March 2, 2023

All the world’s a stage for today’s home sellers

As the market swings back in favor of homebuyers in today’s housing market, it is tempting for home sellers to pull out all the stops and go into full remodel mode, trying to maximize their listing price.

But big remodeling projects almost never recoup their value, often eating away at healthy profit margins.

Cleaning the home from top to bottom is a no brainer. But there are also quick and easy improvements you can make to a home’s aesthetics, or “curb appeal,” that are also very cost-efficient. In the real estate business, putting your home's best foot forward for listing and showing is known as “staging.”

While there are staging professionals, there are a few basics sellers can take care of themselves to enhance appeal and keep more money in their own pockets.

Always start with the outside. Get rid of any dilapidated yard deco, ratty hoses and any other miscellaneous “junk.” Mow the lawn and trim plants that are crowding any windows. Pressure washing the home's exterior and washing the windows can do wonders.

For a slightly more spendy upgrade, add a fresh coat of paint (consider hiring professionals).

Clutter needs to be removed from inside as well as out. Stacked boxes and overflowing cupboards make the wrong impression. Even if in the middle of a move, try to look well-organized.

Ever noticed that a lot of listings feature obviously personal things like blue walls and distinctive wallpaper? So does everyone else, and they stand out even more when the house is empty.

Personal artwork and kitschy colors might be fun, but make it hard for the potential homebuyer to imagine themselves moving in. Neutralize the house to allow buyers to imagine their own décor. Neutral paints, fixtures and flooring – can be done at a very reasonable cost.

It can be helpful to make some modest updates – like new linoleum in the bathrooms or updated closet doors – even new carpets.

For a little more involved change, a kitchen or bathroom facelift – new paint, refinished surfaces and upgraded appliances – are likely to get a better return than a full remodel.

Consult a real estate agent for guidance – many are experts on staging homes for maximum appeal. The little touches show potential buyers you put in extra thought to go the extra mile. It might make a difference in the bottom line.