Realtor: keep home current to attract buyers


Special to the Recorder

The best advice I can offer any friend or client who is presenting their home for sale to the marketplace now or in the near future is this: Update your home!

Let me explain. When my husband and I built our most recent home in Sawgrass Country Club in 1991, traditional design was the norm. English Country, French Country and House Beautiful-inspired traditional homes were splashed across the pages of all the major design magazines. Prominent designers such as Sister Parish and Mario Buatta created beautiful rooms that we could admire and copy. The contemporary designers of the day inspired many with their sleek, stunning and clean design.

When we moved into our home, I absolutely loved my kitchen design with the blue and white wall paper, white Corian countertops and Small Bone English cabinets. But that was then and over the years I have updated my home to reflect the current trends in interior design. Minor renovations have been a consistent part of our home maintenance throughout the 25 years that we have lived in our home.

The original master bathroom was the first to go, followed by the second-floor bathrooms. In 2010, we refinished our hardwood floors, installed custom cabinetry in our second-floor family room and finally completed our kitchen makeover. What’s more, we did all this before I decided to become a real estate professional. I just knew it was an important part of staying current with my home.

Now that I work with buyers and sellers, I can honestly say that what my husband and I did has helped us keep pace with rising real estate prices and the buyer expectations that go with an updated home.

So how can homeowners ensure that their biggest investment – their home – remains up to date? Here are a few tips to give your home a design makeover or facelift:

De-clutter and depersonalize your home: Remove personal knick knacks, photos and other items. This will allow the buyer to see the rooms more clearly and not focus on your personal effects!

Paint your home inside and out: Today’s colors are cool and light. I recommend whites and off whites to attract the most buyers by allowing them to focus on the rooms they are viewing and not get distracted by a room’s color.

Get rid of your wall paper: It is no longer on a buyer’s list of must haves. If the wallpaper is in good condition, a good painter should be able to seal, patch and paint over existing wallpaper. And when getting a painting bid, I recommend getting three bids from friends.

Rethink your flooring: The buyer today wants clean, sophisticated flooring that is the same throughout the home. Whether it is tile, stone or hardwood floors, having the same product throughout creates the clean, consistent look today’s buyer wants. If it is not in your budget, then have your current floors professionally cleaned and get several bids on replacing flooring. When you are selling your home, you can share the bids you got with the prospective buyer. They can see that if they make an offer, the cost to replace the flooring in many cases is much better that what they speculated.

Update kitchen and baths: If your cabinets are in great condition but dated, consider painting your cabinets white and install new countertops, sinks and faucets. For the bathrooms, replace your old toilet and update tile floors with new tile installed over the old.

Perk up landscaping: Consider removing large, overgrown and sometimes worn out shrubs with new landscaping.

Stage your home: According to one study, 84 percent of buyers view homes online before visiting them in person. When you decide to sell your home, remember that it is the visual presentation that can catapult your listing to the top views and clicks. Buying a home is largely an emotional decision. What better way to tap into someone’s emotions than to let them visually experience what their life would be like with them in the home before they buy it? Select décor pieces and furniture to properly stage your home or simply “enhance” your home by complementing the existing décor.

Invest in professional photos: When you have updated your home and are ready to list and present it to the marketplace, professional photos will help sell your house faster and in many cases closer to the listing price! Remember that old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Janet Westling is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty.