When getting your home ready to list, it’s common to look around your house and make a decision to do a repair or update yourself to make your home more appealing to potential buyers. Many things can easily be done well by the average homeowner but be sure to read the tips below to make sure you aren’t making these common mistakes when doing updates in your home:
Shortcuts on Flooring - replacing flooring properly involves removing the molding, cutting the bottoms of the floor jambs out and laying the floor beneath them. When the project is complete all the trim needs to be replaced. If you’ve got new hardwood flooring butted up to base molding or door jambs it’s going to be obvious to most potential buyers.
Sloppy updates in the Kitchen - kitchens sell homes but not everyone can afford to update the entire kitchen so often a homeowner chooses one thing, like new appliances or countertops, and leaves the rest alone. If you’re only going to make one update in your kitchen make sure you measure carefully and the updated item(s) do not stand out against the rest of the kitchen. For example, gaps between the backsplash and countertops or new doors installed on old cabinets are quite obvious to a potential buyer, as are gaps and discoloration in cabinet openings and floors where the old appliances used to be.
Poor Electrical work - don’t be tempted to do your own wiring if you don’t know how to do it to code. A new light or outlet may seem appealing but not if it overloads the circuit and trips the breaker even without having anything else plugged in. Even if you have a professional do the wiring, make sure you are being thoughtful about placing light switches and outlets in areas that are functional and not inaccessible.
Replacing doors halfway - it’s true that most potential buyers won’t try to open and close every door in the house to check for misalignment but your home inspector might! If you are planning to replace any doors in your home don’t plan to keep the existing jamb. Most of the time it’s actually easier to replace the entire door and jamb but cost savings may make it seem more appealing to just replace the door. The result is oftentimes a mistake that results in doors not closing smoothly, failing to latch or doors that open and close by themselves. The same malady can misalign windows as well.
Mismatched metals - trained interior designers know how to mix metallic finishes on faucets, lighting and cabinet pulls for optimal pizazz but the average homeowner may not. A common mistake in updating fixtures and pulls is choosing price over appearance. You may know you need a updated cabinet hardware and go out and buy the most affordable on-trend metal pulls you can find but keep in mind, unless you update the entire room (including door hardware and hinges, light fixtures and faucets), it may not be the bang for your buck you may have been hoping for.
Forgetting about the HVAC - if you do spring for an overhaul remodel in your home that involves drywall work or replacing flooring, don’t forget about the collateral damage your construction zone can inflict on the home’s HVAC system. Go to the furnace blower fan and run your finger along one of the blower fan blades to see if it’s caked in drywall dust or other debris. If it is, the evaporator core for the air conditioner is also going to be caked as well and you’ll want to have all of this professionally cleaned before selling.
Neglecting Safety Features - safety features are regulated by code at the initial installation which may mean that it met code at the time the house was built but may not meet the code of a new install, especially if you’ve done your own improvements. If you have removed railing, built a deck, added steps or finished a basement make sure these additions still meet the safety codes before selling it to another family.
Putting in trees - Mature trees are expensive, and you will not likely get back your investment when planting them prior to selling. Instead, opt for flowers, shrubs and fresh mulch to make your landscaping more appealing to buyers.
“Out renovating” your neighbors - everyone wants the nicest and the newest but be careful when doing updates and upgrades that go beyond the other homes in your neighborhood. Your value will be based on comparisons for houses closeby that are the most like yours in age, size, etc. If you have gone over and above in upgrades that no one around you has, it’s not likely you’ll actually recover the costs you put into those upgrades.
If you don't know where to start in updating your home, call us for a free in-home evaluation and more tips on how to prepare your home for the market.