For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate June 27, 2011

What's the Difference Between Home Maintenance and Upgrades When Selling Your Seattle-Eastside Home

Getting ready to sell your home?  You’ve contacted your agent who’s given you a laundry list of things to repair, replace or upgrade before your home goes on the market. Are the things your agent wants you to do maintenance items or upgrades?

If these items are completed, does it mean that you can get more for your home?  Probably not, but it means you won’t sell your home for less either.

Most people don’t think about having to do much before selling a home.  But on Seattle’s eastside, the buyers don’t buy if things aren’t done.  Buyers here think homes built in 1991 are old.  They’re looking for a fresh, new feel. My east coast friends have trouble understanding this because they often live in homes that are 50 years old or more, but here on the Seattle’s eastside it has become the normal expectation.

Many home sellers confuse needed maintenance with upgrades.   Some of what needs to be done before putting a home on the market falls in the category of maintenance and some falls under upgrades.  A lot of people confuse the two items. 

What’s maintenance and what’s a true upgrade?

Some of the basic maintenance items that everyone should do before putting a home on the market:

  • Bark and edge the planting beds
  • Get rid of weeds
  • clean windows
  • Clean the roof and gutters
  • Pressure wash the driveway, walks, decks, and patios
  • clean the carpets

The list below includes more maintenance items.  Many home owners think these are upgrades, but they’re not.  If any of the following needs to be done, it means a home needs these repairs.  It also means the home will sell for the true value it deserves, not for more, and not for less.  Buyers won’t buy a home that needs paint or a new deck.   The bank also gets involved in some of these issues. If a roof doesn’t have 5 years of life,  the bank won’t loan on the home.  If the deck is a safety hazard, again, it becomes an issue for the bank and the deck will need to be repaired in order to sell the home.

  • paint the interior or the exterior if needed
  • replace or repair the deck or patio
  • Repair or replace your roof

Upgrades that are considered part of maintenance because you’re replacing things that are older:

  • New light fixtures
  • New faucets
  • New appliances
  • New counter tops
  • New carpet

But even these upgrades won’t bring you more money than the value of your home.  It helps you get the true value you deserve for your home.

What’s a true upgrade that will net you more money?

  • Stainless Steel appliances, granite counters, new kitchen cabinets
  • Remodeled bathrooms
  • Expanded decks
  • New landscaping

If you hope to make more money for your home than its actual value, plan to do some remodeling.  It will cost you money, of course, but you’ll generate quite a bit of it back when you sell your home.  There needs to be some major updating and remodeling to net more than the actual value for your home.  Most of the things that you need to do a

The reality is most people have to spend some money to make any money when selling a home.  Some only need to spend $1500-$2000 to do the basic maintenance items.  Others have to spend more if they have tired, older looking fixtures or more cleanup work to do, but doing these items short of the major remodel will help to sell your home for the price it deserves, not for more money.  It will also help you to keep from selling your home for less than its truly worth.

For HomeownersFor SellersMake More Money Selling Your HomeReal EstateSeattleSeattle real estate May 20, 2011

Spend a Little Money on your Home to Make More Money When You Sell Your Home

If you spend a little money to fix up your home, it will help you make more money when you sell. The little things can help you dress up your home and give you a lot more bang for the buck.   As I’ve mentioned in previous posts,  there are some easy and inexpensive ways to give your home a newer feel.  In the eastside neighborhoods of Seattle, it’s important to do some of these updates because buyers still have a lot of homes to choose from.  Plus, buyers always think it’s harder to make updates than it really is and it will cost them more to do than it really does cost.  This could mean the buyers make a lower offer or they don’t make an offer at all.   I always tell my sellers when the buyers walk into the entry, you don’t want the first thing they think to be:  “I have to change that brass chandelier in the entryway.”  Your goal should be to have the buyers walk in and focus on the home, not something that needs an update.  Eliminate an old light fixture before it becomes an issue.

Recently, I made the trip to Home Depot and Seattle Eastside’s Crescent Lighting Store with one of my clients.   My goal for this home was to update it with some great looking fixtures, but in as economical way as possible. The home is in excellent condition and shows well, but some new fixtures would dress it up beautifully.  The fixtures below are great for traditional homes and work well for homes in the Seattle area that are below the $650,000 price point.  More expensive homes may command more expensive fixtures.  When you go looking for fixtures, take some photos of your spaces and the existing fixtures.  It will help you to pick out the right style for your home. 

