bottom. Literally, start at the top and work your way down. Cobweb the ceiling. Dust the lighting fixtures. Get out the degreaser if you have to, but get the whole room sparkly clean. This project is a deep clean, so you’re going to vacuum out three years’ worth of dust mites off of the top of the cabinets, even though nobody sees them. You’re going to clean out the cabinets and the fridge. You are going to reach into every single nook and cranny to drag shiny, smell-good, spick-and-span out by its nose! Run bleach through the dishwasher. Sanitize the stove especially. Make your kitchen investment shine!
Best of all, you'll have nearly everything you need to clean with on hand! This is as near to free as you can get, my friends.
· Replace Your Faucet: Even if your faucet doesn’t leak, years of wear and tear can leave these babies looking dull and yucky. Check out your local Lowes or Home Depot for nice faucets at inexpensive prices. Shoot, even Wal-Mart has faucets these days! Don’t get the most high end model out there, but don’t go with a cheap plastic contraption either. Be moderate, and think about what you would like to see in a kitchen that you were considering purchasing.
· Update Your Pulls and Knobs: Don’t be surprised if you start to do this, find the perfect knobs for your cabinets and realize that replacing your pulls could cost more than replacing your faucet! That’s okay. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you aren’t going to be the one living with these pulls, and your goal is get out of this home with as much cash in your pocket as is humanly possible. Now, refuse to look at the knobs that are ‘just perfect’ for your cabinets. Instead, look for moderately priced, decent quality pulls that will present nicely enough in the kitchen that will soon no longer belong to you. Save your money for the pulls and knobs in your new home!
While you’re avoiding putting ‘the perfect’ handles on your cabinets, go a step further in your observation. Do you really, really, for real need new pulls? Could you get by with taking them off the doors and cleaning those bad boys until they shine? If that won’t do the trick, will a can of high grade, metallic spray paint do it? See how your investment is getting smaller while your return is getting bigger?
Lighting is Important: Literally, lighting up your home to the max makes viewers feel more at home, and gives the impression that you aren’t hiding a thing. However, replacing old or outdated lighting fixtures is both relatively inexpensive and adds an extra ‘oomph’ to your kitchen, or really any room in your home.
Costs vary, but there are tons of energy-saving, attractive and cheap lighting choices out there. Plus, if you replace the fixtures, you’re off the hook for cleaning the old ones!
In the event that you begin to look at some of your lighting options and find that you just can’t possibly spend this kind of cash, that’s okay. But now you really have the updating bug, right? There is a handy little trick or two that you can use to get the end result without the cost. First off, how far will a thorough clean get you? If not far enough, how far will replacing old shades and globes get you? Still not far enough? Take that baby down and spray paint it just the same as you did your handles and knobs. Better? I thought so.
Spiff up Your Cabinets: You don’t have to replace your cabinets to spiff them up a notch, or several notches, as it were. There are a couple of ways that you can do this. The simplest way, if you have cabinets that are in relatively good shape, is to thoroughly clean, degrease and refinish.
Depending on your style of cabinet, this could mean simply sanding and either painting them or reapplying polyurethane. There are many faux finish techniques if want a wood look but need to paint over your previous Smurf blue cabinets. On the other hand, your cabinets may be seriously outdated and need a real facelift. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to put in new cabinets. Lowes and Home Depot, among many other venues, offer to refurbish your doors for a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire cabinet set.
You can even reinstall them on your own once they’re finished and save a little more money.
· Flooring Matters: If your floor is clean, without holes and still in fairly good shape, you might be able to get by without replacing it. Many home buyers will want to replace it with their own personal style anyway. However, if you have linoleum from the ‘70’s that has more holes than solid patches or water damaged floors, you probably want to look into replacing those coverings. While tile or hardwood works great in a kitchen, these options can also be costly. Plus, unless you’re really knowledgeable about such mechanics, you’ll probably have to pay someone to install it.
There is still hope for your floors though! You can always go with a less costly replacement vinyl. Most anyone can put this down on their own. Keep in mind, however, that if your flooring is functional and serving its purpose, there’s no need to actually replace it. Use rugs to pretty it up, but don’t feel like you must drop thousands on a floor you won’t be enjoying for much longer.
· Replacing Appliances: This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue among home buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors, new kitchen appliances were among some of the most important features that buyers were looking for between 2010 and 2012. Now, about 17% of all homebuyers who participated in the study really wanted stainless steel, but the rest were okay with any style of new kitchen appliances. Additionally, they were willing to pay nearly $2,000 more for a home that had them.
With that in mind, let’s seriously think about this appliance thing. Buyers really do want them included. You want buyers to really want your home. That means if you can afford to purchase new appliances to leave with your home, go for it. If you prefer a higher end stainless steel variety, and can afford it, go for it. However, if you can’t AFFORD it, stop.
