Sellers: Don't overdo it on Home Improvements

Know which projects are worth the cost, effort

Question:  Allison, we are getting ready to put our Silverthorne, CO home on the market and would like to ask what suggestions you have for fix it up?

Answer: Ahhhh, the million dollar question!  I always say that “it’s a price war AND a beauty contest, and you have to win both!”  Homeowners who are thinking about selling this year should be aware of what today's buyers are looking for in a home. It will affect what you should do to get your home ready for sale, and how you should price it.

According to Dianne Hymer of Inman News, a survey by the National Association of Realtors in 2011 found that buyers favor walkable neighborhoods that are close to shops, restaurants and local businesses over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation.

According to the survey, 77 percent of the respondents said they would look for pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Improvement in public transportation was favored over building new roads.

Most buyers (80 percent) still prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it doesn't require a longer commute. Although space is important to most buyers, 59 percent said they would accept a smaller home if it cut 20 minutes off the commute time.

Does this mean your chances of selling are slim if you don't have a high Walk Score?
No, but proximity to a popular commercial area usually brings a higher price.

Proper pricing is the key factor affecting the salability of your home in today's market. Make sure you're comparing apples to apples when you evaluate the probable selling price of your home.

The home-sale business is all about location. If you live in a neighborhood where you have to drive to get to work, school or recreation, you can't expect to sell for the same price as a comparable home that's in a desirable, walkable location.

You can't change the location of your home, but you can appeal to today's buyers who are typically looking for a home that is in good condition that they can move right into without doing any major work.

A common refrain heard from sellers is that there's no point in painting or changing worn carpet -- buyers will surely want to do something different. In some cases, this may be so, but many buyers don't have extra cash to pay for extensive home improvements. They may ultimately change the color scheme, but don't make them worry about making the house livable when they buy.

It's a good idea to consult with your real estate agent before you make fix-up improvements. Review your list of preparation-for-sale projects and get your agent's feedback before starting any work.

Sometimes, sellers think projects need to be done that are really not essential in successfully marketing the home. For instance, your yard may be in poor condition, but this doesn't mean that you should have it re-landscaped. This is the kind of improvement you'd do for yourself if you were planning to stay in the house for years. A cosmetic redo will usually suffice.

Get your agent's or stager's input on colors, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., so that you can ensure a positive response to your efforts. Also, watch your costs. You don't need to do a top-of-the-line paint job or use the most expensive granite for your countertops in order to sell. In fact, it will eat into your proceeds from the sale.

Stick to cost-effective, tasteful improvements for maximum appeal at a reasonable cost.



For answers to your real estate questions, call Allison at 970-468-6800. Email - [email protected]. Her philosophy is simple, whether buying or selling, she understands that the most important real estate transaction is yours.  Want to know the value of your Summit County property? Visit  

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