BOSTON, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- One of the occupational hazards of being a sign painter is that you're so close to your work that you don't often see the mistakes you've made until you take a step back. I compare this to homeowners hoping to sell who can't see the problems that potential buyers notice right off the bat.
Mr. and Mrs. Home Seller, I won't disparage that distinctive vinyl flooring you installed in the kitchen in 1978. I won't say that the ceiling fan you had made out of an airplane propeller isn't, shall we say, unique. And, I have nothing against your wall-to-wall carpeting that used to be a light cream color (the operative words being "used to be"). But in a housing market that's moving ahead full throttle and where the competition is using any means possible to showcase their home, you do not want to be the one home that buyers pass on by.
Small Updates, Big Returns
While not many homeowners are willing to make major improvements to their home prior to listing it for sale, there are a few small things that can make a big difference. If the carpeting has been in place for some time then hire a carpet cleaning company. The only thing that's more of a turnoff to buyers than a stained carpet is a stained carpet that also smells musty. One firm I highly recommend is Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaners (www.StanleySteemer.com). Not only are they excellent at steam cleaning carpeting, I'd also have them tackle the dirty grout and tile in your bathrooms (another turnoff to buyers).
Another small ticket improvement would be washing your windows. Cleaning your home is a no-brainer but many sellers forget that buyers cherish natural light and one of the first things they'll be looking at are your windows. Make sure that each and every window leaves a sparkling impression.
Kitchen Do-Overs Pay Off
You may not be able to strain the budget to replace your outdated kitchen appliances but it's imperative that they be clean, inside and out. It's time to bring out the rubber gloves and scrub brushes since you want your oven, microwave and especially your refrigerator to be spotless. I often advise clients to also take the time to "declutter" the inside of their fridge to show off all the potential storage space. In other words, it's time to toss Aunt Edie's Christmas fruitcake that's been long forgotten at the back of the bottom shelf.
Head to your local home improvement store and spend a few dollars on two items that every home buyer will put their eyes (and hands) on: cabinet handles and the faucet. Replacing outdated cabinet knobs and drawer pulls helps improve the look of older cabinets. And I can assure you that 90% of buyers check out the kitchen faucet. The most popular faucet is the pull-out spray model and they can be found for under $100.
Last but not least, the kitchen floor. Invite an honest friend over to check out the floor and tell you if it needs to be replaced. You've taken the floor for granted for so long that you wouldn't be a great judge. Today's vinyl floor styles are easy to install and won't cost you an arm and a leg.
A Fresh Coat of Color
Nothing improves a home's appearance more than a simple coat of fresh paint. That said there's no need to drive yourself crazy with color choices. Here's a simple tip: if the wood trim and door frames are white, stick with softer, neutral colors in order to make the rooms appear larger; think light greens and blues and tan. If the trims and frames are darker, go with earthy colors such as rusty brown, ivy green and terra cotta. One great online tool to use is the "Virtual Painter" at the Valspar Paints site (www.valsparpaint.com). There you can upload photos of your own rooms and virtually "paint" the rooms in colors that suit you best.
Bottom Line? Bring in the Home Expert
You want your home to be the one the buyers want to buy. Do yourself a favor and walk through your home with the critical eye of a buyer. Look closely and objectively. If the things you see are just OK, then it won't be for buyers. Make your list of things to improve and …. listen carefully here … hire a Realtor. Having them do a walk-through of your home after you have and BEFORE you make any changes can save you lots of time, effort and money. Your Realtor is an expert at staging your home in order to make the best first impressions. Listen to an expert and you won't go wrong.
Get started on these few items right away so you don't miss the Spring housing market. The buyers are out there and so are homeowners eager to sell. Set a personal goal to improve the look and feel of your home and in no time at all you'll have a home that you'd be happy to buy yourself.
SOURCE Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage