You've been preparing to put the house up for sale for weeks, and you have the sore muscles to prove it. Now comes the moment of truth. Are prospective buyers really going to care about all the work you did? If you did your homework before opening the toolbox, you already know the answer.
"Everyone has heard the cautionary tale about how a swimming pool can actually lower your home's resale value because it creates lots of work for the next owner," says Keith Hahn of Handyman Connection, one of the nation's largest home-improvement companies. "The story endures because it's a great example of how some home improvements, no matter how luxurious, can backfire when it's time to sell."
When an upgrade simply has to pay off, Hahn suggests avoiding renovations that buyers will view as burdens-elaborate décor or landscaping, swimming pools, skylights and more. "That beautiful Victorian stenciling in your dining room will be a problem if a buyer has modern tastes," he says. In general, renovations uniquely reflecting personality or taste will not appeal to most buyers.
Instead, focus on renovations that will save buyers work and illustrate a commitment to regular maintenance. Upgrade kitchen fixtures and appliances. Install new bathroom faucets and toilet seats, clean the grout and replace old caulking. But keep it simple. While these small improvements will immediately pay for themselves, Hahn says a big project, such as adding a bathroom, is a poor short-term investment.
Other upgrades should focus on improving curb appeal. A new front door can modernize the whole house. Looking to disguise an unattractive exterior outlook? Try installing window boxes or hanging flower baskets. Inside the house, spending a day touching up chipped paint or tightening wobbly cabinet hardware costs almost nothing but will pay off big on closing day. "Buyers want to move in and enjoy their new homes, not repair them," says Hahn.
A thorough interior cleaning can also increase perceived value. Remove clutter throughout the house. Shampoo the carpets. Dry clean the drapes. Wash the windows. Make sure faucets sparkle. And don't forget to organize closets and cabinets. "You'll be surprised where buyers will try to peek when touring a home," says Hahn.
Finally, Hahn says, step back and take an objective look at your home. "If anything uniquely reflects the trends of the early 1970s, you can bet that a potential buyer is going to see it as an immediately necessary upgrade," he adds.
Keith Hahn is the chief operating officer of Handyman Connection, a nationwide network of home improvement and repair contractors. For more information, call 1-800-466-5530 or visit www.handymanconnection.com.
Some simple home improvements can make a big difference in the sale price.
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