"It's always the little things that make a big difference when you're showing your home."
(PRWEB) July 25, 2011
RE/MAX agents in the northern Illinois real estate market say that homeowners can take several steps to increase their home's appeal both inside and out without spending a fortune. In fact, homeowners can breathe new life into their homes and increase its appeal by spending $100 or less.
"You'd be surprised at what a difference you can make without spending a lot of money," said Tom Humpal, broker/owner of RE/MAX Property Source in Rockford. "It's always the little things that make a big difference when you're showing your home."
Homeowners who want their residences to sell quickly need to make sure that their single-family homes and condominiums are priced right and show well. Their homes need to be top-of-mind with buyers no matter how many residences were seen that day.
Buyers look for homes that are clean, bright, roomy and warm. Here are five, easy ways homeowners can give their residences these attributes without spending much money.
1. The wonders of paint: You might be surprised at the difference that a fresh coat of paint can make. For $100, homeowners won't be able to paint all the rooms in their homes, but they will be able to spot paint. And that can turn a formerly drab room into one with plenty of style.
Rachel Hausman, a sales associate with RE/MAX Experts in Buffalo Grove, recommends that homeowners purchase a 5-gallon bucket of white paint. They can then use this paint to color the trim in their living rooms, kitchens, dens and hallways. The white trim makes a home's walls pop more vividly, Hausman said.
Hausman does warn homeowners against choosing colors such as grey or blue. These are colder colors, which sometimes work against a home’s appeal.
"Warmer colors tend to make homes show better," Hausman said. "A nice warm beige or ivory can make a home seem warm and comfortable. Buyers react well to such colors."
2. First impressions matter: Laura Heinberg, broker/owner of RE/MAX Connections II in Marengo, said that $100 can help a home make a strong first impression on buyers. The sellers just have to spend that money on the home's front door.
A front door with peeling or chipped paint can instantly create a negative impression, Heinberg said. Buyers who see a fading front door might wonder what other features the home's owner is neglecting.
"So many people enter their homes through their garages. They never use the front door," Heinberg said. "I remember one time I came to a house for a showing and they had a pumpkin sitting right outside their front door. Unfortunately, it was Christmas time."
It costs far less than $100 for homeowners to apply a fresh coat of paint to their front doors. And, it costs nothing to make sure that front entrances are swept free of old leaves and debris.
Kristi Gunther, sales associate at RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago, goes even further. She works closely with a professional stager who recommends that clients polish their front door's hardware, paint the home's threshhold and buy new house numbers, porch lights and mailboxes.
With a bit of smart shopping, doing all this can cost $100 or less.
3. Curb appeal: Many buyers today pre-screen the homes that might interest them. They'll look them up on the Web and then spend an afternoon driving past them, scratching homes off their list if they don't like what they see.
What causes potential buyers to eliminate homes from their lists? More often than not, lawns that haven’t been mowed, overgrown bushes and a general lack of curb appeal.
Tom Skora, broker/owner of RE/MAX Experience in Sycamore, says that he always advises his clients to put at least a little money into their homes' front yards. Such an investment can result in a big payoff, he said.
"Take a look at your home's front exterior," Skora said. "Pull up to your own house. Then ask yourself, 'Would you want to go into that house?' If you see overgrown trees, bushes that aren't trimmed and a generally unkempt appearance, why would someone else want to go into that house? The good news is that yard work is inexpensive."
By planting flowers and shrubs, adding flower pots and baskets to front porches and mowing the lawn, homeowners can create a front yard that entices buyers. In today's market, that's an important advantage.
4. Bring in the cleaning pros: Nothing turns off potential buyers more quickly, and thoroughly, then do dirty carpets, dusty ceiling fan blades, murky windows and sticky counter tops. Buyers who see a home that isn't even clean for its showing tend to question the commitment that homeowners have made to maintaining their residences.
This is why Mike Mondello, managing broker of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, recommends that his clients hire a professional cleaning service -- easily affordable for $100 or less -- to give their homes a thorough scrubbing before they place them on the market.
"When someone touring your house looks through a dirty window, that's not good," Mondello said. "Sellers often forget about things like that. Buyers don't."
Cleaning service professionals will tend to the areas of a home that owners often forget as they prepare their homes for showing, Mondello said.
"Homeowners so often are too busy to go out and clean their windows. They don't think about it," Mondello said. "They don't think about dusting their windows' horizontal blinds, either. You have no idea how many homes I've been in where you don't want to get anywhere near their blinds because they're so dirty."
5. Focus on the first room: Gunther recommends that homeowners pay particularly close attention to the first room that potential buyers will see when they tour a house. For many homes, this will be a living room.
Gunther also encourages owners to add new pillows to couches and wrap love seats and chairs in up-to-date fabrics.
T. Haberle, owner of RE/MAX 1st Choice in Ottawa, advises homeowners to focus on the small details in the rooms buyers will be spending the most time. Haeberle tells clients to remove as much clutter as possible -- something that can be done for free or for a small storage fee -- to make rooms look open, large and airy. He also says that homeowners should make sure that all the light bulbs in their rooms are working and turned on to create bright and comfortable spaces.
If living room, kitchen or bedroom walls have dents or holes in them? Haeberle recommends that homeowners invest the small amount of money and time it takes to patch those dings.
RE/MAX agents agree that it's important in today's housing market for owners to spend the money necessary to give their homes the best odds of selling quickly at the price they want.
"People may say they don't want to put money into their homes in order to sell them," Hausman said. "But, you can either drop your asking price to get buyers to walk in the front door or spend a little money to make sure your home shows as nicely as possible and draws buyers in."