Real Estate Update October 2013
by Nathan Hitchcock
Oct 03, 2013 | 395 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I recently submitted my input to the National Association of Realtors for their annual Cost vs. Value Report, which explores the cost/benefit analysis of performing various improvements to your home. New windows, kitchen and bath remodels, landscaping improvements, and more are evaluated for what will net homeowners the biggest return from a resale perspective.

The unfortunate reality, according to the 2012-2013 report, is that even the top performing projects will net only 80-85% of your investment when it comes time to sell your home. In other words, assuming you don’t have a connection to below-market labor and materials, it doesn’t pay for the average homeowner to perform significant improvements to their home right before selling it.

Nonetheless, when sitting down with a homeowner to establish an action plan for selling a home, the discussion always includes what steps should be taken to help the home show in its best light. And while remodeling the kitchen or revamping the landscaping will only financially benefit the local economy, there are some things you can do that will net you a 100% or greater return on your money.

Netting a profit isn’t always the goal. Even if you just break even on the investment, shortening your time on market and decreasing the likelihood of a cancelled purchase agreement in escrow are significantly appreciable benefits that are not always easy to put a price tag on.

With that in mind, here are my top three must-do projects when preparing your home for sale:

1. A deep, professional interior cleaning.

2. A thorough, professional landscape thinning and cleanup.

3. Professional interior and exterior painting.

Professional Interior Cleaning: I cannot underestimate the importance of a home looking, smelling, and most importantly, feeling fresh and clean. When a buyer tours a home, they envision themselves showering and brushing their teeth in the bathroom and preparing meals and washing their dishes in the kitchen. It is vital that they feel good during this daydream. Any sense of “yuck” will only serve to keep them emotionally detached from the home. A good, professional deep cleaning will likely cost $300 to $600. Please resist the urge to do it yourself. In over ten years of selling homes, I have only seen two homeowners get it as clean as the pros.

Professional Landscape Cleanup: Aside from the obvious benefits that come from the increased visual appeal of neatly manicured yards, they also are less likely to be seen as high maintenance. Anyone who has toiled in a large, unruly yard is not likely to be enthusiastic about inheriting someone else’s weekly labor of love. A neat and tidy yard, free of overgrown bushes and weed-filled flowerbeds, looks far easier to maintain and will be more appealing.

Professional Painting: There is simply no more cost-effective or efficient way to improve the appearance and appeal of a home than fresh paint. The effects are multiplied if your home has an outdated or off-putting color scheme. Depending on the current condition, you may be able to get away with a simple touch-up job. But regardless of the scope, do not skimp. Again, hiring a professional is vitally important; poorly applied paint can end up looking worse than old paint.

There are a few more beneficial projects I could describe here, such as replacing or repairing worn, damaged, or stained flooring, or repairing pest and rot damage. If you’d like to learn more about readying your home to sell, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email or give me a call.

Nathan Hitchcock can be reached at or (925) 825-1100.

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