Below are some of the plumbing and lighting fixtures we picked out:

Fixtures for updating a home

Chrome Faucet- good for updating a bathroom

Updating a Bathroom to sell a home

Brushed Nickel Faucets

The lighting fixtures should relate well to one another and share a similar style.  If you buy brushed nickel lights, then all of the fixtures should match with a  brushed nickel feel.    The same should happen with the shades or glass bowls.  Many of the bowls today are a smooth frosted look.  Again, all of the lighting should have the same glass look.   Talk with some of the people working in the store and have them help you to choose lighting that comes from a similar line and works well together.

Light fixtures to update a home for sale

Kitchen light fixture to update a home

Fixtures to update a home

Entry Light that will dress up a home

Fixtures to Dress Up a Home for sale

Dining Room Light Fixture

The total cost for this project was about $500.00.  It is $500.00 that is very well spent and will add that finishing touch to a great home.  Can you think of some other inexpensive ways to dress up a home?

Bellevue Real EstateFor BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersMake More Money Selling Your HomeReal EstateReal Estate OpinionSeattle real estate June 7, 2010

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 6, Replace Your Carpet

Mr and Mrs. Home Seller ask: “Why don’t we let the buyers pick out the new carpet?  We don’t know what color they may want.”

New carpeting updates a home

New carpeting Creates a Fresh, Clean Look

This is one of the most common sentiments I’ve heard over the years from home sellers.  Sellers often think it’s best to leave the old carpet, offer a carpet allowance if needed, and let the buyer choose their own carpet.

Is this right?  Do buyers want to choose their own carpet?

NO.  Not in the Seattle-Eastside real estate market.  Buyers DO NOT want to choose, pay or replace carpet when buying a new home.  In this area, Seattle’s eastside cities of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, and Issaquah, etc., buyers want to buy a home that’s move-in ready.

On Seattle’s eastside,  the typical buyer is a very busy person(s) who may work a lot of hours.  Most buyers aren’t looking to do structural or cosmetic updates to a home. They don’t have the time or the inclination. They want to move in and continue on with their lives with the least amount of disruption. They don’t want to be replacing carpet. Besides, there are lots of Seattle-eastside homes to choose from and many of the other homes have been updated and are ready to go.

Most home sellers don’t want to replace carpet either, but think about it.  The buyers don’t have to replace your carpet because they don’t have to buy your home.  They have other homes to buy.  However, as the seller, you have only one home to sell and so you’ve got to do it.   Remember, if you feel like you don’t want to replace the carpet, the buyer probably feels the same way. The catch is, they don’t have to do it, they can buy another home.

So if you want to get an offer to buy your home and make the most money while selling your home, replace your carpet if it’s worn, discolored, has stains, you name it.  Make sure it looks fresh and clean, otherwise it will cost you money in the sales price for your home and it could even cost you getting a buyer.

Should you spend a lot for expensive carpet?  Absolutely not. You should put in a good grade of carpet, but one that is similar to what builders install in new construction.  Make sure you pick a neutral color and install a good 8 lb. pad underneath the rug. A thin pad with new carpet won’t work.  It’s easy to tell that either the carpet or the pad are thin the minute you step on it. It feels like you’re on cement.

Looking for some other tips to get the most money when selling your home? Read Parts 1-5, planting some “green,” when to set the sales price, yard clean up dressing up a front door, and replacing moldings and doors.  Pick what your home needs to get it “dressed up” to sell in the competitive Seattle real estate market.

For HomeownersFor SellersReal EstateRemodeling and style trendsSeattle real estate May 12, 2010

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 5, Moldings and Doors

Make more money selling your home is my series on getting your home sold, not just getting it ready to sell, but getting it sold. These posts are a series of suggestions for things you can do to update your home before you sell it.  Updated homes sell faster and for more money than homes in need of work. Better yet, if you want to do some of these things while you’re still enjoying your home, go for it.

You may not do everything, but if you read all the posts, you’ll have a good idea of what home updates will get you more money. You can decide how best to spend your money and what works for your budget.  Read Parts 1-4, planting some “green,” when to set the sales price, yard clean up, and dressing up a front door and the rest of the series (coming soon), to pick what your home needs to get it “dressed up” to sell in the competitive Seattle real estate market.

Spending some money updating your home will help you make more money selling your home.  In the Seattle real estate market, particularly on the eastside, most buyers are looking for homes updated and ready to go. There’s a very small pool of buyers looking to fix up a home on Seattle’s eastside.

