Readying Your Home For A Buyer’s Market

What’s the real cost of selling a home? Sure, you are familiar with real estate agent commissions and staging fees, but do you really need to upgrade your kitchen when that 15 year old range has served your family’s needs just fine? Do you think the new owner will want to choose their own finishes and decorating touches? That’s how I, as a buyer, thought. However, a lot of people just don’t have the time to deal with a renovation and chaos after going through a move.

The New York Times just ran an interesting piece by C.J. Hughes highlighting an obstacle that I am all too familiar with. Psst, Seller: Your Stove Is Showing Its Age chronicles the tribulations of New York City sellers trying to unload their homes on a disappointing real estate market. What’s the secret to sellers’ success? According to Michael Garr of the CORE Group NYC, it’s renovating to sell.

Refinishing wood flooring, ripping out closets to make a designated eating nook, fixing shaky stairs—it’s all been done in an effort to move a property.  And in case you are wondering, the cost of the renovations (some teetering at the $100,000 mark) is not recovered in the sale price. Simply, selling a property is incentive enough.

Which made me think—yeah, maybe you only plan to be in this property for 10 years, but that’s no reason to put off a remodel since when you do list it, people expect nice and new. Might as well get some enjoyment out of it yourself!

So what can you do to ready your house for a buyer’s market?

Even though you probably won’t recoup the costs, the best place to unload your shekels is still in the kitchen and bath. Updates to these rooms give the biggest impact when showing a home. Here are 8 tips to get your kitchen and bath ready for its close-up!

1)   Change out the appliances. Yes, there is a lot of buzz in the design world whether or not stainless steel appliances have overstayed their 15 minutes of fame and date a kitchen as totally 90’s. However, that’s a rather niche conversation. For the majority of people shopping a house, stainless steel appliances are considered de rigueur. So much so, stainless steel ranges are available as low as in the $400’s to sky’s the limit pricing for big gun pro-styles like Blue Star or Viking. Choose accordingly depending on what is appropriate for your real estate market.

2)   Install new countertops. Both bathrooms and kitchens will benefit from this upgrade. Again, like stainless steel, the design world is experiencing granite fatigue. Who cares. You are not designing a space for the pages of Architectural Digest. You want to sell and people like shiny things. Granite is an easy, universal countertop choice and you can get as expensive or as budget as you like with it. Other solid surface ideas gaining popularity and prestige include quartz and concrete.

3)   Pay attention to tile. At the very least, give your grout a good scrubbing. There are professional services for hire that will save you some elbow grease. Depending on the condition of your grout, you may want to have the backsplash or shower surround regrouted. Another option is to have the tile reglazed. This will save you a lot of mess and instantly beautify your kitchen or bath. The most expensive option is to tear out the old and put up the new. Because tile is available in a vast array of materials, sizes, colors, and designs, this option can really let you make an eye catching statement and set your property apart from the others.

4)   Clean those cabinets. And paint them. Or just replace them altogether! Cabinets are usually the most expensive part of the kitchen. Again, depending on your market, it may be worth it to go the route of custom cabinetry. However, many homebuyers will be happy with well-scrubbed cabinetry in good condition. If your cabinets are old and stinky, consider replacing them with a line that will compliment the style of your home. And remember, a fresh coat of white paint can take transform dated 1990’s honey glazed maple cabinets into 2010’s on trend look.

5)   Update hardware. Maybe your cabinets are looking good after a nice scrub down with a vinegar and water solution. You saved money by saving your old cabinets but now is the time to bring it with style by splurging on new knobs and pulls. Nothing will grab a buyer’s attention like chunky polished nickel cabinet hardware.

6)   Look down. Is your flooring gross? Whether your wood is scratched, your linoleum is lackluster, or your tile is grimy, invest money in your flooring and add to a feeling of cleanliness in your kitchen and bath. Wood? Consider a new sanding. Tile?  Work on that grout. Vinyl? Tear it out!

7)   Let there be light. A well-lit kitchen or bath will definitely highlight all the good you’ve done! Show off the updated space by adding new fixtures and under cabinet lighting.

8)   Shower luxury on the bathroom. High-end showerheads that deliver a spa experience at home are an excellent selling point, catering to people looking to make their home a haven. Details like this distinguish a property.

Yup, it’s as easy as 1-2-8.

3 thoughts on “Readying Your Home For A Buyer’s Market

  1. laxsupermom says:

    Great post! I agree that while we may debate how over granite and stainless are, it’s still king in most areas. And most buyers(not us, of course) will be so dazzled by shiny new surfaces as to overlook major layout flaws.

    I know that when the time comes to sell, we’ll be refinishing all our hardwood floors. Winters are long here, and I let the boys skate and ride scooters inside the house. I also use our great room to paint furniture,etc. The floors have taken a beating, and prospective buyers will notice.


  2. RHome410 says:

    Even for those of us who want to choose our own counters and appliances when looking for a house can appreciate a big job like floor refinishing being completed and out of the way! 🙂 Good advice.


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