New Horizons Investments, Inc.
Squeezing every last dollar out of your Property Sale
The “secret” to making top dollar when you sell your property isn’t really a secret at all—I’ve been “revealing” it to my clients for years. But because it involves a lot of discipline and elbow grease, many people decide to cut corners. And that’s when the price you could command begins to drop.
Do not be one of those people. During my years in real estate, I’ve seen countless examples where well-considered, well-placed investments of time and a little money have dramatically improved the sales price and increased the speed in which a property has sold.
My report will show you how even minor property improvements can substantially improve the value and marketability of your property. In today’s economy, there are no guarantees that you will recoup what you spend to improve the value of your property—all the more reason it’s important to pick the right investments.
But even when you don’t recoup all the money you invest to upgrade, many improvements can give you an important edge over other properties on the market. And the failure to make some improvements can leave you at a distinct disadvantage as buyers compare your property with the competition. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen time and again.
Spend time before you spend a dime
Unless your property is in mint condition or you’re selling it as a “fixer-upper,” there’s probably a long list of repair or remodeling projects to consider. These can range from relatively simple jobs, such as painting an office, to more complex maintained projects.
In considering any property improvement project, you need to ask yourself a
couple of questions: Why are you doing it? Is it work that really needs to be?
Done—a paint job or replacing a leaky roof? Or is it an amenity you’d like that
you think might appeal to a potential buyer—Will it add value to your property, or have no impact at all? Or will it make your property more difficult to sell?
Some investments—like painting and yard maintance—involve relatively little cash outlay and yet return many times your cost. Other improvements that you think add value have no significant impact.
Planning is everything
If there’s one piece of advice I would give every property owner regardless of the circumstances, it’s this: Plan first, then do. Careful planning on your part is a prerequisite to undertaking any property improvement project, major or minor. In fact, the quickest way a “minor” project balloons into a major one is when you haven’t thought things through in advance. I’ve seen more people get in over their heads because they didn’t think things through before starting work.
Whether you hire someone or do the work yourself, expect to spend more
time and money than you initially anticipate. But by choosing well, you can
ensure that the work you do adds the greatest value at the lowest cost.
Be methodical. Try breaking your list into “exterior” and “interior”
projects, then break it down further by room or outside area. Decide which
projects you’re going to take on yourself and which will require outside help, and
then do a rough cost estimate for each job.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you do the work yourself, you’ll probably recoup more than what you pay out for some improvements. You can probably save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent by removing hired labor from the equation. On the other hand, you might pay more for work done by professionals, but the improvements can speed up the sale of your property.
The quickest way a “minor”
Whether you should tackle the work yourself or hire professionals depends on several things. Do you have the time? Can your friends or relatives help you, or are you going to do it all yourself? How skilled are you and your helpers in the task at hand?
You may decide to split the job—the contractor does the major work and you do the finishing. Doing at least some of the work yourself can still save you money. Whatever you do, the key lies in doing it well. If that means hiring a professional, do it. A poorly done job can do you more harm than good.
Now let’s take a look at some projects you might consider, beginning with some simple steps that can reap huge dividends.
Catch ’em at the curb
“Curb appeal” isn’t just catchy real estate jargon. It recognizes the fact that many buyers form their first, and often strongest, opinions before they step out of the car. Remember, buying a property is first and foremost an emotional commitment, especially for first-time buyers. You may have a long list of logical reasons your property is a good catch, but a buyer is reacting emotionally to what he or she is seeing.
Knowing this, you can use a buyer’s emotions to your advantage. First, take
a good, hard look at the first impression your property makes. What do people
see? If it’s flaking paint and an unkempt yard areas, they may be seeing a property that
needs a lot of work.
Here are some investments in your property’s exterior that I’ve found through firsthand experience can pay huge dividends:
It should come as no surprise that surveys show that painting the exterior of your property results in the greatest return on time and money invested when compared to other improvements done for selling purposes.
An investment of $1,000-$2,000 can mean adding $3,000-$4,000 to your asking price. And if you can do a good job yourself, your profit is even greater.
