J Tillman's Blog

Should I Update My Home To Sell It

John Basinger - Monday, May 06, 2013

Should I sell my home just as it is or should I spend money to assure my sale price is top dollar? If your home has been well maintained, consistently clean and nothing is broken your likely to sell your home whether you update it or not. If on the other hand you have neglected your home consistently over the years and as you look around your home you can honestly say to yourself” I could have kept my home cleaner” You could be a candidate for upgrading.

Upgrading or remodeling can be a positive attribute for a new home buyer but one thing is for sure, it’s not free. So what makes the most sense, should I remodel my kitchen, bathroom, change out my doors, replace all my deck boards and railing, install new windows? There is a point where these items make sense and a point of diminishing return. You should be confident about your reasons for updating areas of your home and weigh the line of positive return. Certain projects historically have a better return on investments than others and there are statistics available to guide you in the right direction.

First, is your home an average mid-range home or an upscale home as it sits right now (not back in the day it was built)? The reason this is important is that it can change your project focus if your are striving for the best return on investment. Everything changes from mid-range to upper range. For example: installing a steel door has the highest return on investment if you have a mid-range home. Put a steel door in an upper range home and some might think this is a downgrade rather than an upgrade lowering your return on investment. Updating your kitchen can have a greater return on investment in a mid-range home over an upper range home (unless you truly know what your doing). Adding a deck addition to an upper range home can have a greater return on investment than a mid-range home.

We think everyone should update their home but we’re in the business of improving your environment.

If your getting ready to sell your home - clean and uncluttered is always the first step. Look at it like this, You moving, you need to pack your things away so you can move, how about doing it now? The cost of storing your stuff in a storage locker or pod is typically worth the expense because it gets your stuff out of the way so people can see the potential of your home for their needs.

Since you’ve lived in your home for years you may not notice items that are dirty because you are use to them looking the way they are. Take a look at your outlets and switches, “Are they Clean”, “Do they look new”? This is one example of making your home look presentable to potential buyers. Swapping out your outlets, switches and covers can give potential buyers the idea you have been on top of your cleaning from the beginning. This is an inexpensive change that can have a positive effect on your return.

What about your plumbing - faucets and fixtures. Do they have mineral deposits that you’ve been starring at for years? Look around the base of your faucets, look at the spigot and the handles, “Are there mineral deposits”? In some cases mineral deposits if left for extended periods of time can etch into the finish and damage the faucet enough that you just can’t get it clean looking no matter how much elbow grease you have. Are your fixtures dated by 15 or 20 years? If you can answer yes to either of these questions you might want to consider replacing your faucets.

How are your sinks? Can you polish them up to look new? If you have a typical size vanity cabinet you can purchase granite tops that have under-mounted sinks already installed. This is a simple upgrade and goes a long way to making your bathroom look clean and well taken care of.

Toilets have changed considerably over the past 20 years. We now have new water restrictions to consider and people have become more eco-friendly. You may want to consider changing your toilets. New and clean toilets can help your sale and give your home a cleaner look. What ever you do, if considering swapping out your toilet don’t go with a round bowl unless your space dictates you have to. Elongated toilets are the preferred shape.

How are your windows? Do they leak? Are they clean? Are any of the panes cracked or have BB holes? When we look at windows, we don’t just look at the glass. Is the woodwork finished nicely, are there any cracks between the window unit and the trim or drywall? Do the windows open and close smoothly? Do they lock easily or do you have to jimmy the window a bit to get it to lock? If anything mentioned above exists with your windows, you can likely have them repaired.

Windows are one of those items that has a definite payback, Yes windows are expensive to replace and they will save on your energy bill but if your selling your home and your windows are repairable, does it really make sense for you to replace them for the new owners benefit? If you have more than two brands of windows in your home it could make sense for you to replace them so your home doesn’t look cobbled together. (“Cobbled” might be a little extreme for describing that fact that you or the people before you found a greatly discounted window brand that is similar in color but then “Junky” or “Scabbed together” could be extreme also. You choose the more acceptable descriptive word that best fits your windows. This tangent is brought to you by a particular home we visited that had 5 window brands installed.)

Interior Trim - is another item to look at. Do you have dogs that scratch at the door to get your attention so you will let them out? If so, take another look at your door trim (inside and out). Examine the window sills and base board around your home. Are there cracks between the trim and your walls (at the top of your baseboard)? If your trim is in relatively good condition and you see the cracks described, a little caulk and paint can go a long way to making your trim look good. These cracks or gaps can sometime be seen around your doors or window trim as well so take a look. Caulk and paint can go a long way.

If your trim is stained wood, this can be touched up with caulk, paint, sand paper, stain and finish. Replacing trim in areas of your home can be done inexpensively.

How does your tile look? Is your gout discolored in areas? Many people don’t realize it but grout is porous and absorbs water. If you haven’t sealed your grout every six months or so, chances are your grout has been absorbing water. Water works its way behind the tile over time and can be a place were mold has a chance to grow. If your grout is discolored its usually one of two things, Dirt or Mold. We are considering soap scum as dirt. Grout can be removed and replaced with new grout. If your wall or floor tiles substrate (the material directly under the tile - drywall, cement board or under-layment) is not damaged new grout is a consideration. If it is damaged by mold or moisture (spongy wall or floor) you should replace everything.

Paint is another inexpensive step and one that most people can apply themselves. Your walls might not look dirty to you but applying a new fresh coat of paint can brighten up walls and ceilings in almost every situation. If you are considering paint as an option be careful about accent walls. Not everyone finds Orange, Chocolate, Green or Pomegranate appealing. Use neutral colors and if an accent wall is necessary try using a color in the same family of colors instead of opposite color wheel. Try using a Zero VOC paint so your home doesn’t smell like a fresh coat of latex just covered everything up so you could sell your home.

Popcorn ceilings - Traditionally used for one thing, covering up bad drywall work. Tons of people have popcorn ceilings and almost everyone wants rid of them. If your selling, this might be an expense that is not worth the cost. If your popcorn texture is damaged it might make sense to remove it and put a more kindly looking texture in its place. If your home is older your popcorn could have asbestos in the texture. If you are not sure do not disturb the texture. Asbestos if left undisturbed can be considered ok but once you disturb it you will need to divulge this on your property disclosure sheet. Double check with a drywall contractor before you attempt the removal. Consider this, popcorn ceilings are a dated texture and no one will be looking at your home that doesn’t realize its age before showing up to preview it. The age is part of the multi-list information.

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