About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for Silicon Valley home sellers about preparing the house or condo for sale: Preparing Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell and Return on Investment. In that piece, my hope was to convey to sellers that strategic improvements to their real estate prior to sale will result in a good return on investment. Too often, sellers don’t want to do enough prep work so that they can maximize their sale price.
Sometimes, though, I meet property owners with a bent toward the other extreme. They decide to do a whole ton of renovating (almost as if it were a house which they are flipping or one they want to be like brand new) in order to get more money from the sale of the house. What they plan to do may be overspending or over improving. It may be going too far such that the return on investment is actually lessened rather than improved.
Most of the time, your best investment will be in doing small, strategic repairs, renovating or improving. You get a good return – even great – on things like paint, floor coverings and touching up the front landscaping. Often even fresh sod can bring a good return because an attractive front yard will get home buyers to look inside, whereas really poor curb appeal may cause them to turn away. Counter tops, light fixtures, and maybe new interior doors can wow a buyer and give you a good bang for your buck. Totally remodeling a kitchen (with new cabinets) or bathrooms may recoup you less than what you’re putting into it. Hire a great Realtor and then work with her or him to determine which improvements will net you the most.
Think of the pre sale home improvement like this: it’s lipstick and rouge, not cosmetic surgery. Go too far and you not only won’t net the most from the sale, but you could actually lose money too. “Balance in all things” applies to preparing your home to sell too. Not too little, not too much.