If selling your home was as easy as putting up a sign and publicizing a price, that would be…well, a dream. Literally. In reality, there’s so very much more to it, and it’s not a task to take lightly or attempt on your own. Represented by knowledgeable and sophisticated realtors, today’s buyers are more educated and, shall we say, more finicky than ever before. Realtors also help develop educated sellers and guide them through the process to get the best return possible on their investments. Most buyers in the Lincoln market today are looking for move-in ready homes, so selling as-is isn’t always the best way to achieve that maximum investment. With that in mind, it’s worth doing a little resell remodeling first.
The Silent Killer
According to Brad Hulse, general manager and broker for Lincoln First Realty (www.lincolnfirstrealty.com), one of the primary things that Lincoln homebuyers are looking for today are houses that are move-in ready. That means no outdated cabinetry and trim, no unfinished bathrooms, basements, or other areas of the house, and the like.
“The days of sweat equity and improving a property over time have become obsolete,” Brad said. “With the advent of consistently low interest rates, most homebuyers look mostly at their monthly payment as the most important aspect of buying a home. After that, most potential homebuyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready.”
With all the variables on the table in a home purchase, Brad said, it’s absolutely crucial to hire a professional realtor to guide you through the process. Lincoln First Realty has a lot of personal and professional experience with the importance of resell remodeling. They know what the difference will be if you paint your home gray versus brown, they know if you need to replace your entire concrete driveway or make fixes—all things that relate to getting the maximum value for your home. At or near the top of that list is the value of curb appeal.
“Curb appeal plays a huge role in the sale of a home!” Brad said. “I like to call curb appeal—or rather the lack thereof—‘the silent killer.’ No homebuyer will quantify a home with the lack of good curb appeal but there will just be something they don’t like. When enhancing your curb appeal, the most important things to consider are related to maintenance. Trimming trees and bushes, painting chipped paint, and fixing broken items, (like shutters, siding, front steps, railings, etc.) will make the biggest difference.”
Regardless of the state of demand for housing in any market, maintenance of your home should never be deferred, Brad said. By deferring something simple or inexpensive to maintain, you open up the mind of potential homebuyers to interpret what might or might not be happening with a small but noticeable issue. Just fix it and don’t make them question it.
Finding a move-in ready home is one of the leading demands of homebuyers across the board, but most prominent among millennials and people who are downsizing. But COVID-19 has ushered in a whole new set of values for homebuyers. With people working from home more and kids learning from home, the needs of family homes have expanded and they want the spaces to match those changing needs.
“Easy-to-clean wood floors play a big role for people due to COVID,” said Pat Ohmberger, Associate Broker/REALTOR® for HOME Real Estate (www.homerealestate.com). “In-home offices are in high demand, too, because people are revisiting what home is. It used to be just a sanctuary for after time at their workplace. Now they might need a separate area for their workplace that is separate from the family area, and with mom and dad working from home and kids doing virtual schooling, there is a vast need for strong internet to be able to provide that without interruption. This is a huge thing. We have so many more needs for our computers at all levels and we need to revisit that, especially in some of these older homes that don’t have adequate access.”
When all is said and done, though, curb appeal just might carry the most weight of all when it comes to resale value of your home. For starters, that means you should be cautious about using deceiving photos on the internet, and keep your place looking clean and cared for.
“A good photographer can give a house street appeal but then buyers drive up and don’t see any of that,” Pat said. “If the lawn isn’t well-maintained, lots of potential buyers say, ‘If they don’t take care of the outside, why would they take care of the inside?’ and they won’t even go in. Keep the lawn looking good, plantings and bushes properly trimmed, weeds pulled, light bulbs working, and replace broken or cracked windows. Curb appeal can literally make or break a sale.”
The perception of a home based on everyday maintenance continues as soon as potential buyers enter it—and it’s not always the dated cabinetry or bold paint colors.
