The “secret” to making top dollar when you sell your home isn’t really a secret at all—I’ve been “revealing” it to my clients for years. But because it involves a lot of discipline and elbow grease, many people decide to cut corners. And that’s when the price you could command begins to drop.
Do not be one of those people. During my years in real estate, I’ve seen countless examples where well-considered, well-placed investments of time and a little money have dramatically improved the sales price and increased the speed in which a home has sold.
My report will show you how even minor home improvements can substantially improve the value and marketability of your home. In today’s economy, there are no guarantees that you will recoup what you spend to improve the value of your home—all the more reason it’s important to pick the right investments.
But even when you don’t recoup all the money you invest to upgrade, many improvements can give you an important edge over other homes on the market. And the failure to make some improvements can leave you at a distinct disadvantage as buyers compare your home with the competition. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen time and again.
Spend time before you spend a dime
Unless your home is in mint condition or you’re selling it as a “fixer-upper,” there’s probably a long list of repair or remodeling projects to consider. These can range from relatively simple jobs, such as painting a bathroom, to more complex room-addition or remodeling projects.
In considering any home improvement project, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions: Why are you doing it? Is it work that really needs to be done—a paint job or replacing a leaky roof? Or is it an amenity you’d like that you think might appeal to a potential buyer—a hot tub or home office addition, for example. Will it add value to your home, or have no impact at all? Or will it make your home more difficult to sell?
Some investments—like painting and yard work—involve relatively little cash outlay and yet return many times your cost. Other improvements that you think add value have no significant impact. Adding a swimming pool is a good example. Besides the hassles of maintenance, a pool can reduce your home’s appeal among families with small children because of safety concerns.
Planning is everything
If there’s one piece of advice I would give every homeowner regardless of the circumstances, it’s this: Plan first, then do. Careful planning on your part is a prerequisite to undertaking any home improvement project, major or minor. In fact, the quickest way a “minor” project balloons into a major one is when you haven’t thought things through in advance. I’ve seen more people get in over their heads because they didn’t think things through before starting work.
Whether you hire someone or do the work yourself, expect to spend more time and money than you initially anticipate. But by choosing well, you can ensure that the work you do adds the greatest value at the lowest cost.
Be methodical. Try breaking your list into “exterior” and “interior” projects, then break it down further by room or outside area. Decide which projects you’re going to take on yourself and which will require outside help, and then do a rough cost estimate for each job.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you do the work yourself, you’ll probably recoup more than what you pay out for some improvements. You can probably save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent by removing hired labor from the equation. On the other hand, you might pay more for work done by professionals, but the improvements can speed up the sale of your property.
Whether you should tackle the work yourself or hire professionals depends on several things. Do you have the time? Can your friends or relatives help you, or are you going to do it all yourself? How skilled are you and your helpers in the task at hand?
You may decide to split the job—the contractor does the major work and you do the finishing. Doing at least some of the work yourself, can still save you money. Whatever you do, the key lies in doing it well. If that means hiring a professional, do it. A poorly done job can do you more harm than good.