It’s a seller’s market, but homeowners still believe that getting a great price for their property hinges upon doing substantial renovations, from redoing their kitchen and bathrooms to even adding on. It’s rare, however, for sellers to see a dollar-for-dollar return on those renovations, and there are less expensive ways to make your home stand out with buyers.
We asked real estate agents in Greater Boston for advice on how to improve a home’s appeal inside and out:
Declutter. Although some sellers go for a more homey and comfortable look when staging their home, realtors suggest that it might not evoke the same feelings with buyers. Decluttering will make it look bigger, and it helps to remove personal items.
Kimberly Allard of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree suggests looking at all of your horizontal surfaces (coffee and dining tables, counters, desks, mantels, etc.) and removing two-thirds of the items. “People are not buying your personal possessions, and they can become distracting,” Allard said. “We want buyers to remember the house, the space, and for them to envision their items there.”
Marie Presti of the Presti Group in Newton recommends taking a look at each room and considering what furniture can be removed to make the space appear more open. She suggests having one sofa and one side chair in the living room, and to make sure there is ample walking space.
Sellers will have certain attachments to the way their homes look, realtors say, but they need to remember that the more open the house looks, the more buyers will be able to imagine how to make it their own.
“Let people see the corners and walls,” said Mark Triglione of Premier Realty Group in Reading.
Consider painting. The realtors suggested painting the walls a neutral color and removing any wallpaper that is busy. “That’s one of the cheapest ways you can improve your resale value, because a fresh coat of paint goes a long way with buyers,” Presti said.
Replace the carpet or at least have it shampooed. Even better, replace it with hardwood, Allard suggested.
Presti said she always recommends ripping up carpet, particularly if there is hardwood underneath that can be refinished. “Most buyers in the Boston area love hardwood floors,” she said.
Make your home more efficient. According to Presti and Shelley Sainato, an agent with Exit Family First Realty in Wilmington, energy efficiency is on many buyers’ must-have lists.
They look at the insulation, whether the doors and windows have been replaced, and what kind of energy is used to heat the home, Sainato said. “There are a lot of opinions on how they want the house to operate from an efficiency standpoint.”
Up your curb appeal. “Sellers usually throw a nice throw pillow on the side of the couch, or they use a nice wall print to brighten a room, but they forget that the outside needs to be done too,” Triglione said.
Sainato suggested putting in a new mailbox and adding shutters. Allard said that simple steps like repainting the front door and the trim around it and replacing light bulbs can give buyers a good first impression of the house, so much so that it could influence whether or not people want to see the inside.
Landscape. Spend money on a landscaper who knows how to edge a planting bed, Allard said, and put in a dark colored mulch, black or brown, whichever color would complement your home. Putting in plants could be beneficial, but there is a fine line between adding plants that boost a property’s appeal and having landscaping that distracts from the look of the house itself, Allard said.
Power-washing walkways and the front stoop will make the outdoor spaces appear newer and brighter, and removing flaking paint, fixing driveway cracks, and painting or repairing garage doors are also small cosmetic tasks that will go a long way, Allard said.
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