Just a few years ago, it was common to give your house a facelift before putting it on the market — renovating outdated rooms, staging each area and applying a fresh coat of paint.
The goal was to make your home as competitive as possible to draw the most interest from prospective buyers.
In today’s market, not so much.
Thanks to record-low inventories, most sellers can plant a “for sale” sign in their front yards and wait for the offers to pour in.
Still, real estate professionals say that though you don’t have to — and shouldn’t — put money into your home that you’re not likely to get back in today’s market, there are things to do to prepare your home for sale.
“You always want to put your best foot forward,” said Jim Murphy of The Murphy Real Estate Group in Frankfort. “That doesn’t mean completely remodeling, but getting your house in a good place.”
Here’s what local real estate agents advise clients to their home “in a good place” in a seller’s market:
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While painting the inside of a house was a must before putting it up for sale just a few years ago, this common upgrade is a bit more murky.
“Painting a room if it’s already beautifully painted just to make it more neutral may not be necessary,” said Karen Nicholson of RE/MAX 10 in Orland Park.
The quality of the paint on the exterior of the house may be more important, however. If there is chipped, the home won’t qualify for Federal Housing Administration financing. In that case, if a homeowner accepts an offer from a buyer with an FHA loan, chipped paint will need to be fixed.
Fixing minor repairs now can save a headache later, Nicholson says.
Leaky faucets, a missing plank on a deck or outdated outlets are common problems — and easy fixes — that will likely show up on inspection reports.
“If your seller chooses an FHA buyer, the appraiser would want the GFIs (ground fault circuit interrupter) to be updated,” Nicholson said.
Even if homeowners choose not to make any upgrades before listing their house, most real estate experts agree that decluttering is a must.
“Look at everything in the house and if you aren’t going to use it between now and when you move, box it up,” Murphy said. “Get it out of the house so the house shows better.”
Decluttering should include furniture as well, says Mike McCatty of the Mike McCatty Group in Orland Park.
“If you don’t want to bring new furniture or items to your new home, get rid of them now,” he said. “Give them to charity or throw them out.”
Nicholson also recommends depersonalizing a home, including removing family pictures, before putting it up for sale. This gives buyers the opportunity to imagine their own families living there, she says.
“Buyers are looking at the home and using all their senses,” Nicholson said.
Whether your home has pets, smokers or simply hasn’t had a good deep clean in a while, getting one before listing your house can help it smell better and feel fresh, she says.
McCatty recommends decluttering and performing an initial cleaning and then having a professional cleaner come in to hit the details and get sparkling results.
While some of these updates may be necessary in one house, they may not be in another, Nicholson says.
That’s why she says it’s important to consult with a real estate agent who can provide a market analysis to see how any changes may affect your home’s worth and how fast it will sell.
“It’s important to find the right real estate agent to give advice on whether you should do anything,” she said.
In the end, McCatty advises not spending a lot of time and money on areas where you won’t see a large return on investment.
“Today’s marketplace doesn’t dictate doing a lot of market improvements,” McCatty said. “Save it for your next home.”