How can I Increase my Home Value? As an Illinois licensed broker, specializing in such a broad and diverse region as the Greater Chicago land area, I get this question asked several times a week at least. Sellers, buyers and consumers in general are looking to get educated on the things they can do to make the most of their investments in these times of economic uncertainty. Just yesterday reports were released confirming foreclosures surging 3% to an all time record high of 95,364 for the month of August 2010 according to realtytrac. However, on a positive note, foreclosure activity in the 10 largest Metropolitan areas dropped on a year over year basis for the second month in a row.
That being said, the question remains “How can I increase my homes value? Raising the value of your home is the key to building equity and getting the most out of your investment. Here are the Top 5 ways to get more cash!
1. Curb appeal. So often overlooked but so vital to the sale, curb appeal is the first impression a potential buyer has of your home. If you are lacking here, chances are the buyer will not even consider what the rest of the property has to offer unless your buyer happens to be an investor in which case the chances of you getting top dollar is not likely anyways.
You can increase curb appeal by keeping your lawn manicured and keeping the hedges trimmed. Make sure the exterior, or any trim, including doors has fresh paint. Get your home power washed if needed. Replace or clean any broken or cracked windows. Make sure the concrete along your walkways and sidewalks are repaired if needed. Replace or add light fixtures to exterior for security (buyers love motion detected security lights).
2. Kitchens and bathrooms. Assuming you’ve taken care of your exterior and have massive curb appeal, you have somehow managed to keep the buyer interested enough to see the interior. If you have prepared properly, your kitchen should definitely impress. If you have not, this will probably be the end of the showing. Studies show that buyers place the most emphasis on kitchens and bathrooms. Neglecting either will only result in having your home on the market for months, if not longer or taking a very hefty hit on all if any offers you may receive.
First off, remove clutter. Second, remove clutter. Hide your appliances or put them away during showings. Organize your cabinets, drawers and pantry. Buyers will open and examine these spaces to determine if their belongings will fit adequately. Lighting fixtures should be modern and appealing or recently replaced. If you are including appliances in the price of your home, make sure to clean them thoroughly and discard any old or outdated food items. If you are adding fresh paint look at neutral colors that are subtle but warm and maybe add a contrasting color to the trim or borders. Repair or replace any cracked tiles or flooring issues you may have in the kitchen. Oh yea, if you have carpet in your bathroom, please remove it and replace with tile, enough said.
3. Systems and roofing. When was the last time you had the roof checked out? Does it have any repairs that are needed? If so, get it repaired or replaced asap. The last thing a buyer wants is to have a bad roof over their heads. How is the heating and cooling system working? Make sure to have an inspection done to prevent any surprise problems from appearing. Make sure you replace or repair any lighting fixtures or electrical outlets that are faulty. Check the sump pump and hot water heater. It’s always a good idea to have a backup battery for sump pumps in case of power failure. Make sure the garage door opener works properly. A thorough walk through of your homes systems is crucial to avoid any unwanted surprises. Once you are confident, offer a home warranty to ease the mind of potential buyers.
4. De-personalize. If you have bright pink paint as a focal color in your home, chances are it’s not going to appeal to a vast majority of buyers. Remove books and photos from shelves and walls. That collection of Elvis Presleys greatest hits in your spare bedroom should be packed away or stored elsewhere. When a buyer enters your home, they are trying to imagine what their items and belongings will look like in the house, not yours. So the more you remove clutter the easier this becomes for them. Try not to view this as your home, but as a house or an investment. This simple shift in mindset can pay off big dividends in the end. Increasing your homes value is the goal here so keep your eye on the prize. Buyers buy homes, sellers sell houses.
5. Get rid of smells. Although you may not notice them, potential buyers will. If you have a cat or dog or any pet for that matter, or if you tend to cook foods that are spicy or pungent in nature, these odors become infused in your homes carpet, furniture and anything else that can hold an odor. If you are a smoker you may want to consider smoking outside during the marketing of your house. Many deals have been killed because of cigarette smoke and could have been easily avoided or rectified. Painting can help with odors, but you may want to consider replacing carpet and or draperies. A can of air freshener can go a long way as well.
Lastly, if you are in the Northern Illinois or Chicago real estate market area, hiring me to sell your property may be the best tip of all. Whether you are buying a luxury Gold coast estate or an open spaced Chicago loft, or simply relocating to Chicago, not only will you be getting my years of expertise, but also you will get some great advice that’s not included in this article. After all, I have to keep some trade secrets on how to sell your home fast and get maximum value. I hope you’ve enjoyed the article and good luck on the road to increasing your homes value!
Keith Harris, “The Property Geek” Greenhouse Realty Group Licensed Illinois broker.