As published in the Savannah Morning News - 2 June 2013
Last week we talked about visually expanding your space to create the illusion of larger rooms. Space is luxurious! It is a treasure, and buyers want more of it.
So, now we will explore maintenance and repairs. Boring? Not really, because it can mean the difference between selling your house, or not.
Buying a resale home is sort of like buying a used car…if a car is clean, smells fresh inside, and has all the maintenance records to prove it has been well kept, a person can reasonable conclude the car has been loved and appreciated. It becomes a jewel on the market and should sell quickly. Well, this applies to houses too.
It starts with the outside. A lot of assumptions are made as a buyer drives up to your house. If the outside is clean, the yard is manicured and the flower beds are weed-free and mulched, a buyer will take a closer look. Next, the front porch will be scrutinized…are there mud daubers and cob webs? Is your front door clean and freshly painted? Is your outside light sparkling? If not, look at it from a buyer’s perspective. A negative experience on the outside will set up expectations for the inside.
What about wood rot, gutters sprouting weeds, pots with dead plants? All of these are signs of neglect, but are an easy fix and part of regular home maintenance.
Find inexpensive ways to make simple but effective changes, like an attractive collection of potted plants with a splash of color. Concentrate on the front yard and entranceway, where first impressions are most likely to be formed. Fix the wood rot; have the front door painted in one of today’s popular exterior colors, and pressure clean the house, driveway and walkways before you list your home for sale.
After you have examined the outside, do the same on the inside, room by room. Put on “buyer’s glasses”, and look at it the way they would. Make a list and tackle it item by item, room by room.
If you really want to make sure everything is in tip top shape, have a professional inspection done on your home. Leaky faucets, damaged window screens and closet doors that slip off their tracks may seem insignificant, but buyers will make note of these small repairs and tally them up. Doors and windows that don’t lock are not safe and are unacceptable to buyers. It does not matter how long you have lived that way, it won’t pass inspection.
Often, buyers overestimate the cost of fixing these items and can assume they are indicative of bigger problems. Don’t give buyers excuses to walk away or to submit a low ball offer appropriate for a true fixer-upper. Be proactive and repair those things that show up during the inspection.
Another important point: don’t skimp on repairs. Don’t glop on the wood filler and paint over it, thinking that will do the trick. If it looks like a do-it-yourself job, buyers will notice! That applies to caulking as well…it should be neat, fresh and not obvious. Make sure it is done on a clean surface, not over mildew that shows through. Cutting out a piece of wood, instead of replacing the length of board, may cure the wood rot, but it usually does not produce the best esthetic solution.
All these little short cuts may get you off the hook, but buyers are adding up what it will take to do it right. Their offer to buy your home will most likely be reduced by their guesstimate of repair costs. If you can’t do the work, hire a handyman that can complete your list in a minimum amount of time at a reasonable rate.
Remember, you want a buyer to fall in love with your house and appreciate it the way you have over the years. Spruce it up and make it sparkle...they will come.
Next week in Moving Mom…Does your house pass the “Hotel Test”? Stay tuned!