Tips for getting the most money for your home

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat

When preparing to sell a house, many property owners are left with the question of how to get the most for their homes and the highest return on their investment. While first instinct may say to invest in improvements, which ones will improve the value and end price of a home on the market?

Doing things to increase the curb side appeal can easily increase the value of a home.

Instead of going all out and replacing a bathroom, Realtor Amanda Phillips with Remax Signature Properties said there are several small improvements that can have a big impact with light investment.

“You would want your house to be in its best condition when you are about to put it up for sale so you can get the most money for it,” Phillips said, referring to property taxes, “but it’s a fine line to walk because the appraisal district is going to take notice.”

Increase curb appeal

One of the first improvements that should be made is making sure your home is presentable from the outside. By presenting a nice exterior and first impression, you can coax more potential buyers into the home.

“External pictures draw people into homes,” Phillips said. “Simple things you can do to that have the best return on investment are things like freshening up your front door. You can paint it or replace it if it’s in terrible condition.”

In addition to improving the literal entryway into the home, Phillips said sprucing up landscaping is also a good first step in maximizing the value on the market. Another recommendation is to have the exterior of the home, driveways and sidewalks power washed.

“You don’t realize how dirty your home is until you start washing your home, especially if you have trees,” she said. “We recently had our home washed and they did the driveways and sidewalks and it looks like brand new concrete.”

Refresh vs. Replace

Rather than investing in a full-scale remodel, prospective home owners can look to refresh existing features rather than fully replacing them.

“You don’t have to invest $20,000 in your rehab project,” Phillips said. “You can be very specific in your refreshing and it can go a long way.”

This tip can come in handy for homes that have dated kitchens or bathrooms, as they are often key features.

“Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes,” she said. “That is where you get the biggest return on investment.”

Rather than replacing kitchen cabinetry, consider painting or staining existing cabinets and replacing the hardware to make them good as new. Counter tops can also be replaced without the need of removing the existing cabinets.

“You can replace the vanity top and leave the existing vanity cabinets and it will still look like a new bathroom,” Phillips said.

How you present can make all the difference

Some improvements may involve no investment. Another key aspect of getting the most value is how you present the property. When presenting the home to prospective buyers, it’s important to have it full cleaned and ready to be seen. This could involve removing and packing away some items so they aren’t in the way or distracting.

“I always tell people that you’re moving, so you might as well start packing,” Phillips said.

In other cases, it’s important to have the right furniture in a room so prospective home owners can have a clear view of how the room will look when furnished.

“Staging a room goes a long way in allowing people to see the potential of how a room can be used,” Phillips said. “There are actually homes that look smaller completely empty. There are some people who cannot visualize a room without any furniture in it.”

Energy efficiency

Updating appliances can also add to the curbside appeal of a home.

Another commonly requested feature in homes is energy efficiency, but Phillips recommended looking at easy ways to improve efficiency. Rather than going off the grid, she recommended tips like making sure doorways, windows and other places where energy can escape are fully insulated.

“There is a fine line you need to walk between installing solar panels and pitching your home as energy efficient,” she said.

When considering selling your home, Phillips said home sellers could consider hiring an inspector to catch things that may come up during negotiations. From there, the homeowner can decide which potential issues they wish to address and which can be left to the homebuyer.

“People do pay attention to that with regard to the age of windows and the age of air conditioning,” she said.