By Jeremy DeLay, Tulsa Home + Design Realty
There are a lot of things that factor into a home’s value, plenty of which you can’t control. Some examples of things outside of your control are the school district your house is in, comparable listings in the neighborhood, including foreclosures, overall neighborhood conditions, and the general location relative to other businesses and facilities. According to familyhandyman.com, “Studies show that living close to certain businesses and facilities can drag down property values. Being in close proximity to the following are associated with these drops in property value:
- Bad school (22.2 percent)
- Strip club (14.7 percent)
- Homeless shelter (12.7 percent)
- Cemetery (12.3 percent)
- Funeral home (6.5 percent)
- Power plant (5.3 percent)
- Shooting range (3.7 percent)
- Hospital (3.2 percent)
So, that’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a lot of variables that contribute to your home’s resale value that you can control. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but includes some very common things that tend to push home values down and are relatively easy to fix if you’re wanting to list your property. In no particular order, here are 4 things that could be hurting your home’s value:
- Poor curb appeal
- Over personalization
- Outdated Kitchen and Bathroom
- Deferred maintenance
Let’s start at the top, poor curb appeal. Obvious as it may be, this is the first thing potential buyers see as they pull up to your house and potentially the biggest first impression you’ll ever have to make. There are 2 main issues to address when it comes to curb appeal. The first is your yard. Making sure that it is not only freshly mowed and weeded, but also considering the condition of your flower beds, trees and shrubs is very important. This may not need saying, but getting rid of any trash or debris is also crucial. A well taken care of lawn sends the message to buyers that you’ve taken good care of the place. The second item to address with curb appeal is exterior paint and décor. If you’re getting ready to list your home, take a walk around the exterior and note the condition of your paint. Is it old, cracked, and faded? A fresh paint job, while not the cheapest of updates, will do wonders for your curb appeal. This is a relatively small-ticket item that can have a huge impact in the mind of buyers. Be sure to do your research and work with your Realtor and perhaps even a designer to choose colors that are up to date and will speak to a wide audience. Since this won’t be your home for much longer, try to avoid making it unique to you, but rather what you know has the best chance to selling.
That brings me right to the next item on the list, over personalization. It’s an easy thing to overlook, but when you are listing your home, it is so important to neutralize. From color to décor, do your research and prepare your home to appeal to as many people as possible. This is a great opportunity to declutter in preparation for the sale as well. Go through your house and look at surfaces that may be overcrowded with pictures. Do you have accent walls with eclectic colors that you love? Consider toning those down with something more generic. If you have a hobby collection or sets of nick nacks, this is a perfect time to store those away for your next home. And it’s not just the inside that needs to be neutralized. We talked about curb appeal in the first point, and an important part of that is making sure your exterior isn’t too unique to you and your interests. Things like too many garden gnomes or a “forest” of hanging plants may distract from the house itself, or make it too difficult for the buyers to imagine making it their own. The great thing about the first 2 items on our list is that they are relatively easy to address. The next one can be a bit trickier.
Item number 3 on our list is outdated kitchens and bathrooms. It’s likely that at some point, if you’re interested in homes at all, that you’ve heard the phrase “kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.” I don’t know who originated that phrase, if any one person even did, but I’d have to agree. According to trulia.com, “The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and master bath. These are the interior spaces where the most value can be added during a sale, so they need to look their best.” A few important items to consider when assessing the condition of your kitchens and bathrooms, and deciding what, if anything, to replace or remodel are:
- Counter tops. Solid surface counter tops are in and are more or less expected these days.
- Cabinets. People want nice, newer cabinets and, if possible, cabinet hardware. Because of the huge success of shows on HGTV and other home improvement networks, aesthetics are very important. Just painting over outdated cabinets may not be sufficient to actually increase value.
- Flooring. It shouldn’t need to be said, but kitchens and bathrooms should not be carpeted. You also want to avoid anything that shouldn’t get wet. Consider wood, waterproof vinyl, or tile floors for these areas. Whatever you go with, make sure the finishes are up to date and you’ve chosen materials that you’re sure can withstand the amount of moisture and wear and tear they’ll get in that specific space.
- Appliances. This is a combination of form and function. Not only getting appliances that look nice and up to date, but that also work well. Something important to note here, and really on this whole list, is to continue to focus on de-personalization. A huge specialty range or refrigerator may not appeal to every potential buyer, so save the money on that and go for something that’s still nice, but more generic.
- Fixtures. Quirky and gaudy light fixtures, though easy to replace, can make it very hard for someone to picture themselves in the space. When you’re renovating, opt for something a little more toned down, but still updated and in style.
The last item on our list and perhaps the most important thing that could greatly affect your home’s value is deferred maintenance. Several things to consider right off the bat are the age and condition of your hot water heater, the HVAC system, the roof, and anything involving running water. If you’ve noticed anything leaking and have either ignored it or just put a “band-aid” over the problem, now is the time to address it. While some of these things can be quite expensive to repair or replace, not updating them could be even more costly, including potentially costing you money on your sale. Before anything has to be pointed out to a buyer via a home inspection, take some time to go through your property and invest in the maintenance needed to ensure everything is working properly.
We’ve discussed how to add value to your home in another article, but it’s easy to forget that your home can lose value if you don’t stay on top of things. Hopefully, this will be a good starting point for things to address as you prepare your home to sell.
*At Tulsa Home + Design, we work with clients at every step of their home-buying and owning journey to help them find and create spaces to live and grow. Call us today. www.tulsahomeanddesign.com