Today’s topic:  moldings and doors. Clean, fresh white moldings and doors.  Some homes will have a theme and look better with wood doors and moldings, but many homes will look great with white woodwork.  If you’re starting from scratch, you can pick from many different door styles.  In today’s home market, doors can be anywhere from two to 6 panel, with the two panel doors growing in popularity.

New Doors Dress Up a Home for Sale

New Doors Dress Up a Home for Sale

Before you pick the style of door, think about the type of neighborhood where your home is located. If it’s an upscale, high-end neighborhood, buyers will expect top quality.  You’ll throw your money out if you go with inexpensive finishes.  If the home is situated in a starter neighborhood, then go with hollow core doors, so you’ll save money.  Solid doors are far more expensive.   Pick something simple that matches your decor.  Be practical and spend the least amount of money, while getting something that looks good and is the quality to fit your neighborhood and style of your home.

Moldings:  Does your home have those skinny, outdated flat moldings from the 60’s or the 70’s?  If so, it’s time for a change.  Go with thicker baseboard moldings to dress up a room.  Moldings finish a room off, making the overall finished look richer and better. Again, keep it simple and buy pre-painted moldings, if available.

Updating Moldings in a Home

Thick Baseboards Add A Quality Look to a Home

For the high-end neighborhood, maybe it’s repainting existing moldings so they look fresh and clean.  Maybe it’s adding more crown moldings or chair rails in different parts of the house.

Dressing Up a Room By Adding Chair Rails

Dressing Up a Room By Adding Chair Rails

Don’t have the money to replace all the doors and moldings? Then paint them white, so they look fresh and clean.    Make sure to use the right painting tools and paint. If you’ve never painted doors and moldings, then find out how to paint them so the surfaces will be smooth.  Use a semi-gloss paint and it will help make the moldings pop.  It will also help keep the moldings clean when done.

If painting is not your thing,  it’s probably better to hire someone who knows how to paint these surfaces.  Again, don’t throw your time and money out by doing a poor paint job.

Whatever your budget allows, the doors and moldings should be fresh and clean when you sell your home.  If they’re not, it will cost you time and money in the sale of your home.

Do you have any other ideas about making doors and moldings look good?

For SellersHome maintenance tipsMake More Money Selling Your HomeReal EstateReal Estate Opinion April 30, 2010

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 4, Dress Up the Front Door

You’re a home buyer out looking at homes. You pull in front of a home that looks kind of interesting.  You stand by the front door as your agent gets the key out of the key box to open the door.  You look around the entrance and notice dirt and scuff marks on the front door.  The brass plate is all tarnished, there are scratches by the key hole and the door mat is dirty.  It looks like there’s been years of wear and tear and you haven’t even been inside. 

A dirty front door and scratched hardware is not a big deal, or is it?

Buyers, what do you think?

Tarnished door handle

Tarnished front door handle

Dinged front door key hole

Scratched front door key hole

I heard from past buyers that it raises a lot of questions. Mostly, the buyer is wondering how well the home has been maintained if something so obvious sticks out when you first walk up.    Will this buyer be taking a closer look at the house?  Will the buyer start wondering if there might be maintenance issues.  Possibly.

A nice front door and shiny hardware make a big difference. It keeps the level of positive energy and interest up.  It’s like seeing a blind date for the first time, you want that person to look good from the “get go,”  not with messy hair or dirty clothing.

Dressing up the entrance to a home for sale

A Beautiful Front Door Creates a Great First Impression

Put flowering plants by the front door to dress it up

Flowers By The Front Door Add a Nice Touch

So home sellers, stand out in front of your home by the front door, just as a buyer would.  Look at what the buyer would be looking at when standing at the front of your home.

  • Is your front door dirty?
  • Is it in need of paint?
  • Is the hardware gleaming and fresh or is it scratched?
  • Are the railings in good shape?
  • Are the steps neat and clean?
  • Do you have flowers providing color by the front door?
  • Is the doormat, fresh and clean?
  • Do the house numbers look clean and stand out?

None of the fixes for the above should cost a lot of money.  It can actually cost you more money if these items are not in good condition. Here are some more suggestions for creating that great curb appeal.

So before you sell your home, think of it like getting ready for a date or going to a party hoping to meet someone.  In this case, your home is meeting a potential buyer.  The buyer has a lot of options to choose from, like you might at a party.  Help the buyer to choose your home by getting it ready for the party, oops, I mean to sell.