Experts provide tips to add value and help homes sell faster

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 24, 2017


METRO DETROIT — Preparing to sell a home can often seem like a daunting task. Many might balk at the thought. Where to even begin?

Local experts offered several easy and inexpensive tips to get the ball rolling that also could help homeowners sell their homes faster and at a higher price.

Corie Conroy, president of First Impression Home Staging, said the first things she notices as she walks up to a home are the walkways and landscaping, and whether or not they are well-maintained.

“One thing people often overlook is the first impression of the front door. Is the paint peeling or needs to be touched up? Is the door hardware looking tarnished?” she said. “These fixes are easy, relatively inexpensive and make a huge difference.”

Conroy said it takes less than seven seconds for potential homebuyers to decide whether they would even consider buying a home. And 90 percent of them look online for multiple listing photos before they even make the trip to see the home in person, she said.

“If they don’t like what they see, they swipe to the next (listing),” she said.

She said other easy fixes include toning down “opinionated” paint colors in the main rooms of your home.

“You may be able to get away with it in the basement, but in the dining or living rooms, you’re going to want to neutralize those areas and match the décor so the potential buyer can at least move their furniture in there, even if they want to update the paint later,” Conroy said.

Millennials, she said, like to make sure homes have updated bathrooms and kitchens, since they often spend much of their savings on the down payment and don’t have extra income to redo outdated or grimy rooms.

Because she has a background in real estate, Conroy said she often pulls accounts of houses sold in the area to find out what common denominators they share and suggests to sellers what they should or should not update.

“The No. 1 biggest to-do for preparing a house to sell is decluttering,” she said. “That is overlooked so much and can be a huge distraction when somebody walks into a house and sees personal pictures, kids’ toys, dog accessories, magazines on the counter, and personal bills with names and addresses.”

She said sellers should have a system in place to stow those items away quickly so that, in the case of a last-minute showing, the house is ready to go.

“A staged home can sell for 8-10 percent higher than unstaged, and 75 percent faster,” Conroy said. 

Mathew Belanger, a Realtor with Keller Williams, said sellers can increase value and sell more quickly by changing the perception of the home, such as painting, resealing or replacing the glass in windows.

“Windows are one of the most expensive (things to replace) — more expensive than a roof,” he said. “It can cost $250 to restore four windows to change the perception that all the windows need to be replaced.”

He added that builder-grade, old or poorly installed carpets can also be fixed quickly by hiring a professional to come out and restretch them, as long as they’re not stained or worn out.

“Some people do that every couple of years,” he said. “You can just get the bumps and wrinkles out, and it’s a small fraction of the cost of getting the carpet replaced.”

He also advised removing old, outdated wallpaper before selling a home, since it can be labor-intensive and most buyers would rather not have to do it themselves.

“Wallpaper is coming back a little bit, so it’s fine if you have a nice, modern wallpaper,” Belanger said. “But it’s normally a good idea to eliminate (outdated) borders or walls in kitchens. It’s not costly.”

Another easy fix, he said, is to get rid of heavy or outdated curtains and replace them with something more modern and inexpensive.

“Make sure the house is clean and smells good,” he said. “A lot of people hear on TV they’re supposed to take family pictures down, but that’s not something I would do, especially if it leaves a bunch of holes. It’s all right for a home to look homey and lived in, but I would remove ceramic animals and other knickknacks.”