Will Upgrading a Los Angeles Home Help Sell It?
As a home stager and interior designer in Los Angeles, I am often asked about the value of upgrading a home for sale. The Wall Street Journal recently did a story on this subject: You May Not Recoup The Entire Cost Of These Upgrades When You Sell Your Home. While I agree with the article that you may not recoup the costs of upgrades, some upgrades will help your Los Angeles home sell faster.
The value and wisdom of the upgrades will be reflected in the faster selling time. This results in a net savings of carrying costs (mortgage, property tax, insurance, utilities) and less stress and turmoil. The most frequently asked questions is:
Which home upgrades help make my home more attractive and will help it sell faster?
Answer: Before you put a house on the market you should consider doing the following –
- Interior Painting – unless your home was painted in the past year, you should probably repaint the interior. Avoid pure white unless your rooms are very small and very dark. Choose colors that you might see in a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware Catalog (many paint stores will color match from a photograph or both those brands sell their own <expensive> paint). The art directors who design these catalogs are on top of color trends and know what shoppers find most appealing. Don’t go too dark. A moderate to lighter color can be very charming.
- Wallpaper Removal – Very rare is the wallpaper that will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers. Since your goal is to make your home as attractive as possible to the greatest number of buyers, the wallpaper has to go. Walls painted a single, solid color are always in style.
- Exterior Painting– Depending upon where your home is located, if the exterior hasn’t been painted in 4 or 5 years, you should paint the exterior of your home. At the very least, you should paint the trim and the front door, and pressure wash the rest of the house. To select colors, drive around the neighborhood until you spot a home similar to yours that has colors that are appealing.
- Replace your carpet – If your carpet is newer (less than 5 years old) try having it professionally steam cleaned. If it still appears soiled or stained, or it is more than 5 years old, replace the carpet. You don’t have to buy an expensive carpet – oftentimes just being new is good enough. Select a light neutral color – cream, tan or cafe au lait are popular colors that work with a lot of different architectural styles. Lighter colors will ‘lift’ the room and make it feel larger. Berber is OUT. Select a medium cut pile, preferably with no pattern.
- Replace your appliances – Even if your home is in a lower price range, home buyers today are looking for homes that look like homes they see on HGTV. Try and purchase a ‘suite’ of appliances (all from the same manufacturer) so all the knobs and handles match. If some of your appliances are newer, then replace the ones that are not. Stainless steel finish appliances are the most desirable finish among home buyers. Most appliance manufacturers have a lower priced line that comes in a stainless steel finish. To save some money, look for discontinued, floor models or ‘scratch and dent’ appliances that might have one or 2 small cosmetic flaws.
- Replace the knobs and handles on your kitchen and bathroom cabinets – This is the least expensive way to upgrade your kitchen and bathroom. Its like adding tasteful jewelry to a little black dress. Choose simple metal knobs in a finish that matches your appliances or sink faucet.
- Landscaping and Curb Appeal– Stand across the street from your home and snap a photo. What do you see? Do you see overgrown shrubs that block the front of the house or the windows? Do you see a weedy lawn that hasn’t seem fertilizer and a mower for a while? Do you see a bunch of junk laying around the yard or the dreaded ‘dead’ car in the driveway with weeds growing up underneath? Mow your lawn. Fertilize it an water it regularly. Plant some colorful flowers along the front wall and near the front door. The drive up to your home is the first time potential buyers will see it. Make sure what they see leaves a positive impression that makes them want to go inside.
- Get a Home Staging Consultation – An experienced professional home stager will be able to provide you with a road map for preparing your home for sale. Professional home stagers can look at a home through ‘buyers’ eyes’ and tell you exactly how to prepare your home for the market. With that home staging consultation in hand you can choose to do the work yourself, do part of the work and hire out the rest, or hire the home stager to complete everything. Most home stagers have a Rolodex full of painters, handymen, carpet installers, etc. to help you get your home in tip-top shape.
Offering a ‘carpet allowance’ or a ‘painting allowance’ won’t get your home sold. Buyers have a hard time imagining a house with worn or soiled carpet and peeling paint can be the kind of home they would pay good money for. They’ll reject your home and move on to the next home. There are plenty to choose from on the market right now. Make your home move in ready, and home buyers will be able to imagine themselves living there, making it their dream home.
Homes in better condition will sell faster. It is very simple. When you put your home on the market, you are entering it in a beauty contest. The best looking homes sell faster and for a better price.
*Will Upgrading a Home Help Sell It?* Copyright 2009-2012 Michelle Minch and Moving Mountains Design. All rights reserved.
Call Michelle Minch at Moving Mountains Design Home Staging to arrange for your Comprehensive Home Staging Consultation (626)441-8975. Or visit our Los Angeles home staging portfolio to see pictures of our recently completed projects.