“In my 28 years of showing homes, the biggest turnoff is when a potential buyer walks into a home and it’s dirty or has a pet odor or the smell of smoke,” Pat said. “Those are things that really have the biggest effects on buyers. There will be those rare few that it won’t bother, but they’re truly rare. What I always tell sellers is ‘Neat and tidy always outsells dated.’”
Technology is another feature that can truly boost the value of your home for resale. A couple of the primary things that buyers are looking for in this category are security systems and entertainment features. Homebuyers today want to feel safe and they want their homes to run smart and efficiently.
“People want added security cameras on the exterior, plus ring doorbells, lights in the foyer and on the porch, all on an automated system,” said Addison Collingsworth, owner of Simply Smart Homes (www.simplysmarthomesne.com). “On the inside, they want smart speakers and Alexa, and tied-in, in-ceiling audio, all with simple controls. Smart entertainment and security options are great add-on and peace-of-mind features for sellers to attract potential buyers.”
Buyers today also want high-efficiency homes, Addison said. That might include things like better insulation and utilities that are controlled better with smart thermostats that will save money by not overheating or overcooling the home.
“We have thermostats that can know where your phone is so the heater will go lower when you’re out of the house for a certain amount of time, but it won’t go so far down that it takes forever to reheat when you return,” he said. “Then when you’re 10 minutes out—or whatever time you set it for—it starts reheating or cooling so it’s just right when you get home. You can also improve your home’s water efficiency with smart sprinkler heads that will know the lawn, the season, the type of grass, sun exposure, and the like, and will know not to water your grass when it would be wasted. If it rains, these sprinklers will know the humidity and wait when it’s high, or it will stop when the wind is above 20 miles per hour and save you a ton of money.”
Addison said that there are a number of other features that sellers can add to up the ante for buyers without spending a lot of money up-front. Those include security systems and cameras that you can control from your phone, plus smart locks with keypads, in-ceiling speakers that take little to no training to use, and WiFi coverage that is dependable everywhere in the house. Another thing that many people don’t think about in terms of security is having a direct line of sight from inside a house to the front of it, which in some cases will require an additional camera.
“These are huge intangibles for people buying a house,” Addison said. “They really complete the picture for them, and they’re affordable enough to really set you apart from the pack.”
The Color of SOLD
If you are in the market to sell your property with some minor upgrades, a fresh coat of paint can increase the value!
“People want to have a new home that’s move-in ready—especially millennials,” said Walter’s Painting (walterspaintinginc.com) Owner Jeff Walters. “Leaving things undone can mean not getting what your property is worth. One of the things that people do wrong is to wait until they have to pass a loan inspection and ask us to get rid of chipped and peeling paint. I always suggest that people do it in advance of selling so they get to enjoy it for a while themselves!”
Walter’s Painting offers first-rate exterior- and interior-painting services, in addition to wallpaper removal, power washing, refinishing decks, re-staining, painting cabinets—basically any coating or coating removal you can think of. Jeff recommends against trying to patch up paint when it’s a little beyond a few chips.
“You really don’t want it to look patched or touched-up,” he said. “Some of the conditions that turn homebuyers off most are rooms that haven’t been painted for 20 years and have nail holes all over the walls, water-damaged ceilings, etc. Anytime there’s a scheen to your paint, you can’t touch it up. You should at least paint corner to corner. That is a common mistake homeowners make and the job will look touched up because of the scheen. Flat paint does touch up easier.”
When it comes to trendy colors, Jeff said, blues are really coming into favor, as people are moving out of the grays. Millennials and their colors are a whole different thing, though. That’s why it’s important to hire an expert to help you-and Walter’s Painting is a fabulous choice. Jeff has been painting homes in Lincoln for 29 years and has a good idea of what buyers are looking for. He has learned to listen to their needs and, even if they can’t afford the total overhaul, identify the priorities and get the house respectable looking—fresh, clean, and presentable—for the market.
