The Top 5 Tips to Increase Home Value Now

Consumer Reports’ March edition has these 5 great tips for home buyers and sellers to improve their home equity by updating what buyers are looking for in a new home today. They also offer recommendations of the top appliances to choose from when investing in upgrades for the kitchen and bathroom.

The market supports these upgrades which are sure-fire methods to add value to your home.  Rather than putting in items that would not create a great return on investment, this may be the way to go to improve your equity right off the bat, and you would be able to enjoy the upgrades while you are living in the home.  At Buyers Real Estate Group we know it’s important to do updates on your home with an eye toward selling in the future.

Clean Up and Clear out

Nothing drives away potential buyers faster than clutter, grime, and the weird smells that accompany messy homes.  Especially when sellers attempt to cover up smells with overpowering scents like plug in air fresheners which irritate some potential buyers and create the idea that the scent is meant to cover up odors.  This may not cover up the smells, but only add to them, if you have any issues with mold, mildew or pet odors.  It’s important to eliminate the source of the odors.

Call in a professional to handle mold or mildew if you cannot scrub with water and detergent.  Be sure to wear gloves, goggles and an N95 respirator which can be purchased at some home centers.  If necessary invest in a home dehumidifier, the Danby DDR60A3GP for $250 was at the top of the Consumer Reports list of dehumidifiers

Get professional cleaners in for furnishings to remove that lingering pet odor and bathe pets regularly or send them away if possible while the home is on the market.  Watch out for strong food odors, not everyone likes to smell what you just cooked for dinner if it leaves a lingering odor.  Open the windows for some fresh air during warm weather months.  Baking bread or cookies is an old trick that works but can be overdone.

A suggestion from one listing broker is to imagine your boss is coming over for dinner with his spouse and realize your home should be at least that nice during an open house.  Buyers will have a hard time imagining themselves in your home if there is too much clutter or too many personalized items such as walls filled with family photos or other personal effects such as sports memorabilia or a plethora of items from a collection.

Some may need assistance if the home is severely cluttered or if sellers are downsizing and need help winnowing possessions.  This is where a professional organizer comes in which you can find on the directory of the National Association of Professional Organizers at   They can also help you organize a new residence.

Depending on the level of clutter it may take 1-3 months to ready a home for sale at a cost of $600-$2500 which is money well spent if it helps your property sell quickly.

Spruce up the Kitchen

In real estate it’s known that the kitchen, more than most any other room, sells the home. That doesn’t mean you need to spend tens of thousands remodeling before you list your home or when you first move in.  Buyers moving into a new home may want to also enjoy the update of a new kitchen with an eye toward resale in the 5-10 year mark so keeping it fresh and updated is important for everyone.  You can check out the Cost vs Value website,, to find out what your investment will pay off in equity in your specific market.

First, make any necessary repairs like leaky faucets, loose light fixtures or lingering stains and marks on countertops or appliances. Once you have everything in working order consider repainting the kitchen, updating the cabinet hardware and adding the new window treatments or curtains which could be a few hundred dollars in expense that would pay off when you sell your home.

If the kitchen is really outdated, using a budget of around $5000 might make more sense, especially if you will be in the home to use the upgrades.  Spending at least $2200 on new appliances for the kitchen could ad $2000-$6000 to your home’s asking price.  Effective upgrades are available from Kenmore for around $2200 for a new dishwasher, stove and refrigerator.  High performance options are available from LG costing around $3500 for all three appliances.

Replacing tired old floors with durable tile could really pay off, or, you could use a newer vinyl flooring which has become more cool and modern than past varieties.  This could leave you with around $1000 for the odds and ends such as new light fixtures, new faucet and any labor costs.

53% of real estate professionals surveyed said the kitchen is among the most important rooms of the house to have in good shape before selling.

