Many homeowners who are planning on selling their home this year have the same question: “How can I take advantage of the seller’s market and get the best-possible value for my home?” While it’s true that many real estate markets in the United States have limited inventory that puts sellers in a good position, it’s also true that buyers are more discerning than ever. This means that you need to put in work to make your home as appealing to buyers as possible.
In this article, we’ll review what buyers are looking for (and looking at) when considering your home. We’ll also explore some of the ways you can make your home more appealing to those buyers, which means more in-person visits and more offers at or above your asking price.
Make your home more appealing to buyers
If you’re planning on selling your home this year, you still have time to make upgrades to your home and get the best-possible value out of it when you sell. Here’s where to start:
Focus on the essentials
You should start by addressing any potential disqualification factors. You can’t account for every preference, but there are some general deal breakers for most buyers:
- Aging Cooling / Heating Systems: Most buyers will ask about the age of the air conditioner or furnace—or find out during their home inspection. An AC or heating system on death’s door is a major deal breaker for many buyers, since it means they’ll have immediate costs as soon as they move in. In most cases and most markets, the buyer will simply walk away from the home. In other scenarios, they might ask that you lower the sale price or pay for new HVAC install as a condition of the sale.
- Roof Issues: Few things make a house a home like the roof. It’s pretty essential. If you’re having roof issues—leaks, major tile or shingle problems, or damaged gutters—you’ll want to get those problems resolved with the best residential roofer in your area before you list. A home inspection that reveals roofing troubles is as good a reason as any for a homeowner to back out. If you do get a new roof installed on an older home, that’s also a major selling point.
What does “curb appeal” mean now, anyway?
Traditional curb appeal
In the past, curb appeal meant—literally—the first view of your home from the curb of the road as the prospective buyer and their realtor rolled up. That first impression was limited to the exterior of your home facing the street: a nicely painted exterior, freshly trimmed landscaping, and a cleaned-up picket fence.
One of the many ways that the internet has changed the way people buy homes is that “curb appeal” is no longer limited to just this first impression from the outside. As potential buyers scroll through listing after listing, your home needs to make a fast and powerful first impression if they’re going to click on the listing—or, even better, talk to their realtor about seeing your home.
Digital curb appeal
Digital curb appeal takes your entire home into account. Buyers are looking through your interior and exterior photos and essential home data: year built, age of the air conditioner, type of water heater, and much more. In a hot market with a large inventory of homes for sale, buyers are looking for reasons to rule yours out and limit their total number of choices. From the kitchen being too small to the yard being overgrown, your home may only be in consideration for seconds before the buyer is on to the next listing.
Boosting your value
So, what can you do about it? The answer is that you need to make your home more appealing to the largest number of buyers. By boosting your digital curb appeal, you’ll get more clicks on your home’s listing, more people visiting your home, and—eventually—more offers.
Make strategic, high-ROI upgrades
Most homeowners who are planning on listing their home do not want to sink thousands into a major remodel. In most cases, you do not need to tear your home apart and rebuild it from the ground-up to sell it.
However, depending on your market and what your neighborhood has to offer (i.e., the comps used for your home and what your home is up against in online listings), you may want to consider making upgrades. Here’s where to focus your efforts:
- Kitchen Remodel: If you have a kitchen that saw its best days in the 1980s, you might need to refresh it to make your home appealing to buyers. Most buyers today prioritize having a modern kitchen and are willing to pay for it, which is reflected in the fact that minor kitchen remodels have some of the best return-on-investment of any pre-listing project.
- Bathroom Remodel: What goes for the kitchen also is true for the bathroom. Start with the master bathroom. Again: you don’t have to tear everything out and start over. But you should consider modernizing the shower and putting in something like a new vanity or sink.
- Small Upgrades: You might be surprised at how far small changes—such as adding lighting to your kitchen or living room—can increase your home’s value. Not every change you make to your home needs to be an expensive project.
Get more out of your home
If you’re planning on selling your home in 2019, we recommend you speak with a local design professional to get advice—individualized to your home, your neighborhood, and your market—on which upgrades to make prior to listing.