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The preparation of your home prior to listing is very important and will give you an edge over your competition.
Your objective is to appeal to the most buyers possible, which will increase traffic and the odds of getting your home under contract in a reasonable amount of time for a good price.
Upgrades can certainly increase your chances of selling your home, but one needs to be careful as to which upgrades will be the most cost effective and increase your chances of selling the home.
By taking the time to do a few cosmetic updates, you'll be appealing to buyers' emotions ("look at this great kitchen"!) instead of competing on price alone.
Granite countertops are what most of today's buyers are looking for and it's one of easiest and most dramatic things you can do to give your home an updated feel. Replacing brass hardware with brushed nickel and outdated light fixtures with more modern ones can "freshen up" your home.
In this market, if your house lacks some of the basic upgrades that buyers desire, they'll simply move on to the next home for sale or wander off to new construction.
I also have found that no matter how much I might like the wallpaper my sellers have installed, it dates a home and should be taken down.
Sorry. Buyers don't want to have to deal with removing it and an allowance for its removal also won't cut it.
Time and time again, I've had buyers take a home off of their showing list, just because of the wallpaper they saw in a picture on line. Hire someone to remove it, and paint those walls in a neutral color to get your house sold.
If updates are a financial burden to you, approach your home in this manner: Focus on how it looks versus the product. If the Corian goes well with the cabinets, backsplash, etc, and is in good shape, I would be tempted to leave it.
Getting a second opinion from us is free, just call and we'll be glad to see if replacement is a worthy way to go in your neighborhood. We should be able to tell you what buyers are looking for and where you'll get the biggest bang for your buck.
Focus on other cosmetics. Make sure your kitchen is functional: functional—make sure every appliance works (no leaky faucets); operational: working counter space; space creativity involves positioning of tables, chairs, shelving and other floor accessories to invite getting-togetherness during food preparation. It doesn’t have to be “modern”; shiny and nostalgic may often be more appealing.
It doesn’t have to be spacious—just an appearance of such. Your invitational kitchen will get you a home price which is greater than a house price by doing simple cosmetics.
And then there's always the basics: shine windows, mirrors and light fixtures, open curtains for more light, remove excess furniture (to showcase the view and to make the place look bigger as well as to open up the traffic flow amongst rooms). Re-grout (cheap but very effective), eliminate dramatic colors that make rooms look smaller with neutral paint. Caulk.
Repairs made should be repairs that make a difference.
In terms of adding value, major maintenance items such as replacing the roof, HVAC, and exterior painting will do little to increase your profit at the end of the day, but they will help the home sell faster.
Be objective about your home. Don't take buyer comments as personal. Remember you are selling your house not your home.
De-clutter, de-personalize, and do minor repairs.