Brett King Builder-Contractor Inc.

Six inexpensive ways to prep an older home for sale

Some home buyers are wary of older homes because they think they will require too much work or that everything will be outdated.

Homeowners who want to sell an older residence may worry that they need to spend thousands on improvements to catch the eyes of buyers. But with competition for homes heated in many markets, sellers may find they can make some minor improvements to attract a buyer.

“Older homes have character and often provide more square footage for a lower price than comparable new construction houses, but they also face the stigma of impending repairs,” Matt Lavinder, CEO of New Again Houses in Charlottesville, said in an email. “When it comes time to sell your current home, there are a few simple things that homeowners can do to help maximize the sales price of the property.”

Lavinder suggests these key improvements to help a prospective buyer focus on the upside of your home.

On the exterior of the home, Lavinder recommends:

1. Power wash your driveways, deck, siding and other surfaces. Be careful with siding in particular to avoid damage to your specific exterior product, but in general a thorough washing will clear years off the exterior and provide a much-needed facelift.

2. Paint the front door and change the shutters. Pick a complementary color for the door, and it will help “pop” when someone drives up. Shutters are a relatively minimal expense but can modernize the feel of the house.

3. Improve your landscape. We cannot overstate this one. Curb appeal is everything for the first impression. Mow the yard, rake the leaves, trim the hedges and put some fresh mulch down.

On the interior of the home, Lavinder recommends:

4. Pay for professional staging. We have sold hundreds of remodeled houses, and I can tell you from firsthand experience what a difference a high-quality staging will make. We focus on the living room, kitchen and dining areas. Most cities have a few local companies that will stage a property for a nominal fee. Ask your agent or brokerage for suggestions.

5. Get a professional home inspection done before listing your home for sale. Many market contracts in our area fall apart because of the results of a buyer’s home inspection. First-time home buyers can be especially nervous. Getting a home inspection completed before listing is a little bit like taking your final exam in advance of the actual test day. It gives you the opportunity to fix any particularly troublesome issues or make simple repairs so buyers can focus on the positives your home has to offer.

6. Paint. What surface cannot be improved with a little paint? Touching up the trim and putting a fresh coat on the walls brightens up the rooms. Stick with neutral contemporary colors, and let the future homeowners personalize the living spaces as they see fit over time.

“When you’ve completed this you may decide to just move back in,” Lavinder said. “If not, you’ll at least know you gave yourself the best chance of attracting motivated buyers when your home hits the market.”

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