When you’ve decided to move on — whether you’re upsizing or downsizing, accepting a fantastic job offer in another city, or fleeing to (or from) the suburbs — think long and hard about what you really need to do to get your house market-ready. You may be tempted to go into renovation mode, but you might be better off selling your house as-is.
Anything that impacts the home’s operation needs to be fixed before you list, including a leaky roof, a broken furnace, plumbing and the electrical system. These are all things sellers are legally obliged to disclose. If not, a home inspector will identify them to a potential buyer, possibly leading to an offer being withdrawn.
Here are some things to consider when selling your house.
1. Renovation ROI may not be there
Most home renovations don’t pay off instantly. Complete bathroom and kitchen renovations add the most value but also cause the most disruption and can be very expensive. If these rooms haven’t already been renovated, don’t start now. Focus on making sure the existing selling features of the home are in great shape.
2. Living in a renovation zone is stressful
If an owner is fortunate enough to own a larger home with multiple bathrooms and a spare room or two, renovating may not be quite as challenging as it is for those in smaller spaces. But unless personally doing all the work yourself (and sometimes even then), you’re at the mercy of your suppliers’ timelines. You have to live there while renovating even though you’re not going to be the one to benefit. Before you sink $20,000 into a last-minute kitchen transformation, consider just painting or replacing cupboard door fronts and adding new hardware.
3. There’s no arguing with taste
If a potential buyer can’t imagine living in a particular space, they’re not going to make an offer, unless they plan to flip or gut and rebuild. One can’t anticipate how someone else will want to use the space. A study may become a sewing room or a nursery. A small bedroom may become a big, luxurious bathroom. Concentrate on creating a space that suggests multiple possibilities rather than trying to anticipate the needs of someone else.
4. You’ve already made your decision
Don’t let nostalgia influence your renovation decisions when you’ve decided to move on. It is no problem that you never got around to installing that skylight in the kitchen. Your next home may have different light exposure or floor-to-ceiling windows that let in tons of natural light. Don’t just move — move on.
5. Curb appeal starts on the outside, not the inside
All the energy you spend on interior renovations will be pointless if you neglect your home’s exterior. Now is the time to get rid of all the bikes your kids have outgrown, re-seed those patches of lawn where the grass is yellow and create an approach to your home that’s welcoming. If you’re going to invest in something other than landscaping for the exterior, make it something like new patio furniture that you can take to your new home.
6. Clean is more important than new
There’s nothing more off-putting than the sight of someone else’s dirt or evidence of hard usage. Grubby walls, scratched floors, torn carpet, cracked tiles, appliances with fingerprints and ratty towels are small things that unpleasantly remind prospective buyers that other people are using a home. You want them to see themselves in the space. If you really can’t bear to paint over the door frame where you marked your children’s heights over the years, replace it and take the old one with you. Selling your major life investment is about being pragmatic, not sentimental.
7. Keep up with the Joneses, but don’t be the Joneses
While it may be your dream to own a home with a hot tub or a pool, it’s not necessarily someone else’s. The same goes for a home theater, game room or built-in bar. Those renovations may have no appeal whatsoever for an outdoorsy family that spends every weekend off-roading, running marathons or hiking in the mountains. Don’t be the house that’s too much for the neighborhood, or you’ll end up being the house that’s priced way too high. You could end up taking a huge loss as a result.