An annual survey of real estate agents says 99% of them recommend their clients spiff up their homes before they put them on the market. But did you know that cleaning and decluttering alone can add more than $2,000 to a home’s sale price? What other tried-and-true prep tips do agents recommend? Here are the top five for 2012:
Clean and declutter – Make sure your home is spic and span inside and out. Organize closets and cabinets. Pack away personal items like family photos and other clutter.
Lighten and brighten – Clean windows inside and out. Replace or remove old curtains. Remove any items that block natural light. Make sure all lighting fixtures work.
Repair electrical and plumbing – Plumbing and electrical systems must meet code requirements. Update leaky or outdated fixtures. Repair leaks and remove mildew stains.
Landscaping – Mulch flower beds and around trees. Clean up leaves, branches and other debris. Add hanging baskets and potted plants. Keep lawns cut and edged.
Staging – Rearrange or remove furniture to make rooms appear larger. Place fresh flowers in rooms. Clear off kitchen countertops.
Even if a homeowner can’t trace return on investment to a specific action, real estate agent Joanne Curtain said the effort will almost always pay off. “When a homeowner comes out of the gate with their best foot forward, they are putting themselves in the best position to get the most for their home,” she said.
Joanne believes a home’s appearance is so important that she has all her homes professionally staged before they’re listed. Professional staging usually includes all the projects above as well as other cosmetic improvements to highlight a home’s best features. Joanne reimburses the sellers for the costs of staging when the home sells.
“Every home is different, but a staged home always sells faster,” she explained. “The sooner a home goes under contract, the closer to the asking price that seller will receive.”