Prep the right way for a wide range of house hunters

Heather Morse

Oh, the holidays. A time of family, traditions and togetherness. Or if you’re like me, a time of deep cleaning and junk-hiding to give my home the illusion of Pinterest perfection for the relatives. And while most homes will never look as tidy as they do before the in-laws pull up, there is one other time to pay such close attention to your home’s appearance—when you go to sell it.

Cleaning for listing photos and showings is a lot like preparing for the mother of all mother in-laws. Are your well-loved carpets stained? Are your walls covered in scuffs and finger smudges? Walk through your house with a shrewd eye. If it’s something you think persnickety Aunt Edna would comment on, chances are a house hunter would pick up on it too. Taking the time to address these areas can make a big difference, especially in listing photos since you’re relying on those to draw in potential buyers. And while scrubbing cabinet fronts, appliances and baseboards is time and labor intensive it’ll be worth it to make a wonderful first impression.

De-cluttering is another worthwhile step you can take. Open your closet and cupboard doors. If you can barely squeeze one more coat in that hall closet, it’ll be worth the time and effort to haul it out and get organized. Your basement and attic are two more catch-all locations that will be on display. And pay extra attention to the areas surrounding your heating unit. Perspective buyers will want to take a good look at utility appliances, and those appliances will need to be accessible for any inspections down the line.

Let’s go beyond the scrub brush though. When it comes to appealing to a wide variety of people, neutrality is key. Bright paint colors and bold décor may be a major part of your personal style, but it can be distracting or even deterring for potential buyers. You may find repainting, replacing worn or dated floors or making some basic repairs to be worth the investment. Just remember to keep it neutral and use products that are worth the money. For example, granite countertops sound like an impressive feature and honestly are, but if your counter tops are chipped or dated you might want to seriously consider replacing them. Don’t feel like you have to use granite; there are some affordable options that will make the world of difference. Try not to go too wild with spending though—just enough to freshen up. Studies show you get about $0.69 to the dollar back on kitchen renovations, but something as simple as a new countertop could make the world of difference for your sale.

Speaking of investments to boost resale value and selling speed, be sure you’re spending wisely. If your house needs new electrical, plumbing or insulation, then walls, floors and ceilings will need to be removed, which would waste any money spent on repainting. For houses that are going to require more than cosmetic updates, start by consulting with your realtor to be sure that any major repairs you’re considering will positively affect the listing price and therefore be worth the investment. Should you go that route, it’s especially important to use an insured and licensed professional in all specialty areas. While most anyone can wield a paint brush, roofing, plumbing, heating, etc. are not casual DIY projects and will merit a higher asking price only if done correctly by a licensed pro. In fact if done incorrectly, the work could cost you more in the long run.

On a side note, one problem buyers have had in the past with Charlotte properties is our lack of high-speed internet. This has been completely out of our control and a hazard of many buyers looking for houses that will allow them to work from home. Champlain Valley Telecom, however, is bringing high speed to our area, which should add serious appeal to homes that take advantage of this. While I don’t see it adding any dollar value to the properties, it certainly will make Charlotte more attractive to buyers who have a need for high speed.

It takes a lot of time and work to make your house look its best, but when it comes to creating a beautiful and inviting home that will appeal to a wide range of house hunters you can’t go wrong with keeping it as clean and neutral as possible. While certain investments can be worth it in the end, just be safe and smart with your money and know when to call in the pros. Hopefully, these tips will help your home draw in offers like relatives to pumpkin pie … and, let’s face it, the boozy eggnog.

Safe travels and happy holidays!

Heather Morse of Charlotte is a Greentree Real Estate agent. For more information email her.