Spring and Summer are the two busiest seasons of the real estate market when buyers are out in full force looking at homes and making offers. However, these are also the months when the most homes are on the market. If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market to take advantage of the increased number of buyers, you need it to stand out and shine. So, don’t wait until a few weeks beforehand to start preparing. Here are 6 winter projects to get your home ready to list in the spring.
Declutter and Clean
You’ve probably heard it once, and you’ll probably hear it again – declutter, declutter, declutter. Trash and donate anything you no longer use. Pack up and store everything you don’t plan on using while the home is listed. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in the home, so now is the time to depersonalize it and remove all the clutter that makes the rooms look smaller. While you’re cleaning out areas, wipe down everything. You’ll probably have to do another cleaning just before listing, but this will cut down on some of the work.
It can get mighty cold outside during the winter, which is why it’s a great time to get the interior jobs done. Painting is one of the cheapest projects with a good return on investment that you can complete. Conventional wisdom says to use neutral colors, like white or taupe; however, recent studies have shown that blue can have an increased return (a whole $5,000 more). Just remember that buyers are attracted to contrast. Navy blue paint will provide a higher return when it’s paired with white.
Dirty carpeting is a major turn-off for buyers. It can imply poor upkeep or a surplus of allergens, so it’s a good idea to get your carpets cleaned. You think that stain in the bedroom is a done deal? You may be surprised what a professional cleaning can do. No one will fault you for “living” in your home while you were there, but a simple deep clean can be enough to convince buyers that they aren’t moving into excess filth.
Upgrade Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures
The projects with the highest return on investment happen in the kitchen and bathroom, and you don’t have to do a complete remodel to influence buyers. Simply changing outdated fixtures can increase the appeal of your home. New faucets, new cabinet pulls, and matching towel bars are all relatively easy projects. Adding a trendy backsplash and replacing light fixtures are also a couple of projects that require a bit more knowledge, but can also be completed over a weekend.
Caulk and Fill
When choosing winter projects, it’s important to keep in mind that anyone purchasing your home with financing will need a home inspection. So, you want to make sure that certain projects are completed prior to listing. A home inspector will check the windows, doors, and trim to make sure that they’re secure and caulking is solid. Applying fresh caulk not only makes your home look good and well cared for, it’s one thing a home inspector will be able to mark off his or her list.
Also consider looking at other home features that may require filling, such as mortar, grout, and other areas in need of caulking. This can be around bath tubs, around exterior faucets, where the laundry hose vents, high tread areas, etc. Age, weather, and regular wear and tear can cause these areas to need maintenance. Of course, if you live in a snowy region or temperatures are freezing, exterior work may need to wait for the first warm day of spring.
Fix Leaks and Slow Drains
As homeowners, we sometimes put off repairing certain issues, because we don’t have time or money and we, frankly, can live with them. However, when buyers walk through your home, they will test out features, like faucets, to see if they work. If they see a faucet is leaking, they’ll start to wonder what else is wrong with the home and may place a lower offer than they would have otherwise.
A home inspector will also test all the faucets and drains in the house. If he sees a tub or sink draining slowly, he’ll note it in the inspection report, and you’ll likely be asked to repair it. Most buyers will ask for a licensed third-party contractor to make repairs. If you’re a handy person and capable of fixing the issue, you won’t be able to, which means you’ll be spending more money than if you’d done it yourself prior to listing.
Other areas to consider: loose floor boards, missing molding, loose kitchen cabinets, squeaky doors, torn screens, missing covers, cracked toilet seats, etc. These are all things that may draw unwanted attention.
Completing winter projects for your home will help relieve some of the stress of listing by allowing you to do a little bit here and there, instead of letting it all pile up until a few weeks before your home is to go on the market. It’s also the best way to make your home shine when the market inventory is at its peak. Want more tips? Check out our Seller Guide.
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