Summertime is peak moving time, especially in a military town like San Diego. That means that many local homeowners will be selling their houses, condos and townhouses. Are you one of them? Would you like to sell your place for more money, possibly in less time with fewer hassles?
Yes, the market is super-hot right now for sellers, but if you can get yourself a higher price, and an easier appraisal and inspection process, these tips could be helpful as you get ready to put your home on the market.
âSan Diego is a very competitive market, and buyers are paying special attention to any potential upgrades they think the home needs,â says Carlos Gutierrez, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage La Jolla. âIf the kitchen hasnât been updated in a while, potential buyers will start subtracting from the list price of the home, and that could really impact a sellerâs bottom line. By making the upgrades before putting the home on the market, you can add a lot of value and possibly get buyers in a bidding war.â
Here are some of the tips Gutierrez recommends for kitchens:
â˘ Buyers are looking for light and bright in a kitchen. Make sure you have fresh paint in a neutral color.
â˘ Changing out cabinet fronts or even the hardware makes a big impact for little money.
â˘ Make sure the grout is clean and doesnât need to be redone.
â˘ Lighting is often overlooked by sellers, but not by buyers. Adding LED lighting, recessed lights or nice pendant lights will make a big impact.
â˘ If you canât afford new appliances, make sure your current appliances are clean.
Each of these upgrades can be achieved without a lengthy, expensive full remodel, youâll note. âSmall changes like these can bring you up to 5 percent when you sell,â Gutierrez adds. If you have a larger budget, ânew appliances are always a great option because buyers notice them right away,â the agent says.
Eric Hellon, a Rancho Bernardo-based real estate expert with Purplebricks, says, âBuyers are looking for stainless steel appliances and stone countertops in the kitchen, so theyâve become the standard expectation. Having stone instead of tile can add as much as 25 percent of the retail cost of the stone to your kitchen. For example, if you spend $4,000 to install the stone, you can expect an increase in value of about $5,000.â Two small details Hellon suggests are:
â˘ De-clutter the counter tops (hiding small appliances, removing personal items, etc.).
â˘ Add handles/knobs to cabinets for easy access.
âMaking these small changes add perceived value, and it could be the difference in the buyer making an offer or moving on to the next home,â he advises.
Both Hellon and Gutierrez caution against negative upgrades â those âimprovementsâ that can hurt your homeâs marketability.
âBacksplashes are very personal, so the wrong colors, decoration or material can really turn a buyer off and discourage them from making an offer,â warns Hellon. âIf a backsplash is too personalized, the buyer will look at it as a construction project and may either lower their initial offer or avoid it all together.â
Gutierrez agrees. Multicolored appliances, backsplashes and even countertops can negatively impact your sale, he says; buyers want light, bright, neutral and move-in ready.
âIf your goal is to sell in the near future, improvements should meet the generic wants of the marketplace,â says Daniel Arms of Escondido-based Arms Appraisal. An appraisal that supports your sales price is essential if your buyers are applying for a mortgage. While location is the biggest factor influencing your homeâs value and size comes next, Arms says, improvements count, too.
âFrom the buyerâs perspective, right now I would have to say that kitchens are still the number one selling point in homes, followed by flooring and bathrooms,â says Arms. âWhen homes are updated, they command the highest price for the neighborhood.â
What might you want to do here? As with other parts of your home, Arms recommends handling any deferred maintenance and health or safety issues before putting your home on the market. Those can include broken tiles, a leaking tub spout or toilet and other negatives.
âIn the master bath, buyers are looking for that spa feeling â a place to relax after a long day,â Gutierrez says. Mildew, chipped or peeling surfaces, noisy vent fans and leaks definitely detract from that impression.
âClean and neutral tiles and clean grout are essential,â he adds. âAdding new faucets and lighting will create a big impact. Master bath projects donât bring as big a return as a kitchen, but they can add 5 to 9 percent onto the price of the home.â
âA master bath needs to have a retreat feel,â says Hellon. Adding a new waterfall shower head can help give the buyer that spa experience, he notes. âAlso, replacing the finishes, like faucets and standard shower heads, are small details that will be the difference in a home buyerâs mind. One thing you have to avoid in the master bathroom is carpet. Having carpet could affect the buyerâs interest in the home,â he cautions.
Real estate professionals put a premium on curb appeal and so should you.
âThe biggest upgrade you can add to your front yard is lighting,â declares Gutierrez. âLight up your walkways, up-light your trees and add porch lights. Solar path lights are inexpensive and make a big impact. Lighting makes your home attractive to buyers and helps in marketing your home with great twilight photos. Here are a few other upgrades the Coldwell Banker agent suggests, with potential 5 to 10 percent value increases:
â˘ Power wash your home to remove any dirt and grime.
â˘ Add greenery to give it a warm feeling.
â˘ If you want to add a pop of color, consider a coat of paint in a bright color on the front door. âI love red, but blue and green are good choices as well,â says Gutierrez.
Adding a beautiful custom door adds tremendous impact to the curb appeal of your home, Hellon says, but he advises against making any offbeat paint choices on your homeâs exterior. âLook around the neighborhood and ask a contractor which colors are in trend and which are not.â
He adds: âHaving a low-maintenance yard can make a big difference in San Diego. Changing your landscaping can be relatively inexpensive and make a big difference in the perceived value.â Gutierrez warns against taking on any full landscaping projects with hardscaping before a sale; you wonât get a high return, he says. He also suggests keeping up your homeâs paint, foundations and yard maintenance for optimal returns.
When getting ready to put your house on the market, you might be tempted to make major changes to get your best price, but this isnât necessarily your best course of action. âBe wary of salespeople telling you how much new windows, pool or solar will add to your home,â advises appraiser Arms. Neighborhoods drive home values, and improvements need to be neighborhood-friendly, he says.
Hellon adds: âUpgrades are only âupgradesâ when done correctly. Flawed DIY projects will decrease the value of your home faster than not having any upgrades at all. So, if you are thinking of making upgrades before selling your home, make sure they are done correctly and look flawless.â
Gold is a San Diego-based, independent kitchen and bath designer and the author of âNew Kitchen Ideas That Workâ and the âNew Bathroom Idea Book.â Her website is jgkitchens.com.