It’s quite common for people thinking about selling their house to start making improvements in hopes of a higher selling price. This can be a great idea. However, there are some things to think through before making a lot of changes to your house.
- Find out what works in YOUR neighborhood. If you are surrounded by manufactured housing and crumbling farm houses in a rural area, don’t fix your house up to upscale suburban standards. You won’t get a return on your money!
- Stick with neutrals. We recently looked at a house with brand-new tile. Half was pale blue, half was a mix of pink and gray. That’s not neutral. It will only appeal to a small subset of their potential buyers. Also, navy blue paint? Not neutral AND hard to cover up.
- Look at other renovations and do what they do. Spend time on Pinterest or Houzz. The house in the photo would have much better resale value if, instead of “button fixtures” all over the living area they’d put in can lights. Pricing is about the same.
- Have your renovations done by someone who knows what they are doing. This means you check references and look at the past work of people you hire. You’d like the electricity to actually work. You’d like the light fixtures going in the same direction (see below).
- Also, think hard about how long and how costly your home improvements are. If they take months and cost a lot, you may very well come out ahead by selling your house below retail to someone like us, because you won’t be paying the holding costs (mortgage, utilities, and insurance) or the renovation costs. Besides, if you make the wrong decisions, you might actually make your house harder to sell, so don’t risk it unless you know what you’re doing!
- This is very important: don’t do work that’s not permitted (see the comment for another story). You could be asked to remove un-permitted additions before you sell, or at least pay, and pay big. We know of someone who had to give the city money and pay ten years of back taxes before they could sell a house with changes that weren’t permitted. It totaled over $30,000! This ate up all of their profit on the sale. Not good. So, get permits.
There are a LOT more things to consider than what I just shared. Here are a couple of good lists to start with: