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Review of all things Real Estate: Four things that will decrease the value of your home

Our market activity indicator currently is 45 which means we are in a neutral to slight seller’s market. I came across some tips that talked about what people do (or don’t do) to their properties that actually decrease the value of their homes which, in a neutral market, is not the prudent thing to do.

Let’s take it from the first impression. The value of a curb appeal cannot be overemphasized since there is only one chance to make a first impression, and a lot of that first impression is landscaping. I read several authors, one of whom advocated spending 25% of the home’s current value on landscaping (I disagree with that number because I know that it can be accomplished for less; done it).

But the number one way to create an unfavorable impression is bad or non-existent landscaping. Curb appeal, or lack thereof, can even result in buyers simply driving away before they get out of the car to examine all the great qualities of the home. No amount of marketing can overcome poor or non-existent landscaping and any offer will reflect the buyer’s distain for an unkept yard.

Another negative impact on value is also seen from the street, old, patchwork-looking, and/or damaged roofs. As the market moves increasingly toward neutral, buyers become more discerning about what is an acceptable condition of the house. If there are worn composite shingles, cracked/ broken Spanish tile, or cracked and slipped concrete tile, these defects show beacons.

As a homeowner who is contemplating listing their house to reap the maximum price possible, take an objective look at the roof. If there is visible deterioration and/or damage that can be a huge objection for a buyer who can only envision a full roof replacement, when in reality it might only require spot fixes.

In other words, get ahead of the drama and make the repairs while they still represent a smaller price tag because the worst case is buyers don’t even make an offer because they are afraid of the expense of a full roof replacement.

After you walk around looking at the roof, walk around the entire exterior and interior of the house. Bring a pad and pen and critically note the condition of the house. Has maintenance been performed or are there items that have been deferred? When we look at the house daily because we live in it, it’s easy to overlook maintenance items, but from a perspective buyer’s point of view, if they can see deferred maintenance items, they wonder about the defects they are not seeing.

What is the condition of the paint, does it need freshening or a complete re-do? In the big scheme of things painting doesn’t cost that much or take that much time; particularly if you can do it yourself. But the rewards will be worth it when the colors are crisp and clean and there is that “freshly” painted smell. Fresh paint can help mask pet odors too.

By the way, if anyone is smoking in the house, please quit doing so immediately and go find an isolated outside area well away from the house; cigarette smoke smell is a buzz killer for buyers. If there has been smoking in the house, prime the walls with a smoke smell killing paint like Kilz. It will seal in the smell, then you can paint a nice, clean smelling finish coat of paint which, in addition to visible current maintenance, the buyers will reward you with higher offers.

Okay great, the buyers came into the house after checking out the landscaping and the roof, and they have walked through the various non-plumbing rooms, and they still seem interested. Then they come to the bathrooms and the kitchen. What will devalue the property is outdated kitchens and bathrooms.

Wallpaper is not vogue in today’s southwestern living styles. Tile counter tops are “okay” by some accounts, but mostly the appetite is for granite, quartz and even wood counters. Antique oak cabinets scream “old” as do gold plated faucets. The good news is that the antique oak cabinets can be painted (my daughter painted hers and wow, what a difference!). Changing out cabinet pulls and dated faucets will pay you dividends.

The best news is none of these recommendations are terribly expensive. And as was passed at the marketing meeting this morning, after the upgrades and improvements had been made, the client took her home off the market because she fell in love with her own house again. Even if you don’t do that, you will have made it easier for buyers to fall in love with your house and that will result in higher offers.


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