Sure, some buyers prefer these niceties, but if you had to, you could drop your sale price reasonably to accommodate them without going into debt. Or, you could offer to leave your old, but good appliances for their convenience. If you go this route, make sure your used appliances are impeccably clean and attractive.
Considering the $2,000 average that buyers are willing to pay for a home with new appliances, you definitely shouldn’t spend more than that if you want to recoup all of your investment.
· Replacing Cabinets: I wouldn’t suggest actually replacing your cabinets unless you have a ton of disposable income and your cabinets are literally falling apart. Remember that you definitely want to make back whatever investment you’ve put in through the sale. Cabinets are not cheap. However, if you do find that your cabinets are completely in shambles, replacing might be your best choice. You could do custom cabinets, of course, but you might consider sturdy stock cabinets from a discount hardware store, as well.
· Get New Light Bulbs – Even if every light bulb in your kitchen, or the whole house for that matter, works perfectly well, replace them with fluorescent bulbs. Doing so will brighten up the entire area.
· Handles, Pulls, Knobs and Hinges – Make sure any visible hinges match your other hardware, regardless if you’re painting or buying new.
Cleaning Your Appliances
Since you’re looking to work with what you have rather than replace it at higher costs, cleaning your appliances thoroughly is essential. The goal is to convince the potential buyers that your appliances are so well kept and so spotless that it doesn’t matter that they aren’t brand spanking new. There are some tricks you can use when cleaning your appliances that will make it easier to keep them up, too.
· The Stove: Cleaning a stove that is actually used on a regular basis is some serious business. Keeping it in shipshape condition is even more difficult.
a. Remember, with most models you can take the knobs off for easier cleaning. Throw those babies and your drip pans in the dishwasher for an easy, effortless fix.
b. Use a degreaser such as Greased Lightning to get the tough stuff. 409 works great on greasy messes, too.
c. Everyone remembers to wipe down the top of the stove well. But don’t forget to thoroughly clean under the range, in the oven and in the sliding drawer, as well.
d. If grease is baked or cooked on, use a sharp straight edge in conjunction with your degreaser to gently remove the grime. Be careful not to knick yourself or the paint.
e. Once everything is in its greaseless glory, use Windex and a polishing rag to shine the top.
f. Also, to make a quick clean easier for when viewers are coming on short notice, line your drip pans, underneath the range and the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil. This may not be attractive all of the time, but all you have to do to prepare for a visit is jerk those pieces of foil out and trash them.
g. You’ll still need to go over the stove as a whole, but there’ll be no more begging baked and cooked on grime to go away.
· The Refrigerator: Nobody wants to eat off of a dirty stove, and nobody wants to store food in a dirty refrigerator.
a. Make sure to clean the entire appliance, including the top, back, sides, front and inside.
b. Use a vacuum hose to relieve the back of built up and unsightly dust.
c. You can use a basic 409 cleaner on the fronts and sides unless you need a specialty cleaner, such as with stainless steel appliances.
d. Take all of the shelves and drawers out, and wash them thoroughly in warm, soapy water.
e. Make sure to wipe out the inside well while none of the shelves are in place. Get every single iota of space scrubbed.
· Dishwasher: You’d be surprised how yucky a dishwasher can get when you just throw the dishes in without giving it a second glance.
a. Naturally, you’ll use a basic cleaner on the outside.
b. The inside needs attention, as well. Wipe it out, and don’t forget the inside edges of the door.
c. One thing you might not think of cleaning is the drain area. Food and muck can get caught in this little area, leaving a less than savory aroma. There’s usually a little strainer type thing meant to catch the food before it can clog up your hose, so make sure and clean that out.
d. Run bleach through a cycle after you’ve completed everything else, and you’ll notice a better smell and brighter inside to your dishwasher.
The next important area after the kitchen is the bathroom. Buyers are looking for immaculate, well-kept baths where they’ll feel comfortable taking care of personal chores. Imagine a public toilet that is less than clean. You feel that cringe coming on. I bet your nose wrinkled up, too. That, my friends, is exactly what we don’t want when we have our eager home buyers dropping by. We would rather have them looking dreamy eyed and sniffing the sweet smelling scent of a lovely personal hygiene repository. It’d be nice if they envisioned a nice, relaxing soak in the tub, too. The only way to make that happen is to make your bathroom spick-and-span, cozy and comfortable.
Updating Your Bathroom for Minimal Expense
· I Can’t Say Enough About Cleaning: Again, we’ll begin with the importance of an impeccably spotless bathroom. There should be no stray hair, Q-tips or toothpaste gook marring your gorgeous room. You can break out those Q-tips to clean the shower door tracks if you’d like to, however. They work wonders there! Again, start at the top and work your way down.
