Brace yourself, home sellers. Spring — prime time for house shopping — is just seven weeks away. Now's the time to make your home sparkle more — and show better — than the listing across the street. Fix the flaws. Spruce the place up with a fresh coat of paint or shower your landscape with love. And make sure you've eliminated potential deal killers, like a leaky roof or stained and smelly rugs.
An estimated 5.6 million existing homes will be sold in 2020, up about 5 percent from last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median home price is seen rising 3.6 percent. In December 2019, the median sales price was $274,500, up 7.8 percent from 2018, according to NAR.
"Home sellers are often blind to their home's flaws,” says Judith Dutton, deputy editor at realtor.com.
"But buyers see every problem, and may even blow them out of proportion, thinking, ‘Man if this door is sticky or the paint job shabby, what else might be wrong with the house that I'm not seeing?’ If home sellers have any hope of appealing to these buyers, they need to see their house objectively, through a buyer's eyes.”
Looking to downsize as retirement nears? Eyeing a new home that's just steps to the beach or near your grandkids? Well, there are a few home fixes you should consider doing if you want to boost your odds of a quick sale at an attractive price. Must-do improvements and renovations fall into three categories: boosting curb appeal; eliminating “deal killers,” such as nightmare home inspections; updating tired kitchens and bathrooms affordably.
1. Breathe new life into landscaping
The flaw: Grass that isn't green, dead or overgrown shrubs, missing mulch and a front yard with more weeds than flowers
The fix: Hire a landscaper to spruce up the yard, says Lynn Pineda, a realtor with eXp Realty in Boca Raton, Florida. “Make sure at a minimum your property is neatly manicured, the grass is cut, the bushes are trimmed and the garden has fresh mulch,” she says. “If the property looks appealing on the outside, it makes the buyer think, ‘I want to check it out, I bet it's really pretty inside.' ”
The cost: Full-service lawn care costs only$145, according to a Zillow and Thumbtack report.
2. Add stone veneer to your home's exterior
The flaw: Front exterior lacks a visually appealing focal point, hurting its curb appeal.
The fix: Install a manufactured “stone veneer” to give your house an eye-catching, updated design appeal.
The cost: Adding this popular exterior design feature costs an average of $9,357, according to Remodeling magazine's “2020 Cost vs. Value Report.” And you'll get nearly a dollar-for-dollar return on your investment (95.6 percent), the best return on investment of the top 22 nationwide renovation projects the magazine analyzed.
3. Apply a fresh coat of paint (but pick the right color!)
The flaw: Bubbling or peeling exterior paint, moisture stains or fading or unappealing color that makes a buyer go “eek"
The fix: Pay a professional painter to give your home a fresh coat of paint. “But think about the colors you use,” advises Amada Pendleton, Zillow's lifestyle expert. The reason: Some colors will give you more bang for your buck. Simply painting the front door black or charcoal gray boosted the average sale price of a home by more than $6,000, according to data from Zillow's 2018 Paint Color Analysis. But homes painted yellow sold for about $3,400 less, on average, Zillow found.