By ESTER VENOUZIOU
LOCALSHOPS1 FOUNDER & LIVE LOCAL! EDITOR
Getting ready to put your home on the market? A little sprucing up can go a long way in getting you not only a higher sales price, but also a faster sale.
We asked three local real estate agents for tips on getting a home ready to sell, but staying under a $5,000 budget. Doable? Certainly!
Five-thousand dollars can go a long way, says Caroline York, owner of Caroline York Real Estate Co. in St. Petersburg. But before spending even a dime, “look carefully at your house and invest sweat equity,” she says. “Once you have removed unnecessary items that may now hide the features of the house you originally enjoyed, you can see where you need to spend the money.”
There are many free or inexpensive ways to make a big impact: rearranging furniture, depersonalizing the home, adding better lighting, freshening up the paint colors.
“A few friends and $200 of paint can make a big difference,” says York. “If you’ve lived in the house for more than five years, it probably could use a new paint job anyway.”
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A good place to start is with your front door, says Lucinda Johnston, who owns Sunshine City Associates in St. Petersburg. “A coat of paint and a pretty wreath will make a big difference. Put away shoes and umbrellas and add a potted plant to the doorway. Think of the front door as your home’s smile. Brighten it up.”
A good deep cleaning by a professional cleaning company also is a must right before the home goes on the market.
“The home should smell fresh,” says Realtor Brandi Gabbard, broker associate with Smith and Associates in St. Petersburg. “If there are carpets or dirty upholstery, clean them.”
“Make sure woodwork, windows, lighting fixtures and appliances are so clean they sparkle,” says York. “People have an aversion to buying someone else’s dirt and grime. Make sure the corners of the tub are not filled with soap residue and anything that is supposed to shine does.”
It’s also important to look at any issues that may come up with an inspection, such as roof issues, wood rot or broken appliances,” Gabbard says. “Anything that could be caught during an inspection and cause a buyer to cancel should be taken care of right away.”
After that, she says, focus on the “wow” factor. “If a buyer sees five homes in a day, you want to be the one that stands out.”
If your home is vacant, consider at least a little bit of staging. “One client staged just her fireplace, with logs inside and candles on the mantle, and the island in her kitchen with a bottle of wine and pretty wine glasses,” Johnston says. “Every buyer that looked at that home remembered those two features.”
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But what if you look around the house, and it’s in such pitiful condition that your budget for improvements wouldn’t make a difference in the selling price?
“Make it spotless and sell it ‘as is,’ ” York says, adding that of course every case is different, and buyers should consult with a professional real estate agent.
Curb appeal matters: Cut the lawn, trim the landscaping, add fresh mulch and pressure-wash everything. Make sure the exterior reflects what you have done inside or potential buyers
may never schedule a viewing,” Gabbard says.
Kitchens & bathroom sell: Look at creative and inexpensive ways to update cabinets, counters and floorings, such as painting, waxing or adding new hardware. Use the money you saved to splurge on a new sink or faucet, York says.
Talk with your agent: Ask for candid feedback and suggestions, Johnston says. “Realtors see
hundreds of houses a year and they know what to do to make yours desirable to buyers.”
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