5 remodeling tips to sell your home in a hot market

  • 5 remodeling tips to sell your home in a hot market

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

    Father and daughter undertaking a DIY home project

    The U.S. housing market is on the upswing in a very big way:

    • The May 2016 Case-Schiller Home Prices Indices showed home prices increasing at a rate double that of inflation, according to David Blitzer, managing director, and chairman of the Index Committee of S&P Dow Jones Indices.
    • Home prices in the western U.S. are climbing the fastest, and data from online real estate brokerage firm Redfin predicts Denver, Seattle, and Portland, Ore. will be the hottest markets of 2016.
    • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), of their 20 hottest metro markets for May, the top nine were all in western states; seven in California.

    If you live in a U.S. metro area where the housing market is nearly as red hot as the record-breaking temperatures, you may be hearing weekly from real estate agents who claim they have buyers for your home at the ready. It's very tempting, but what home upgrades make for a quick sale at top dollar?

    Buyers wish lists differ from one market to another:

    Take New York City, for example. Manhattanites have very specific ideas about their kitchen appliances and if you're selling in that market and don't have the right ones, you may want to replace yours. Homes with exposed brick are much-sought after there, but if you have no brick to expose, you may want to add other features that attract New York City buyers.

    What about upgrades in those hot western real estate markets? While the rest of the country still demands granite counter tops, Coloradans clamor for quartz as do LA homebuyers. In Seattle, heated floors to chase the chill are all the rage.

    Still, there are some general rules of thumb for what home improvements help sell your home, regardless of the market.

  • First impressions can make or break interest immediately

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

    Blue front door

    Don't ignore your home's curb appeal. Cut back the overgrown trees and bushes or have them removed. Repair or replace rotting fence pickets, door, and window frames; scrape peeling paint and give the front door a fresh coat of color. Replace the welcome mat if it's worn out its "Welcome." In late spring and summer, add flowering plants even if only in some pretty pots.

  • De-personalize your space

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

    New kitchen with no personal detailsIt's not going to be yours too much longer, so cut the cord now. Put away anything that announces your identity to a potential buyer because they need to visualize themselves in the house. Some things you might want to pack away or start de-cluttering for your own imminent move include family photos, refrigerator magnets, excessive tchotchkes, and anything that identifies your personal and social leanings if you're selling in a diverse market. You and your potential buyers don't need to share the same opinions; you're only hoping to make a real estate deal happen.

  • Don't undertake major renovations if you want to sell asap

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

    White cabinets in a kitchen

    When you're rushing to get your home listed, it's not the time to start demoing your kitchen unless it's seriously outdated or damaged. But if your appliances are beyond repair, get new ones, and if your cabinets are outdated but still sturdy, paint, refinish, or reface the doors and drawers or change the pulls and hinges. If you never got around to remodeling the master bath to install that freestanding, claw-foot Victorian soaker tub you've always wanted, don't bother now. Unless your bathroom is a house of horrors or you know for a fact that every home that's selling for top dollar on your block has a fabulous master bath, save your money.

  • Know what upgrades buyers in your area look for

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

    Modern dining room

    A local real estate agent who is familiar with your market can advise you what most buyers want. If you're in an upscale neighborhood, for example, make sure you know which appliance brands the buyers in your market favor. Do homes in your area appeal to buyers who are adamant about energy-efficiency? If so, maybe the most important upgrade you can make is a new energy efficient heating and cooling system to replace your 10-or-more-years old furnace and central air conditioning.

  • Repair, replace, or thoroughly clean the worst problem areas

    Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | June 29, 2016

      Broken shingles on a roof

      Are you ashamed to let your guests use your bathroom? Does your kitchen look like a photo in Better Homes and Gardens -- from the '70s? Even more important than fancy remodels in most markets are major home components that you may have neglected for too long. A roof that's been replaced recently may attract more buyers than replacing good enough kitchen cabinets with high-end ones. Savvy house hunters know they at least won't have to fork out serious money for a new roof right away, which may make them feel better about your top-of-the-market asking price.

        In a hot market, you may be lucky enough to get most if not all of your remodeling investment back in your sale price but your home may not sell much beyond what similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood, so don't go overboard. On a positive note, if you're in hurry to sell, a freshly remodeled home may get you a contract faster.

        Remember that you may also be house hunting as soon as you find a buyer, so consider some of what will excite or turn you off in your own search for a good home. Chances are your potential buyers have similar interests or concerns you'll want to satisfy to take full advantage of the best market in years.