Part of your financial well-being may involve selling your home if it makes sense for your household finances.
My husband and I bought a condo in 2008 and struggled to pay the mortgage and ever-increasing homeowner’s association fees as the years went by. Seven years later, as a result of the poor economy, we made the tough choice to sell our unit. It wasn’t until then that we realized we needed to make swift changes to increase the value of our place.
We contacted the realtor and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty in Kahala, Myron Kiriu to take a look at our colorful, well-loved apartment to see if we could make improvements before we placed our unit on the market. Here’s a few of his tips:
• Highlight what makes your place more valuable.
My condo was around 780 square feet, an unusually big place in Hawaii as most two-bedroom apartments in metro Honolulu will measure around 600 square feet in the same price range. Myron advised us to show off the size of the unit by getting a storage room and putting almost everything we owned in it.
For others, there may be an amazing view which you could highlight by leaving all the windows open during the open house and having clean, new curtains. You could highlight a huge garage or a spare room by cleaning it up and organizing. If you have a pond or waterfall feature, make sure it’s clean and in working order. If you have a nice fence, fix any imperfections.
• Give your place a fresh coat of paint.
Just as a new car has a distinct new car smell, a freshly-painted place has the look and smells of a newer place, something that would attract most buyers. My realtor found an inexpensive painter that would do a good job and was fast and thorough. He picked some neutral colors and painted every room. We had repainted the place when we bought it but in crazy, unique colors that only certain buyers would love. I loved my multi-color condo, but if we had kept it that way I’m sure it would never have sold as fast as it did.
• Think of your flooring and windows.
We had wrecked our carpet beyond being able to clean it to spruce it up for a quick sale. Since we didn’t have the budget to spend a lot, our realtor suggested an inexpensive yet durable neutral colored carpet throughout the living room and bedrooms and easy to clean flooring with cove base molding for the kitchen and bath. If you have broken tiles that can be fixed or a hardwood floor that could use a good sanding and polishing, those may be investments that would pay off in a sale.
Myron said our venetian blinds looked dated and recommended inexpensive curtains. He also stressed they should be pushed off to the side during showings and some windows left open to let light in.
• Fix odds and ends.
We didn’t have a lot of damage but there was some minor wear and tear. We hired an inexpensive handyman to fix all the odds and ends as well as change the deadbolt. He also changed the wheels on the sliding glass door so it would easily slide open. The condo was a really simple unit so we had to be sure that there weren’t any minor repairs that people would find during an open house. We also replaced the knobs for the drawers in the kitchen and bath to update the look of the unit.
• Clean, clean, clean.
Decluttering is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add value to your home. Our family of four slept on air mattresses and would deflate them for open houses. That helped the place look very neat and any personal items were removed so potential buyers could really see themselves living in this new place. We hired professional cleaners that made the entire unit look sparkly new. We also had the white tub professionally reglazed. If your tub is in good condition but there are slight imperfections in the finish that won’t come out with cleaning, re-glazing your tub is an economical way of getting a “brand new” tub. It was a shame to leave the place cleaner than I’ve ever seen it!
• Make a good first impression.
A buyer’s first impression will play heavily into their decision to buy a place or not. If you make your home attractive on the outside, this can be the first step to getting a buyer inside and getting an offer on your home. I put in a lot of sweat equity to make sure all the leaves were raked out and scrubbed down so our entry looked presentable. I also bought two inexpensive purple flowers to put on either side of a brand new welcome mat. It wasn’t a lot of money, but I think those little touches added to make a good first impression at the beginning of the open house, right before you step inside.