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Will I get my money back? - To remodel or not to remodel

Many sellers prior to listing their property ask, "Should I replace my appliances, cabinets, and or countertops?  Should I replace my carpet or flooring?  Should I paint?"  The real question is whether or not these efforts and investments will result in a faster sale or in obtaining a higher sale price for the home.  A flat answer of yes or no is impossible. 

There are so many variables involved in a buyers decision to make an offer and what that offer will be.  One of the key factors is the availability and condition of "competing" properties.  In a market where supply exceeds demand, the answer to many of the questions above is, "yes!"  If you, the seller, think the work may need to be done, it probably does.  You, most often, don't have the most critical eye.  After all, chances are you've lived with the condition of the property for some time and have become accustomed to it.  The reverse is true of a buyer approaching your property for the first time, especially when that buyer may be looking at many properties in the same price range.  That buyer will have a far more critical eye.

So, what work really should be done?  How much investment is appropriate?  Again, there isn't a clear cut answer.  The position I represent here reflects my recent impression of buyers' reactions when looking at "competing" properties. 

  1. Pay attention to "curb appeal" - The buyer's first reaction and interest in your property begins as they approach the outside.  Remove debris from your yard and/or driveway.  Keep the lawn mowed and keep the gardens weeded.  Flowers can make a great first impression.  These efforts are relatively inexpensive and will always payoff.
  2. Ensure your front door and exterior finish are in good condition - The exterior condition of your home is the buyer's first indication of your attention to general home maintenance.  This should be one of the first places to invest your "fix up" dollars and is likely to have the greatest impact on the sale price of your home.
  3. Remove clutter and clean your home - Leave your counters, shelves and furniture tops as clean and as clear as possible.   Leave as much space as is physically possible between pieces of furniture.  Remove some furniture if you have to.  You will need to expend this effort when vacating your home anyway and these efforts will make your home appear larger and more spacious.  In addition, buyers will focus on the space and not your personal items.  This is a "no brainer."  Do it now!
  4. Color makes an immediate impression - Does your home's color pallet reflect what was popular when it was installed and is that color pallet still popular today?  The answer may be yes if you selected relatively neutral tones that seem to stand the test of time.  However, many times colors are selected that are indicative of the year (or decade) they were chosen.  Do you remember, for example the popularity of "Harvest Gold" in the early seventies, or mauve in the eighties?  If your home sports fad colors that are no longer common, it implies to a buyer that perhaps you haven't maintained less visible operational items like plumbing, electrical systems, or heating systems in your home in many years as well.  Paint is a relatively inexpensive item in the spectrum of updating.  If you're not sure if your home needs a change, take some time and visit New Construction model homes or Design Centers and compare your color scheme with what is shown currently.  How does your home look now?
  5. Kitchen and bath modernization - This is one of the toughest "nuts" to swallow because of the expense involved.  However, these are some of the most noticed areas of the home and the easiest to compare with other properties.  I was recently told by a buyer who was browsing through pictures of condos for sale on the internet that one property looked much more updated than the other.  The truth of the matter is that both properties were refurbished with new appliances, furniture, window treatments, and carpet at approximately the same time.  The difference was that one had replaced their mid 80s vintage formica cabinets with wood and the other had not.  The result was that the buyer bought the unit with the updated cabinets.  The trouble with this update is its expense and no one can assure you that you will recoup your investment.  What is likely is given a scenario where a buyer is on the "fence" between more than one property, the one that made the updates is likely to get the first offer.

So, does remodeling pay off?  In many cases, yes, especially in a competitive market.  You may not recoup your entire investment but your property is more likely to sell than the seller who didn't make the changes.

For information on what's available on the real estate market in Killington, Vermont visit Prestige Real Estate of Killington's website and continue to watch this blog for further buyer and seller tips.


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