Want to get top dollar when you sell your home?
Listen to what professional appraisers say.
Their job is to determine the true market value of homes so they know what makes a property sell for the greatest amount and can tell you how to best ready your home for market now and later.
"A few years ago, houses were selling quickly with little effort. Now many homeowners actually have to make improvements before they can sell their home," said appraiser Mike Evans, a Fellow of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA).
In the term, cosmetic touch ups can help a home sell a faster. They include:
• Updating the paint and carpeting. A fresh coat of paint (preferably white) inside and out and new floor covering give the home the look and smell of "new." With the facelift treatment, gone are the wrinkles of cracking paint, the sags of aging wallpaper and the dark age spots of stains and spills. When in doubt, nothing works better than a fresh coat of white paint.
• Heighten the curb appeal. How you home looks upon approach is its first impression. The idea is to make that first impression one that invites visitors inside for a longer look. At least work on the front yard, the backyard can wait, if necessary. Improve the landscaping, fix cracks and stains in the driveway and remove extraneous clutter.
• Clean house. Cleaning house means mop, pail and elbow grease action, but also clearing clutter. Put stuff in storage if that's what it takes to rid your home and garage of that unorganized look. Less is more when it comes to the appearance of larger looking rooms.
If you won't sell your home for some time, but know that possibility looms, do the right improvement things, including:
• Adding square footage. Appraisers say an addition provides more returned value to your home than most other improvements. While that doesn't necessarily mean the buyer will pay the cost of the work in terms of a higher price, you likely will attract more buyers.
• Build out your garage. All that clutter you cleared? The new buyer will want to put his or her junk right back in there. Buyers also want a comfy room for their cars. Add, expand or improve your garage and you'll also increase the value of your home.
• Think before you sink money into a pool. You may love the idea of having a pool, but a young family with small kids may see it as a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen. Other buyers don't want the upkeep and costs that come with a pool. A pool will limit your buyers pool to only those who want a pool.
• When you buy, think location. The best locations sell faster. Proximity to good schools, jobs, shopping and attractions and away from crime, heavy traffic, business, commercial or industrial locations helps homes sell faster and for more. Buy a home in a good location. Then you'll have a home to sell in a good location. Location rules.
"It pays to plan to make home improvement decisions strategically if you may be selling a home in the next few years. Think in terms of increasing the value of your home and not just about design and decor," said Evans.