2012 opens as a strong buyer’s market so home sellers must be on their toes to market their homes with maximum appeal. Buyers are extremely fickle and will walk away from homes that don’t look well maintained.  However, many of the homes I’ve sold recently have moved quickly when the repairs and maintenance needed were taken care of.

Generally, you can take 3 steps to ensure your home is presented as well as possible; Identify the items you know need to be repaired.  If you sink drips, roof leaks or rugs are worn go ahead and complete the repair or update.  If you are thinking about selling in a few years, you can do these items now, and enjoy using them. Ask a professional.  Have your realtor, decorator or trusted handyman take a look.  Items that you may not realize need updating may quickly catch the eye of a professional with experience in the business.  If they recommend a repair and it is within your budget – get it done. 

It’s very likely that if it catches attention at first glance it will catch the attention of the buyer or their home inspector and you will have to do the work.  The advantage of doing it in advance is attracting more buyers and eliminating an objection or obstacle to closing. Hire a stager or organizer.  Many realtors include a professional stager as part of the listing commission.  So you will have no additional cost and will get focused professional advice.  A stager is trained to see the home from a buyer’s perspective. 

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They may recommend removing furniture or personal items and can prioritize what changes will have the most impact. Among the most common repairs and enhancements yielding immediate buyer appeal include:

·         Paint inside and outside in neutral colors

·         Steam clean or replace carpets

·         Polish or replace hardwood floors

·         Clean or re-grout kitchen and bathrooms

·         Replace light fixtures

·         Change light bulbs throughout and replace wall-switch covers

·         Repair dripping faucets

·         Fix sticking doors

·         Repair broken fencing

Home sellers wanting to do more should consider the findings of Remodeling magazine’s 2010-’11 Cost vs. Value Report, released in December 2010. The survey used input from REALTORS in 80 cities to rank home remodeling projects according to those that bring the greatest cost recovered at sale. Many of the top projects focus on exterior replacements, as replacements are generally less expensive than other types of projects and they add all-important curb appeal – essential for today’s competitive market or any other.

The Top Five projects in the Cost vs. Value Report include:

No. 1 – Entry door replacement (steel)

No. 2 – Garage door replacement (four-section door, reuse existing motorized opener)

No. 3 – Siding replacement (fiber-cement siding)

No. 4 – Kitchen remodel (minor: new cabinet doors, drawers and hardware, plus new energy-efficient appliances, flooring, counters, sink and faucet)

No. 5 – Deck addition (wood)

When the dust clears and projects are complete, be sure that you and your real estate professional document your repairs and enhancements, and share the report with prospective buyers. Walk prospects through the enhancements and include their costs. A home in good condition demonstrates pride of ownership. Taking the time to make enhancements helps ensure your home is presented in its best-possible light, primed for sale.              

Barbara Lewis can be reached at (908) (477-1010).

Prudential New Jersey Properties is an independently owned and operated member of BRER Affiliates Inc. Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.