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There are three important steps that all Sellers need to consider before putting their home on the market. These are Staging, Updating, and Repairs. They are completely different steps, but ultimately they are steps that help elevate your homes resale value and steps you should consider if you want to get the most profit out of your sale. We are Realtors who are experienced in Home Staging, Home Updating, and Home Repair, so we know how to advise you on what should be done and if repairs or updates are needed. In fact Debra was the first Realtor who was an Accredited Staging Professional in the Indianapolis area back in the early 2000s, and we actively flip houses which is heavily dependent on updates and repairs. We know who to call to get the best prices on these activities. We do level 1 home staging ourselves, usually at no charge, which is all that most houses require. If you need a higher level of staging, such as large furnishings, we know stagers that offer that service.
Home Staging is a focused effort to get a home ready to sell so that it appeals to the greatest number of people. That is also the goal of performing updates, but staging and updating are two different things. Updates are permanent and remain with the home, where Staging is more or less a process. Staging ideally would involve some simple de-cluttering and perhaps some rearranging or placement of substitute furnishings. For example, lots of clutter on the kitchen countertops, like mail, or extra appliances can make the kitchen feel cramped, so clearing and keeping those off would be wise staging effort. Sometimes staging can get more involved. An empty home for example can be an issue, especially if the bedrooms feel small or the family room is laid out in an odd way where it is not clear where the TV and couches would be placed. It pays sometimes to show people how a room could be laid out by adding furniture and arranging it in an optimal way.
How your home shows itself affects how potential buyers see themselves living in it. Things that are distracting can certainly factor into this. We want people to focus on your home and not necessarily what is in your home. If they walk away remembering the hundreds of photos of your family vacations, that oversized couch, or that you are really into mystery novels, then they probably won’t remember how your house compares to the other homes that they have seen. Clutter or improper setup can make rooms look small or seem dysfunctional. An example would be having your dining room set up as a kids play area rather than its intended use. That makes it seem like your home is perhaps outdated. And if you have a lot of clutter on the floor, it can send a message that your house doesn’t have enough storage space, so you have to use the living area as storage. Those would be negatives for your house when comparing to others.
Staging is not a substitute for updating a house. In a house that needs updating, staging can offer some help, but it is often better to do the updating first, rather than rely primarily on staging. Updates would include lighting, paint, flooring, door knobs, window treatments, appliances, and cabinets. Neat and clutter free can expose a lot of weaknesses in your flooring and paint, so you can win one battle and lose the other. Staging will help make your home feel bigger, more functional, and tidy, but it could leave you wishing you had done some updates as well. Updating and staging often go hand in hand, and it is a good idea to do both if needed.
The thing to remember about updating is that if you don’t want to do it, there is a good chance the Buyer doesn’t want to do it either. The Buyers that are willing to do the updates probably have little experience at doing updates so they are going to significantly over estimate the cost of those updates. Another thing that happens when updates are needed is that when you give the Buyer a chance to pick update options, they will usually pick much more expensive items that you could easily get by with doing for them. For example a $2.50 per square foot carpet from the right contractor might cost $3.50 from a big box store, and while at the big box store, the salesman might convince the Buyer that the $5 per square foot carpet will last longer and is more stain resistant, and is therefore a better deal. It’s usually better to get the updates done before you go on the market than try to take a little less for your house or negotiate with a Buyer. And it is usually better to consult with your Realtor as to what updates would be the best.
The final category in getting your home ready for the market is repairs. Repairs and maintenance are something nobody likes to do because it cost money and doesn’t always make you money. For example a brand new water heater doesn’t add to the appraised value of a home, but a leaky water heater will not go unnoticed. Repairs can be expensive if they involve a roof, HVAC, windows, wood rot, water seepage, septic tank, etc. The one thing that is for sure, is that if you don’t disclose up front that these repairs are needed, then chances are you are going to have to have them show up during inspection where they could cause a Buyer to vacate the contract or involve them now in the repair. Where you had a chance to shop around for the repairs before you had a buyer, you may have to negotiate with the Buyer exactly who does the repairs, and how they are done, which drives the price and frustration up.
Some repairs or maintenance can cost you twice. For one they can reduce buyer interest in your home forcing you to reduce your price to get an offer and, when inspection comes, you may end up paying for the repair to get through inspection. Therefore, repairs that are both significant and cosmetic can cost you twice. It’s best to examine your windows, walk around the outside of your house, check your crawl space, bring up things you might think could be a problem and try to work through them before going on the market. That is one of the things we help you do. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to these types of issues.
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