Not everyone has an unlimited budget to fix up and restore a home to pristine condition prior to listing it, but there are some steps that can be taken to get the most out of your time and money.
1. Get an Inspection
It is way better for you to know of any issues with your home before you put it on the market, rather than after. You can expect buyers to be hard bargainers looking for any opportunity to make you go down in price, which is why you need to be on top of any problems. Home inspections are affordable at anywhere between $300 and $700 – not a lot of money if it saves you thousands. Get the home inspected and accept the information the inspector gives you, even if you don't want to hear it. What many homeowners fail to realize is that the home inspection is one of the biggest hurdles you will need to cross in the home sale process. It is important to understand what the top home inspection issues are that can cause home sales to fall apart and rectify them.
2. Repair What You Can
Depending on your budget and your ability to do repair work, you could possibly fix many of the issues the home inspector will bring up. Every little bit helps, so do what you can. This may include planting some flowers, fixing torn screens, repairing caulking in the bathroom or shower, and replacing small broken items like fixtures or doors. Whatever you can do, do it. It all adds up in the end and may be the little bit that pushes a buyer to make an offer. Some of the more common home inspection items include small electrical safety items like a fault GFI (ground fault interrupter) that are now required in kitchens and baths so you don't get electrocuted if you drop something electrical into water. Double tapping of breakers in an electrical panel are also quite common and easily rectified for short money.
3. Get Estimates on What You Can't Fix
There will probably be a repair or two that you just don't have the money for. Maybe it's a vital repair and maybe it isn't. Either way, you will have more power at the negotiating table if you know what all these repairs will cost. Get a professional to come in and look over what needs to be done and get a written estimate. Maybe even get two if it is a big ticket item. This way when the buyer makes a low offer based on the repair work needing to be done, you will have the ability to counter offer based off of the actual repair costs. Part of preparing for a home inspection is knowing what is likely to surface in the home inspector’s report and the probability that the buyer will either ask for a repair or concession. It is not unreasonable to conclude that a buyer will ask for more than what it actually costs to fix. This happens all the time in real estate sales!
It cannot be overstated how important it is to clean up your home and your property before you show it to buyers. You wouldn’t go into a job interview in your cut off shorts and tank top, would you? Think of showing your home like you would an interview – put your best foot forward. Part of the reason why this is considered a necessity is because it is so easy. It may take time to clean up your house but it is also something pretty much anyone is capable of. Hiring cleaners would be easier, but if you don't have the money you can do it yourself. Besides, you want buyers to think of you as a responsible home owner – one that takes care of his or her home. Cleaning up well will encourage this perception. If you just don't have the time or the means to do the clean up yourself then take a look at Merry Maids which is a cleaning company that can be found in most places.
5. Get Rid of the Clutter
Part of your cleanup process should involve the removal of clutter. It is not enough to clean up around your piles of boxes – you need to move them out of site, preferably off of your property and into a storage space. Part of what people pay for is square footage, the space hidden by all of your clutter. You want your home to be open and inviting. You want to show off all the wonderful space available. However, this will be impossible if your garage, basement, attic and closets are filled with clutter. HGTV actually has some low cost home staging tips that you can follow to increase your homes appeal without breaking the bank.
There is not another low cost improvement that will have a bigger bang for your buck than painting. A fresh coat of paint can totally transform a home especially if the property has bright unappealing color schemes. You want to have neutral colors or even earth tones which have become really popular in recent years. Another thing that should be noted is that wallpaper is out! Nobody wants wallpaper anymore. It really dates a home. Removing wallpaper is a lot of grunt work but once it is gone and the walls are painted, you will have a huge return on your investment when selling a home.
There are a number of cheap plants and flowers you can buy to give your property curb appeal. Combined with a coating of mulch in the beds – which makes everything look more put together – you can drastically improve the landscape of your property for very little money. It will take a little work and a bit of sweat, but you can renovate your flower beds and mow your lawn for next to nothing. It could make a big difference in how buyers perceive your home. If you are selling a home in the late fall or early winter, many larger nurseries will practically give away their plants because they will be dying soon enough if not planted. Typically you will see nurseries selling pallets of plants on the cheap. This is the perfect time to make your home really pop.
Use these low cost tips to prepare your home for sale and you will be well on your way to having a smile on your face at the closing table!