Make sure you attack:
a. Every mirror
b. The entire toilet. You’d be surprised how many people forget to wash the sides and front.
c. The entirety of the shower and tub, including the doors, showerhead and spigots.
d. Underneath the cabinets. Make double sure there are no leaks.
e. Your lighting fixtures.
f. The floor and rugs need to be impeccable.
· Replace the Toilet Seat: Everyone’s toilet seat needs replacing from time to time, but it’s just not something most of us think about. But I’ll bet if you take a real look at your seat, you’ll notice that it is a little worse for wear. That’s just dirty looking to viewers, even if you just cleaned it thoroughly.
· Handles and Pulls – Again: Treat your bathroom handles, pulls, knobs and visible hinges the same that you would the ones in your kitchen. Replace or refurbish them as needed.
· New Faucets – Again: Seriously, these small things count. If you were surprised how inexpensively you could acquire a nice kitchen faucet, you’ll be thrilled with the bathroom faucet collection.
· Lighting Fixtures – Again: You can find even less expensive lighting choices for the bathroom, because it’s typically a small room!
· Replace Hardware: How are your towel bars and toilet paper dispenser holding up? Are they looking a little shabby? No problem. You can find tons of inexpensive, yet nice, sets at any Lowes, Home Depot or Wal-Mart. On the other hand, if you painted your handles, knobs and hinges you might consider painting all of your other hardware to match.
· Replace your sink: Is your old sink stained? Does it look as though the storage cabinet underneath is about to fall apart? You’ve got this under control. Simply replace all of that ugly with a moderately priced pedestal sink
· Flooring – Again: Again with the flooring, I know. But truly, this is important. Naturally if your floor is in good shape, mop it and move on. However, if you have tile and there are spots of stained grout, or even grout that is coming loose, you’ll want to redo that for sure. On the other hand, you can go over presently existing linoleum with inexpensive vinyl stick tiles. These are easy to put down, as well. They are also super easy to replace if one is damaged. Or, you could choose to go over your old linoleum with new linoleum. Since bathrooms are typically smaller than other rooms, the expense is far less than that of larger rooms. You could possibly even make due with a clearance remnant!
· Tub and Shower Overhaul: The potentially most expensive job to tackle in the bathroom is your tub and shower. It's fantastic if you have tile and can simply put in new grout for a more polished look. But if your shower is far worse off, you might consider purchasing a shower surround. Although these can be pricey, they may be a less expensive alternative to completely re tiling.
· Death to Soap Scum: Getting the soap scum off of a shower and tub can make a person think of banning washing in their homes for good. However, it’s a little known fact that Dawn dish detergent will remove that build up easily. Once a week, give your shower a good going over, and enjoy showering a little longer. Your family will be glad you went this route.
· Read Cleaner Labels: Be careful of the types of cleaners you use on your faucets. Some great, heavy duty cleaners are fantastic for tubs, sinks, countertops and toilets. However, they can erode your medal faucets and make them look dingy.
· Don’t Replace Your Shower Head – Clean It: Put a white vinegar and water solution in a plastic grocery sack and tie it onto your shower head overnight. About two cups of vinegar should do it. All of the calcium, rust and lime deposits will be gone in the morning leaving you with a showerhead that works properly and sparkles beautifully.
· Proper Toilet Cleaning Etiquette: First off, when cleaning your toilet, squirt your bowl cleaner in first and allow it to soak while you wipe down the rest. Do the top, sides, front and bottom first. Make sure you save the bowl and rim for last. Just think of all the germs you could be spreading to the rest of your toilet if you start there. Ewww. Scrub the bowl, flush and you are golden! Make sure and use fresh towels or clothes when moving on to clean something else.
· Conquer the Hard to Reach Spot: There is an easier way to clean that hard to reach spot behind the toilet than contortionism. Instead of trying to cram a mop back there, while you’re already in that area cleaning the commode, dust the base board behind it and clean the floor by hand. Don’t use the same towels you used to clean the toilet, by the way.
· Keep Clorox or Lysol Wipes Handy: I stash Lysol or Clorox wipes (whichever was on sale when I went shopping, truthfully) in all of my bathrooms and my kitchen. If you do the same, when a last minute visit pops up, you can wipe down all of the essentials without doing a wholehearted deep clean. It leaves a wonderful smell!
My goal is to help you sell your home as fast you can, and for you to make as much profit on it as is possible. Really, these improvements will boost your homes salability tremendously, and you can see that you don’t have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to make it happen. I’d be thrilled to help you out more if you don’t have a realtor, or if your realtor hasn’t let you in on these little secrets yet. Let’s get your home sold!
Scott Realty Consultants