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How far do you need to go with renovating your house before you put it for sale?

03/02/2010

You took a big decision. You are going to sell your house. Preferably fast and for the best price. How are you going to achieve this? You heard about Home-staging, it all seems very logical, and you want to prepare your house so that it will attract lots of visitors (potential buyers). However, it is already a few decades old, and what was then trendy is not trendy anymore. So do you need to renovate it completely? Or should you let the buyer do that? Because he is going to change it completely, right? I will help you and give you some advice, so that you can decide easily what it is that you absolutely need to do before putting your house for sale.

When something does not work anymore…

Let’s take for instance a dripping tap, an electrical socket which does not work or is broken, a skirting board where a piece is missing, a lamp that does not give light anymore, etc. All those problems have to be fixed. Think about it, if you wanted to buy a house, what would you think, as a potential buyer, if you visited a house which seemed not to be very well maintained? You would probably think, what are the other problems in this house, and you would probably skip it and go visit the next one. If one thing does not work, it is highly probable that it is not the only one…

When something looks old…

Take for example a 30 years old stairs. Any visitor will see that it has been highly used and that the paint is going away. Whereas, if you first sand it and paint it, the only thing the visitor will see is that it is well maintained.

Take a good look at the carpeting. Does it need a powerful cleaning? Are there any stains?

Look at the window and door frames. Is the paint going away? Are they damaged?

When something is outdated…

When you had this house built, or when you bought it, brown tiles on the floor was quite trendy, an easy choice to make. If you had to do it again now, you would make a completely different choice, of course. Your taste has changed and the trends as well.

Look at the ceiling. What are you going to do with those dark beams?

The walls are from small brown bricks. Do you need to change them, and if yes how? Because if you want to make the wall flat, that’s quite a piece of work!

How should you go about it?

  1. Everything has to work properly. Lamps, electrical sockets, taps etc. Fill in all the holes in the walls and the frames. Check that the wallpaper is well glued, if not glue it again.
  2. A pot of paint does wonders! Use only light colors, in order for your house to look lighter and more spacey. Paint the old stairs, the window frames. Paint the brown wall in a light color, even if it’s not yet flat, but it will already look much better in off-white. If you have an old kitchen (or an old bathroom), where the tiles do not look nice anymore, you can paint them (don’t forget to first apply a tile-specific under layer) to freshen them up. Paint the walls which have a bright and outspoken color (like red…). Because your goal now is not anymore to have a house that fits you, but a house that is attractive to a bigger public.
  3. Nice decorative accessories do wonders too! Take for example a nice cream carpet on the dark brown tile floor. If you have a dark sofa, use light colored cushions to compensate. Use accessories in order to bring light and a peaceful feeling.
  4. Remove pieces of furniture (not all of them, of course, but often more than what you would first think of). Empty closets and book shelves. Not completely, but about half of them. The visitors will experience the space as being bigger.

As you can see, (re)decorating your house is as important as renovating it. With a proper decoration, you can achieve a lot without having to pay too much for it. So please don’t go too far with renovating, but think first about the costs and what it will bring. If you can get the same results for cheaper, the choice is easily made…

If you are still in doubt with your house, send me pictures and I will give you some advice!

Good luck with the sale!

This article was first published in its original version (in Dutch) on the blog http://www.descherpepen.nl (a webblog specialised in real estate) where I am guest blogging.

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