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 BuyersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate April 16, 2010

Make More Money Selling Your Home, Part 3, Clean Up Your Yard

Want to Make the Most Money Selling Your Home?  Clean up your yard. I spoke about planting flowers previously, now I’ll talk about having your yard looking good.

Bad looking lawn

Unsightly looking lawn hurts a home sale.

You’ve heard of a “bad dye job”?  This is a bad lawn job.  This lawn exists in front of home for sale, a home that has a sign in front of it!  Seriously.

If you were a buyer, what would you think?  Would this lawn make you question how well the home is maintained?  Would you question whether the owners cared for their home?  It leaves a terrible impression.

Preparing for your lawn when you're selling your home

A green lawn that's ready to go

This is the front yard of another home.  The yard is not fancy, but it looks well taken care of, creating a nice first impression. It doesn’t raise any red flags about maintenance, but instead helps a buyer focus positively on the home, rather than creating a negative feeling from the “get go.”   Help buyers get out of their car to see your home.  Make them want to come inside, not drive away.

Unkempt corner of a yard

A yard should not look like this when selling a home

The yard above should look more like the one below.  Some homeowners neglect the little back corners of a yard.  There can be some simple, inexpensive fixes, which make the corners of the yard look neat and organized.  Gravel, bark, and some edging, whether it’s bricks or stones or something else, give it a finished, neat feel.  None of these materials cost a lot of money.  They can be somewhat labor intensive, so the choice would be to pay for it and do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.  It would depend on your budget, time, and energy. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, this video form the DIY network gives some basic tips for ‘greening”  your lawn.

This yard helps to sell the home

A Nicely Organized Corner of the Yard

Regardless, you need to clean up your yard to make the most “green” when selling your home.

For HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal EstateReal Estate OpinionReal World Real Estate March 9, 2010

Fixing Up Your Home to Sell? Call Your Real Estate Agent First.

Getting ready to sell your home and needing to get it in show condition? There was a great article filled with tips on what to fix to get your home ready in last week’s Seattle Times. But there was one important thing I disagreed with in the article.

So before you call a real-estate agent, go over the property to determine what needs to be repaired or possibly replaced. Make a list of both major and minor jobs. Tackle big projects first.

I disagree, call your Real Estate agent first!  Why?   Because your agent can help you with this list, saving you time and money.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

I’ll never forget the time an excited client called me to list their home.  They’d spent several months preparing their home for sale.  Teal blue carpet greeted me when the front door was opened.  My heart sank. It was brand new carpet. They were so proud of it.  They just loved the color.  Unfortunately, this carpet color was the number one complaint I heard from buyers and other agents.  Buyers didn’t love the teal blue.  It took a lot longer to sell the house because of the carpet color, costing the sellers time and money with the sale of their home.

I could give other examples, but the point is a seasoned real estate professional who’s out working with buyers on a regular basis will be in a position to tell you what needs to be done.  Since agents are out seeing homes all over Seattle’s eastside and work with both buyers and sellers, they’ll know what’s expected in the marketplace. Buyers will need to be excited about your home, see it as fresh and ready, and a good value in order to buy.  The agent can help you establish what the right amount of repairs and remodeling is so to meet the expectation of your local real estate market and the local buyers.  You don’t want to overdue it nor do you want to “under do” it either.   You don’t want to replace your bathroom vanity, as an example, if you don’t need to do so.  Maybe a dimensional formica or engineered granite will work in your home instead of granite.  Maybe you don’t need to do a complete kitchen remodel, but new appliances will do the trick. The goal is to have your home looking “mahvalous” as Billy Crystal would say, by only doing the things that really should be done.

Your agent will help you develop a list of the important things that must be done down to the “it would be nice to be done” category.  By doing so, the real estate agent will help you spend your money wisely. A good agent will know some of what an inspector, appraiser, and a buyer will expect to be done. It’s impossible to know everything, since not all things are visible and every home and buyer are different, but a real estate agent can add quite a lot from past experience.  They’ll have a list of skilled contractors who show up on time and do the job right.  Your real estate agent may also know contractors who are more reasonably priced who could do the job.

If you don’t already have an established relationship with an agent, interview agents right away.  Establish a working relationship with the agent you select to represent you.  Expect this agent to be your home advisor from the “get go,” well before the buying public knows you want to sell. The agent should spend time helping you create your repair list, making contractor and materials suggestions, and provide general advice about the local real estate market.  This should all happen well before you go on the real estate market and the “For Sale” sign is posted in your yard.