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Ask McEnearney: In a ‘seller’s market’ do I need to prepare my house for sale?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected].You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: In this “seller’s market” do I even need to…Paint my house? Replace the carpet? Fix the wood rot? Remodel the kitchen? Do anything??

Answer: The short answer is — Yes! However, it’s complicated, so the BIG question is — How much money do you want to make?

First, let’s talk about paint. The main reason to paint is to welcome the buyers into your home and create an impression of a well-cared for home that is light, bright and move-in ready.

I would say that this is the number one thing to do when putting your home on the market. It’s also easy and relatively inexpensive. With the right painter, you can get it done while still living in the home, with minimum disruption, and it will make a huge difference in how buyers will respond to your home. So yes, please do paint your home — both inside and out — where needed.

Do I need new carpet? Can’t we just shampoo it? 

From a buyers’ perspective old, worn, or stained carpet is a big no-no. The floors are one of the first things that a buyer notices when visiting your home.

Nobody wants to move in and start placing their own furniture in a home where the carpet needs replacing, or even cleaning. And when they think of what it may cost them to do it, it’s always double what it really costs — not an expense that they want to have after spending so much to buy the home. So yes, you should definitely think about replacing all of the older carpet before going on the market.

What about little spots of wood rot around the exterior of the home?

You definitely want to make a great first impression, so we always suggest you make sure that the front door and front trim look great. Any wood rot or deterioration on the rest of the home may go unnoticed… but, if your buyer does a home inspection, any good inspector will tell a buyer that wood rot equals water intrusion and it should be fixed. This one could be a “maybe” on the list of what to do to get ready to sell your home. However, I think it’s worth doing and shows that your home has been well-cared for.

Should I remodel my kitchen?

Kitchens are important, but a full remodel will be expensive and may not necessarily bring the immediate return that you are looking for. We suggest that the cabinets look good, and you may be able to accomplish that just by painting them!

If your appliances are older, it’s also worth replacing those that need it. Lastly, consider replacing your countertops if they are dated or dark. It’s probably not as expensive as you may think. Kitchens are big on the list of what buyers care about, and usually one of the first photos they look for.

The most important thing to do when selling your home is to make it appealing to the most buyers, and to eliminate as many “objections” as possible. Objections are things that a buyer perceives as issues or problems that will need to be addressed before they can call a home “their home”.

The longer their list of issues, the less likely they are to buy the home. As they add these things up in their head, they will definitely over-calculate the cost, and start thinking about what a pain it will be. Then they will either talk themselves out of making an offer or, if they do make an offer, they will lower the amount that they are willing to pay.

Think about it this way, if it seems annoying to you, it’s probably going to seem twice as annoying (or worse — scary!) to a buyer. On the other hand, if something seems like a quick and easy fix, why not just do it before listing?

While homes are selling quickly in this market, it’s important to remember that it can be exhausting for buyers. If a home search is stressful, they are going to want the easiest “contract to close” process possible, and they often don’t have the extra funds to get work done before they move in.

Making your home feel move-in ready is going to get the most people in the door, and with any luck, more competitive offers. Even in this market, some homes still stay on market longer, and ultimately sell for less than the list price. You just need to decide how much you want to make, and whether it’s worth it to forgo the work and risk less profit.

And, if you want to sell for top dollar, let’s minimize the objections! Your Realtor should be your first stop in figuring out what your home needs, and if you choose to do some work, they will help you with advice on how to get it done quickly, efficiently and for a reasonable price.

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. These days, first impressions in real estate happen long before a buyer ever enters your home. They will pour over the list of updates and the photos before deciding if your home is worth visiting. Showing them that you’ve put care and attention into listing your home, also tells them that you’ve cared for the home in the same way over the years.

There are reasons for both approaches and a great Realtor will be with you right from the beginning, helping you decide your right strategy, and what repairs and updates make the most sense for your home sale. My team has great contacts to get the work done quickly, as stress-free as possible and at a reasonable price. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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