By: Victor Normand
Published: October 2014
Last month I encouraged home sellers to think outside of the box and list their properties in the fall instead of waiting until the spring. I charted statistics that showed higher final sale prices and fewer days on market in certain towns for homes sold last year in the fall in contrast to home that sold in the spring. Some of you took my advice; some did not or could not because their homes were not prepared for listing which is a common condition.
If your home doesn’t look like new inside and out, which is probably the case since the median age of a home sold in New England is 40 years, there are things to be done that will help you sell at the best price in the shortest amount of time. The typical list includes kitchens with granite counter tops, stainless appliances, updated baths, re-finished hardwood floors and a fresh coat of paint inside and out. You might want to do more, but not every “improvement” will add value to your home.
Even if it will be years before you will be selling your house, be aware that not all home improvements are created equal in the eyes of the buyer. If you have always wanted a swimming pool, have one built for your own enjoyment knowing that today’s homebuyers in this part of the country don’t always want the care and maintenance of one particularly with such a short season. Some neighborhood developments have a pool membership included or perhaps you get to know your neighbor who welcomes people over on hot days.
Wallpaper is another improvement with almost universal negative appeal because of its very personal nature. Another mostly problematic improvement are solar panels. While good for the earth and generally viewed positively, their appeal to home buyers is limited, particularly so for solar panels that are leased and not owned outright. According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 90% of those surveyed said that solar panels installed on a home were not important enough to encourage a sale.
Home buyers identified exhaust fans in bathrooms and exterior lighting as either essential, must have or desirable by 90% of respondents in a report prepared by the National Association of Home Builders in May of last year. Another low cost improvement that home buyers now have in their homes and expect in the next home purchase are programmable thermostats.
Outdoor living is big so money spent on improving or adding decks and patios tends to payoff well. On the other hand, unconventional features like wine cellars, hot tubs, and media centers can actually take away value from a home because they may not be wanted and removing will be at a cost. Even adding land to your parcel may not be desirable but rather seen as just more property to be taxed and more land to care for. The middle of the road is where you want to be when contemplating upgrades and enhancements to your property.
So, if home improvements with the intent to appeal to home buyers in the near future are under consideration, moderation is good advice. Upgrading a kitchen with high end appliances and finishes may make the rest of your house look not so nice. Keeping home improvements consistent with the character of the home is advised. It is possible to over upgrade a property. You do not want to be the owner of a $350,000 home in a $250,000 neighborhood.
It is good to plan ahead and take the advice of a Resident Expertsm in this changing housing market.