After a long period of recession and a depressed housing market, things are slowly picking up again across South Florida. Although prices are only rising at a fairly modest rate, just under 20% according to the SunSentinel, more houses are selling, which is great news for everyone.
The bad news for homeowners is that it’s still a buyers’ market. With so many properties up for sale, prospective purchasers can afford to shop around, take their time, and wait for something that’s exactly right to become available.
The average home sells within 71 days, according to the National Association of Realtors. But many stay on the market for months, even as much as a year. If you’re moving away, that’s a long time to hold onto a house you’re not living in, and in Florida’s humid climate, it doesn’t take long for a vacant property to deteriorate and start to lose value. If you’re staying in the house, then it feels like endless frustration if you want to be somewhere else.
So if you’re looking to sell, how do you make your home that must-have property that people will fall in love with the moment they see it?
Focus on curb appeal
The secret is in that last sentence. You want buyers to fall in love with the house before they’ve even set foot inside. Your ideal buyer is one who’s entranced just by looking at the pictures, and then the moment they drive up, they’re smitten. From then on, they’ll be looking for reasons to justify the decision they’ve already made in their head.
When you’re about to sell your house, it’s time to focus on simple maintenance and cleaning. Power wash the drive, trim the greenery, clean the windows, and make your porch look welcoming. But those are just the finishing cosmetic touches, making your existing property look its best. For maximum effect, you need to make your house stand out and be the one that buyers remember.
Remodeling can often be the answer. Tamara Holmes at Bankrate.com notes that “Some remodeling projects not only add to the home’s value, but they give prospective buyers more incentives to buy in the first place, particularly in a competitive market such as this one.”
Not all remodeling jobs are cost-effective, though, so you need to think carefully about how much value you’re adding to your home. You probably won’t get back as much as you paid, but that’s not the objective. What you will achieve is that you’ll make that sale instead of having your house on the market for months. However, some improvements will definitely recoup more than others in terms of both value and the speed of sale.
Glenn Curtis in Investopedia makes the following suggestions: “In order to attract attention and to make your home more memorable, consider custom designs or additions, such as landscaping, high-grade windows or a new roof. This can help improve the home’s aesthetics, while potentially adding value to the home.” Marilyn Lewis at MSN Real Estate adds the following: “Replacing an entry door is an inexpensive upgrade at $1,238 on average, but it pays back 73% and greatly improves curb appeal. Upscale vinyl replacement windows have a 69.1% payback on the $14,328 cost. And garage door replacement may not be high on many wish lists; it’s one of those jobs that you do because it’s needed. But it adds curb appeal and function, and it pays back 71.9%, on average, of the $1,512 average cost.”
It’s significant that all those are external improvements, aimed at creating an immediate visual impact. Making your house look good by replacing doors and windows is clearly a highly effective strategy when you want to make a sale.
Do all the repairs you can
When faced with plenty of houses to choose from, your prospective buyers will be very conscious of any repair work that needs doing. Unless they’re specifically looking for a fixer-upper or intending to do major remodeling anyway, every extra cost will be a disincentive to purchase. They may love the house, but if they have to bring contractors in and incur extra costs before they can move in, or they know that at some point soon there will have to be major disruption while repair work is doe, they may be inclined to go somewhere else.
So don’t give them a reason to do that. “Even minor things, such as a leaky faucet or chipped paint on a baseboard, can suggest to buyers that you might not be maintaining the house well in other ways,” says Cameron Huddleston at Kiplinger. Larger or more obvious problems can put buyers off completely, especially if they can be seen from the curb. Cracked or loose windows, internal doors in need of rehanging, damaged door frames – any of these can be enough to change a buyer’s mind from “yes” to “maybe” and then to “no”. Remember that when they tour your house, they will open every door and look through every window, so don’t count on concealing anything that needs to be done.
So if you’re planning on selling your home, plan ahead. Don’t rely on a quick last-minute cleaning job to make your house attractive. Pay attention to key parts of the structure, such as doors and windows, and make sure that it doesn’t just look good from the outside, it looks irresistible!