Even if your property doesn’t need the full treatment, check the trim around windows and doorways for cracking or peeling, and do any necessary touch-up work.
Another key first impression is made by the grounds of your property. If you can improve the attractiveness of your landscape without spending a lot of money, you can add a good 3 to 6 percent to the value of your property.
Minimally, you should prune existing trees, shrubs and bushes, clean out dead plants and weeds from beds and replace them if needed. Because landscaping can become a high-maintenance headache if not done carefully, choose hardy perennials that require minimal care.
If you have a damaged lawn, you may need to take additional steps. The easiest step is to repair damaged sections with new sod. While seeding is cheaper, it won’t produce grass overnight. A good patch job can make for a great quick fix.
Other lawn problems—dead areas due to lack of sunlight or a tree’s root system—can be solved by planting ground cover or creating additional flowerbeds.
Like a new paint job, a relatively inexpensive upgrade of existing landscaping can bring far greater returns than what you spend. But don’t do anything that would be deemed excessive by neighborhood standards. The idea is to make your property more attractive, not stand out as an oddity.
The Driveway and Parking
Because it’s big, dark, and usually takes up a significant portion of the property in front of your property, a driveway or parking area can affect a buyer’s first impressions. If yours is in good condition, make sure you keep it swept and neatly edged where it meets the lawn. If yours is cracked, buckled or oil-stained, fix it. Patching concrete can be a problem because matching color is difficult; tar and asphalt are relatively easy to match. Whatever you do, be careful you don’t create a bigger problem through quick-fix solutions—use high-quality patching materials and sealers.
Decks and Patios
These can be popular additions that add value, especially with smaller properties, because they add service space. But make sure that whatever you do is consistent with your property’s architectural style and integrates well with your outdoor areas.
Don’t neglect the minor details
It’s often the little things that really stand out. If your mailbox is in poor shape, replace it. Varnish or repaint your door if it needs it. Spruce up the entryway with new light fixtures, potted plants and other decorative touches. With the exception of adding a deck or patio, most of the steps I’ve touched on here can be accomplished in relatively little time and without a lot of money. But the difference in the impression your property makes on prospective buyers will be dramatic.
Ironically, some of the big-budget items you might consider spending your
money on will do little to enhance the marketability of your property. However, everyone expects a good roof, and they’re not going to pay extra for it. And a roof in poor condition can kill a deal quickly.
Making the best second impression
As with the exterior, I’ve found that there are plenty of interior tricks to punch the right emotional buttons in prospective buyers.
In all rooms, certain minimum standards should be met:
I• Make sure all plumbing and electrical systems are in good working order
• Repair cracks in the wall
• Paint— a fresh coat of paint throughout will more than pay for itself
• Remove wallpaper
• Replace missing molding
• Replace cracked or broken window glass
• Make sure window and door hardware match
• Install new floor coverings
• Install new light fixtures
• Make sure switch and outlet plates match from room to room
• Upgrade insulation in drafty or hot rooms
As is the case outside, a coat of paint can literally make the difference between a sale and no sale. Be sure to stick to neutral colors—white or off-white. It tends to make everything look new, clean and bright.
Be sure to paint everything: If a prospective buyer opens a door and sees dirty walls or shelves, you’ve just wasted the advantage you had gained by painting in the first place.
Like paint, new carpeting should also be in a neutral shade. This helps buyers visualize their own furniture in your office.
Taken individually, each of the above improvements may not seem like
much. But you’ll find that the cumulative effect of fixing even relatively
minor problems will be dramatic. A crack in the wall, a carpet stain or a light
switch that doesn’t work can send a negative signal that results in the loss of a
buyer. I’ve seen it happen.
As you can see, squeezing every last dollar out of your property sale can be a fairly involved process. But when you consider the end result—a quicker sale and top dollar for your efforts—I think you’ll find that a few well-chosen property improvements are worth both the time and money.
Please feel free to call me if you would like further explanation on any of these topics, or if you have any real estate questions at all. I simply see my mission as striving to be as helpful as I possibly can to area homeowners. I hope this special report provides the information you need to be an informed property seller.