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By July 10, 2018March 3rd, 2020For Home
Reading Time: 5 minutes
White and brick home with a red for sale sign in front of it

Thinking of Selling Your Home?

Do these 5 home improvement projects first

Here is the good news if you are selling your home: it is a seller’s market and you don’t really have to do much. Low inventory means homes are not staying on the market long. But a cluttered home, messy yard, chipped paint or other deferred maintenance could mean you won’t sell your home for the highest price possible.

With a few simple updates, you can appeal to a variety of buyers and get the best offer possible in the shortest time. You also want to get a return on any projects you take on, so what you spend on improving your home should translate into a higher selling price. According to Remodeling magazine, major renovations rarely pay off. Tips are provided on what projects not to do, as you likely won’t see a return on investment.

1. Paint
Painting the walls is one of the least expensive updates you can make. Fresh color without holes and blemishes breathes new life into a home. Paint is also a basis for creating a neutral backdrop for home staging. Put your personal style aside and paint over that purple Minnesota Vikings tribute wall in the man cave.

Just be careful when picking paint colors. Light neutral grays are more popular now than tan or beige colors. Stay away from fad colors that could date your home.

2. Flooring
If carpets are stained, have pet or smoking odors, or are just really out of date, replace them with inexpensive builder grade carpet in a neutral hue that complements your new paint color. Hardwood floors are still extremely popular with buyers. However, you are unlikely to see a return on installing them new. If you are lucky enough to already have hardwoods, consider having them refinished to enhance the natural beauty.

Reflooring will make everything look fresh and new, and help prospective buyers imagine all the possibilities.

Staged home kitchen

3. Repair
Just because you’ve gotten used to cracks in the walls, missing window handles and squeaky doors doesn’t mean a buyer will, too. Do a room by room maintenance check, and don’t forget to look up. Replace ceiling light bulbs and remove cobwebs off ceiling fans. Buyers like to snoop around, so be sure to fix any sticky doors or drawers as well.

4. Curb Appeal
The first impression buyers will have of your home is from the outside. A little sweat equity goes a long way. Remove all rubbish, broken equipment, old swing sets and crummy patio furniture. New mulch is super cheap and will instantly refresh beds, though you may want to lay a weed barrier down first. Fix fences, shingles and clean sidewalks.

Painting outside can immensely improve curb appeal, but depending on the size of your home, can be cost prohibitive. If you are not able to paint the full exterior, considering repainting all of the doors and trim if they are faded or peeling.

Place a small bench and a couple of potted plants near the door for an inviting entry.

5. Stage
You want buyers to see themselves in your home. If your living room is filled with collectibles and personal photographs, this will be much harder for them to do.

The first step is to declutter. Have an early garage sale to pare down what you won’t be moving. Buy large storage totes and start packing décor items to move to your new home. A huge overstuffed sectional sofa that fit the entire family and the dog may need to go down the road and be replaced by a smaller scale piece. Look through interior design websites for decorating ideas that you can duplicate on a budget, or hire a home stager, such as Karen Zell-Verhelst in Fergus Falls, Minn.

“I advise taking all accessories out of a room, then add back in the details,” Zell-Verhelst says. “A punch of color can come from a new throw pillow, rug or flowers, but there should be plenty of neutral, uncluttered space for your eye to rest.” Zell-Verhelst, who is also a top realtor for Keller Williams, recommends home staging for high-end homes, and those that are older or outdated. “A good design balance can add appeal for buyers, but still look homey and inviting.”

Man with a level next to a dog remodeling home
Man remodeling flooring in home

Return on Investment
If you are committed to doing some work, think small. Minor cosmetic upgrades go a long way in getting more buyers through the door and providing a better return on the money invested. In fact, the more high-end the upgrade, the worse the return.

In Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, the two items that will give you the best return in Minnesota at resale are replacing your existing front door with a new steel door (93 percent return) and upgrading your garage door (112.6 percent return). Forget bathrooms (43.9 to 54.3 percent return) and kitchens (47.6 to 54.1 percent return). If you keep a kitchen upgrade to a minimum, however, the return jumps up to 72.7 percent.

If a full kitchen remodel isn’t in the cards, consider a mini-makeover. Paint or reface cabinets (white is popular right now) and install new drawer pulls. A backsplash is usually not a large area, so you can put in nice ceramic tile for a reasonable cost. Get new light fixtures and replace the sink faucet with a stylish new one to make your refurbished kitchen sparkle.

The absolute worst project return on investment, the report says, is adding a backyard patio (39.3 percent). Attic and basement finishing or home office remodeling are also bad ideas, as buyers prefer to update those areas in their own style.

When selling, it is time to make your home appealing to a variety of buyers. Think cosmetic repairs and upgrades first, and carefully evaluate any major projects to ensure the best return on investment.

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