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Renovate to Sell? 5 Decision Points

Should you renovate your home before you sell it? The answer depends on so many factors. Your real-estate agent can help you evaluate your house, consider how it compares to other houses for sale in your neighborhood and price range, and determine which home improvements will pay you back for the money, time, and trouble you’d put out for them. As you work with your agent, think about these five issues:

1. Cleanup and repairs aren’t optional—and may be all you need. You may be amazed at what a difference de-cluttering, a professional house cleaning, and a yard cleanup can make. A fresh paint job is always a plus, too. As broker Nelson Salazar advises, you should also make any small repairs that need to be made, before your potential buyer tours your home and decides it needs “too much work.” Cracked front walks, loose railings, broken glass, leaky faucets and burnt-out bulbs are no-brainers. Fix them! Larger repairs, like replacing a furnace that’s on its last legs, are more of a grey area. You may decide to make the repairs before listing your home, or you may decide to negotiate with your buyer and let them buy the new furnace (or other major item) of their choice with a break in the asking price.

2. Know what the competition is like. You should definitely go to open houses in your neighborhood. Besides fun and free cookies, they give you a chance to see what houses for sale in your area and price range are looking like now. Do they have newer appliances than yours? Are their kitchens and bathrooms more up to date? Your agent can also help you learn what your competition is like, and whether home improvements will help you keep up, or price you out of the market you’re trying to sell in.

3. Know what your potential buyers want. As this article points out, a seller’s home improvement only helps if it matches the buyer’s taste. Before you start a major home renovation project, find out what styles are selling in your market. Updating your tiny kitchen won’t help much if buyers are only looking for large kitchens. If you add marble tile to your bathroom, but the buyers prefer ceramic tile, your home renovation costs will go down the drain. Only make changes that are selling well right here, right now.

4. Know how much value your renovation will add. Remodeling magazine offers a wonderful tool for anyone thinking about a renovation to sell. They compile their “Remodeling Cost-Value Report” every year, showing the average cost and value added for home sales for 35 common home renovation projects, and they chart those cost-to-value ratios for each of nine regions in the U.S. You can find their most recent version, the “2011 Remodeling Cost-Value Report,” here. This can help you decide whether your home improvement investment will pay off.

5. Know how much time you have. This decision is entirely about your personal situation. Do you have time to complete a home renovation? Or do you need to sell right away? If you’d rather sell quickly, you may be willing to accept a lower price instead of waiting around for a major home project to be finished.

The Staff at San Juan Realty, Inc.


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