Recently a couple that owned a home in Berkeley, Calif., decided to move to neighboring Piedmont. They started their search by visiting Sunday open houses. It was quite apparent to them which listings had been prepared for sale and which ones had not. They were invariably drawn to listings that were charming, clean, and uncluttered.
Looking at open houses helped this couple realize what they needed to do to their Berkeley home to ensure that it would attract buyers. By the time their home went on the market, it was charming, clean and uncluttered. It sold quickly and the sellers realized a handsome profit.
As a seller, you have several options when considering how much work to do before selling. One option is to do relatively little and sell the property in it’s “as is” condition. Another is to invest time, effort and money into fixing the property up before you sell. A third option is to do a combination of the first two approaches.
In making your decision, keep in mind that in general buyers pay more for homes that are in move-in condition. Most buyers would prefer to buy a turnkey listing that doesn’t need a lot of work. A home in great condition will usually attract more buyers than will one that doesn’t show well and needs a lot of work.
But there is a market for fixer-upper properties, although it is more limited. Fixer buyers will pay more for fixers that have a big upside potential. Fixer listings sell at a discount when compared to listings that are in move-in condition.
HOME SELLER TIP: A higher sale price is not the only benefit to be derived from fixing up your home for sale. If you’re doing the fix-up work, rather than the buyer, you have control over the improvements. You can shop the repair work for the best price. This can save you as much as 15 to 30 percent. Just make sure you use licensed contractors who will abide by city building permit requirements.
Often the decision of how much fix-up for sale work to do will depend on how much time you have before marketing your home. The best approach is to plan ahead so that you have as much time as possible. It can take months to get a house ready to sell, depending on what kind of work needs to be done.
No matter what kind of time frame you’re working with, consult with your real estate agent before embarking on major fix-up work. Plan to walk through your home with your agent. Make a list of all the items that should be done before you sell. Ask your agent which reports should be ordered and order them as soon as possible.
The next step is to get bids from contractors and trades people for the recommended work. Also find out about availability and how long it will take to complete the work. With this information you can fine-tune your fix-up for sale work.
Some projects may be too costly and some may not be able to be completed within your time frame. Your agent can help you prioritize if necessary. Other projects, like de-cluttering and cleaning cost practically nothing except your time and effort.
THE CLOSING: Even if you decide to sell “as is,” it usually helps the sale to present a property that is clean and free of debris. Buyers need to see what you have to sell in an uncluttered state in order to make a decision to buy.
By Dian Hymer
Inman News Features