Freshen up your Bathrooms

Buyers want to see a home is clean and well maintained, the bathrooms are a big indicator of whether the home maintenance has been kept up or not.  Simple things like caulking the tub or re-grouting the tile floor will make a big impact visually.  Installing new bathroom fixtures will eliminate the tired old rust stained appliances and  make the room appear brighter and more appealing.  American Standard Champion toilets top the list at Consumer Reports with a cost of $250.  The less expensive Glacier Bay models can be found at Home Depot for around $100.

Since bathrooms are typically smaller, upgrading flooring and countertops should not cost a fortune especially if you purchase a stone remnant for the counter top. Flooring can be vinyl or tile depending on your preference, and are affordable as well as hard wearing.

Coordinate your light fixture with the faucet and new mirror and you can create a polished impression without breaking the bank.  Updating the mirror and lighting can make such a huge impact as well pull the room together.

Beware of bouncing bathroom floors – an indicator of water damage making floors spongy over time, make sure to correct any problems before they create huge issues for you.

Paint the Rooms – Select colors with an eye toward future sale

Painting the rooms is a quick way to transform the home, before you put it on the market.  Even if you are a new homeowner transforming a home from the seller’s tastes to your own, start with kitchens and baths staying away from brightly colored paints unless you plan to repaint with a neutral shade when selling the home.

Most people are unable to envision what a home could like, which is why neutral shades of paint and professional home staging have become key in helping sellers garner their listing price.

When selling your home, you must allow the buyer to envision themselves living in the home which may be more difficult with strong paint colors. Lighter and more neutral shades allow buyers to focus on the home’s attributes as well as grays and beige colors.  Neutral colors work with most types of furnishing and make it easier for buyers to see themselves and their furniture in the space.

Choose a paint that does a great job of hiding old paint colors and leaves a fairly smooth surface.  Invest in a top quality product if you’re going to be in the home for awhile making it easier for you to keep clean and do touchups as needed.  If you need the help of a professional, check with your agent for recommendations.  Buyers Real Estate Group offers our buyers a list of great painters and professionals in the metro area.

Top rated paints are Behr Marquee Interior paint available at Home Depot or Valspar available at Lowe’s, with an effective and less expensive option in Ace Hardware’s Clark & Kensington.

Enhance the Curb Appeal of your Home’s Exterior

This is the first impression people have of you when visiting your home.  Basic maintenance is important by keeping the lawn mowed, trimming shrubs, applying new mulch to garden and flower beds  on a regular basis.  In keeping with fixing things indoors it’s important to ensure the exterior of the home is in good working order, make any minor repairs – such as cracked siding or tuck pointing brick – and doing any paint touch ups.  Power washing the exterior and repainting the front door can give the home an updated look.

If your roof is at the end of its useful life think about replacing it as that will be one of the questions any buyer will ask when you list your home, they will want to know the age of your roof.  Replacing roof shingles is less expensive than people think, you can get several bids and choose the type of shingles you prefer based on price or value.

Ensure you have no foundation issues, seal any cracks and bring in professional help if you notice cracks that indicate more difficult issues, the sooner you address them the more money you will save in the long run.

Add appropriate landscaping and flowers to enhance your home.  Often garden centers have inexpensive ways to provide you with options and plans to help you create a landscape that truly enhances your home and yard.  Ensure plants are free of neonicotonoids to protect polinators by researching garden centers and their plant offerings.  Start here with    Lowe’s has  recently banned neonicotonoids from their plant products.

Best and Worst Home Shows on TV from Consumer Reports March 2015 Issue

Top Picks are “Rehab Addict” with local celebrity Nicole Curtis, “Property Brothers” and “Ask This Old House” as examples of using sweat equity and making the necessary fixes to get a home into shape.

Worst shows for homeowners were “Million Dollar Listing” which can give real estate pros a bad name, “Flip or Flop” which is about flipping – one of the contributing factors to the last housing crisis, and “Kitchen Crashers” which usually has a crew working 24 hours a day for 3 days to actually make it happen – not exactly reality TV.

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