I was recently standing at a client's front door with a granite contractor. I was listing the things we were doing to the house to get it ready to sell. He smiled and said, "They won't want to leave when it's done. They never do. They always say, 'Why didn't we do this earlier so WE could enjoy it?'"
There is such truth in that statement. One of the things I love about my job is the amazing transformations I create for my clients, but I know, like a good psychologist, there is a bittersweetness to discovery. And quite often, there is owner's remorse for waiting to do things to a home until they are ready to sell, thereby missing the chance to enjoy their own homes.
If you rent your home for Masters, you may be fortunate in that you are forced to update and truly see your home in its best light in order to stay current and marketable. But every homeowner needs to remember that life can take unusual turns, and it is best to keep your largest investment market-ready all the time. Here are some things MOST houses I visit need to consider.
1. Be aware of YOUR market. One thing that is often helpful for my clients is to see comp homes on the market in their area. Are there houses selling in your market? Look at their photos online in sites like Zillow or Realtor.com. What are their kitchens, master bedrooms, bathrooms like? Visit new homes in your area during Open House Sundays. What trends, colors, fixtures did the builders employ?
2. Neutralize. Yes you may LOVE your monkey wallpaper and gold bathroom fixtures in your master bathroom, but I will guarantee you...buyers will not. Remember that it is FAR easier to change pillows, throw rugs, bed linens than walls. Keep your walls neutral and put your color into things that are easily updated as trends change.
3. Fix. It. Now. Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait to list your home because of the leaking roof, broken fireplace, rotting doggie door you've known about for years. Take a yearly walk through your home and look at every feature, jotting down the things that need to be addressed. It is very easy to become blind to things that aren't catching our attention in our every day lives.
4. Do things for YOU. Clients are often amazed at how easily and affordably their homes are updated for sale. "I wish I'd done it years ago..." is the common regret. There are certain things that really make a home marketable, but you don't have to wait until your leaving to enjoy them. Paint your rooms and trim. Update your kitchen. Paint or reface your cabinet fronts, and update your drawer pulls, replace your countertops.
5. Take care of what you have. I am always surprised to see the effects of living too quickly. Cabinets that could have been saved by a daily removal of water and a monthly wipe down often must be fully replaced. The effects of mold and rust can take down a bathroom if not removed and watched on a regular basis. Wipe down your doors and keep track of handprints and scuff marks. Deep clean your carpets and address stains immediately. Living is messy but a little effort as things happen can allow you to keep your investment in its best shape.
6. If you know you're going to move in a year? It's time to get started with the preparation. Not sure what to do? Hire me. For 150.00 I'll tell you what rooms in your home need attention...what things are a must and what things can easily be transformed. If you already know what to do? A year out is a good amount of time to get your house in show order. Contractors are hard to get in this town and remodeling may take months. Don't make the mistake of listing your home and hoping for the best and THEN hiring a stager. It may sit and become stale and cost your more money in the end than if you had planned for selling it effectively before it went on the market.
Your house should be a haven and joy for your family and should reflect and express who you are. But never forget, it is an asset that may allow your family to rent for Masters or easily sell and move forward into new jobs and new journeys in life. Keep it at the ready.
Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and professional Masters preparation specialist. To learn more about her services, please visit: Staged2aTee.com.