If you’re spending hard-earned money on updates before putting your home on the market, steer clear of these common design mistakes that will hurt your home’s resale value:
- Carpet in the master bath, or any bath, for that matter. Most buyers think it’s gross, even if it’s brand new.
- Tile countertops in the kitchen, even if it’s granite. No one wants the hassle of maintaining the grout.
- Update kitchen counters and leave the dated backsplash and tired cabinet pulls. The 50% update can backfire, with buyers saying, “Why didn’t they finish?”
- Finish every square inch of your basement and leave zero storage space. Always leave a closed-off area unfinished. Better yet, build floor-to-ceiling storage shelves in the unfinished area, spaced to accommodate storage bins.
- Install tile floors throughout the main level, when you live in the Midwest. When in doubt, go with carpet or “hardwoods.”
- Add personalized, style-specific built-ins such as a multi-gallon fish tank room divider. Unless you plan to remove it before selling, save yourself the headache and create something portable.
- Ignore what the wife has hated since Day One of moving in. She represents the next decision-maker, so if the wife hates it, there’s a good chance the next woman will hate it, too. Bite the bullet and make the change. It’ll make you money.
- Become a DIY’er for the first time. It might be the best work you’ve ever done, but the flaws will scream sub-standard to buyers.
- Paint the exterior of your home blue. For some reason, blue houses don’t sell. If it’s already blue, at the very least, make sure the trim is white.
- Install built-ins to a bedroom such as an office, especially on the main floor, and especially if your home is a three-bedroom. This will narrow your buyer pool to mostly single people or empty nesters.
- Leave projects unfinished, justifying to yourself that buyers will want to do it their way. Even if they make changes later, after settling in, they’ll appreciate a move-in ready home, and pay accordingly. If you’re uncertain about the return on investment, run it by your real estate agent, or ask your stager for a priority list. I’ve often prioritized an A- and B-List to help sellers, based on the price they’re targeting.
- Take a Wait and See approach. If you wait for buyer feedback before making changes, you’re creating a mess for yourself. If you decide to make the changes while the home is on the market, you’re in the middle of projects while buyers are walking through. And you won’t be able to raise the selling price when you’ve finished. You’ve also blown that first-week buyer interest.
Sellers used to offer “allowances” for undone projects or updates. However, the over-appraising debacle and subsequent housing market crash changed the rules. For instance, a house no longer appraises higher with a carpet allowance, so you’re essentially writing a check without affecting the loan value.
If you can’t afford to make a change, I typically recommend that you get a quote for it. Maybe two.
Quotes provide a real number for negotiating, and they don’t cost anything. A crumbling driveway, for instance, can’t be fixed in the dead of winter, and it’s not a common project so a guesstimated price might be ‘way higher than the actual price. Tip: Check out the Nextdoor app for local referrals from neighbors.
I often meet with soon-to-be home sellers who are using the next few months to prepare their home for sale. I believe in finding the “sweet spot”—that perfect match of minimum dollars for maximum pay-off. I take many things into consideration, such as whether your home offers desirable features not offered by your comps (like a screened-in porch!), as well as your desired price target.
I’ve saved people a LOT of money over the years! Schedule your pre-staging consultation before you spend a dime, when you have the benefit of time to complete your projects.
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Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
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