Some things to keep in mind when putting your home on the market.



What are the two most important rooms in your house (from a buyer's point of view)?

Should you spend a lot of money on remodeling before putting your home on the market?

The answers are given later.

As a seller, what you want to do is put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer. It's important for you to see your house through the eyes of someone looking at it for the first time. The best way to do that is ask a friend or neighbor to come over and take a look at your home as if they were in the market. Many times, they will be able to suggest improvements that you would miss.

A good first impression is important. A house's "curb appeal" is how it looks to someone driving up to it for the first time. That's why it's a important to have the landscaping and outside of the home in good condition. Clear up the clutter in front of the house. Make sure your lawn is mowed and the bushes are trimmed. If a buyer's first impression is favorable, they will want to look further. If their first impression is not so favorable, this will influence how they see everything else about your home.


What can you do to make your house as desirable as possible?

First we'll start with the simple things:

- As stated, keep the lawn mowed and the yard free of clutter.

- Keep the walkways and steps free of ice, snow, toys and leaves.

- Turn your porch lights on when showing your home in the evenings.

- Try to avoid having strong odors in your house - fresh baked cookies however, would be great!

- Do not smoke - if possible try to do your smoking outside during the entire time that your home is on the market. You could actually loose a sale to non-smoking buyers.

- Keep the drapes and blinds open. Let as much light into the rooms as possible.

- Have flowers and greenery throughout the house.

- Keep the temperature at a comfortable setting.

- Have the fireplace on if it's a cold day.

- Turn the television off and have soft music playing.

- If possible, keep the kids and pets outside.

- Clean your bathrooms and kitchen. Don't leave dirty dishes around.

- Keep your closets free of clutter.

- Clean those easy-to-forget rooms like the garage, attic, basement, workarea.

- No dirty windows or mirrors.

- The floors should be scrubbed and the carpets vacuumed.

- And finally, don't interfere with the real estate agent showing your home. They know what to point out to the buyers.



- If it is needed, paint both the inside and outside of the house. It's best to use neutral colors. Fill the holes and cracks on the walls and ceilings. 

- Replace your old wallpaper if it is in bad shape. Otherwise, just make sure the walls are clean.

- Remove the stains in the sinks and the tubs.

- Replace the tile in your bath and kitchen if needed. However, most of the time, a good mildew remover and some grout will take care of unsightly tile.

- Have your carpet cleaned.

- Go around the house and tighten or replace missing door and cabinet handles.

- If doors are hard to open and shut or they squeak, lubricate them. (Soap can actually work as a lubricant on drawers and doors.)

- This is the time to have those cracked windows fixed. You can have the glass replaced at your local hardware store or glass shop. It's not as expensive as replacing the entire window.

- Also, fix those leaky faucets and make sure the drains in your tub and sinks are not clogged.

- If your hot water heater or furnace need replacing, do it. Add the cost into the price of your home. New buyers don't want the hassle right after moving in. This would also give them the option of financing the added cost - something they couldn't do after the sale.

- Make the necessary repairs to your roof if it leaks. If there are water marks on walls or ceiling, cover them with a coat of paint after you make the repairs.

NOTE: You must tell the buyers about material defects on a property that would not be apparent during a routine investigation.

- Check the fence on your property. Repair and paint it if necessary.

- How about those cracks in your driveway? If it's blacktop, have it resealed.



What are the two most important rooms to a buyer?

Number 1 is the kitchen and number 2 is the bathroom(s). This is why it's important to have both of these rooms in top condition. Make sure your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and garbage disposal are in good working order. Replace the floor and the tile on the walls - or at least make sure they look new. If your cabinets are in bad shape, get them fixed. Replacing them may or may not be cost effective. (See the answer to the next question.) 

For the bathroom: replace the shower curtain, clean the tile around the tub (grout if necessary), make sure there are no odors. Keep clean towels hanging.

Should you remodel?

For the most part, major remodeling will not be cost effective. In other words, you will probably not make back all of the money you put into it. The exception may be kitchen remodeling (in the $3,000 to $8,000 range). Here you may actually, see a 'profit' for your efforts.

The next closest would be a bath addition ($10,000 to $12,000) and major kitchen remodeling ($15,000 to $20,000). Studies have shown that these two may not have a pay back of 100%, but they could be close. Of course, the more you spend, the least likely you'll be to make it up in price. This is especially true if these additional costs put your house way above the average price in your area. However, if selling your house fast is very important, any remodeling will help. Home buyers would rather see the home improvements than be told how much potential the home has.

Other remodeling efforts that will probably not bring you a return on your investment: bath remodeling, family room addition, master bedroom suite, attic bedroom, a new deck, replacing your windows, replacing your siding, and adding a sun room. If you want to do these things, make sure you're going to be in your home long enough to enjoy them. Otherwise, leave them for the next owner.