“I get to paint the world a whole new color,” Jeff said. “How much better does it get? I’m living the dream.”
If you’re looking for an affordable way to make a stunning upgrade to your home before putting it on the market, you can’t lose with new flooring. It can change the entire look and attitude of virtually any room in your home. When you’re upgrading floors to improve your home’s resale value, Jacque Lee of EMO Flooring (www.emoflooring.com) says be sure to choose a material that it stylish but flexible for future owners. For simple and classic, hardwood is always a good choice, while tile and stone are popular for being pretty and practical. If you want to create a classy, comfy option, you can’t beat the luxurious comfort of carpet.
“Hard flooring is extremely popular and versatile these days, but if you’re upgrading for resale value, keep in mind that many people like to keep carpet in their bedrooms for the comfort factor,” Jacque said.
In addition to offering a wide variety of carpet, hardwood, area rugs, tile and stone, laminate, and even vinyl flooring materials and installation, EMO Flooring also offers floor-refinishing services, which can give your floors a nice boost without breaking the bank. They can sane and stain your wood floors to a different color or return them to their original splendor. Tile is another trendy remodeling material for everything from floors to walls to backsplashes, and it’s not all about pale beige and boring anymore.
“Today’s new colors are richer and somewhat deeper, and there are exciting looks in surface texture and edge treatments,” Jacque said. “Tile is appearing in larger sizes, too, so that it’s easier than ever to make a dramatic statement that you love.”
Light Up Your Life
If you want to maximize the value of your home for resale, don’t forget to tap into the modern age of lighting. Gone are the days when lighting your home was about replacing your light bulbs now and again. It’s truly become an art, and buyers are looking for all the latest and greatest in LED technology. This is a great way to increase the value of your home before selling it—but always hire a professional electrician to make sure it’s done safely and to code. Jon Eicher, project manager for ABC Electric (www.abcelectric.net), says the LED lighting industry is continuously evolving, and the demand is increasing for residential lighting remodeling projects that employ Bluetooth technology. It’s changing the resell remodeling landscape with app-based controls.
“We have all manners of LED lighting and controls in kitchens and family spaces,” Jon said. “We are seeing Bluetooth technology being incorporated into not just control systems but LED lighting as well. LED lighting now has the capability of adjustable lumen outputs, or brightness, and color-changing capability integral to the fixture. This sector of the industry continues to evolve.”
Having been in the industry for nearly 90 years, ABC Electric has been part of that evolution firsthand and has acquired all of the specialized equipment, tooling, and experience to set them apart from the competition. In fact, there also are very few potential stumbling blocks that ABC’s management team and highly skilled technicians haven’t experienced—so you can be confident that they know how to address just about any potential issue that could arise during a resell remodel of your electrical system.
“It can be tempting to hire a handyman or a friend of a friend to potentially save you some money, but do yourself a favor and check references,” Jon said. “Check references of licensed contractors, as well. The reputable ones have nothing to hide.
Master Electrician Matt Collins of Oak Electric (oakelectriccompany.com) said that lighting is one of the best upgrades to consider when you’re doing a resell remodel of your home. The options are plenteous and the results are worth the investment.
“For example, if you have or are investing thousands of dollars in updating your kitchen to maximize the resale value of your home, why not invest a little more and install under-cabinet lights to showcase the space?” Matt said. “The same goes with bathrooms. You can install new lighting over the shower or bath area, and you might be surprised how much it showcases your investment.”
Matt says the most popular trend in home lighting today is to replace old overhead light fixtures with strategically placed can lights—and the updated look brings a wow factor to the room. Another stunner is to design directional lighting to enhance artwork or photography that you have hanging on your walls. Don’t forget your exterior lighting, either, because exterior lighting is just as important as interior lighting. It provides increased safety, increased functionality to use your patio or deck, and improves your home’s curb appeal to potential buyers.
Before you make improvements to your house to get it ready to sell, getting a pre-renovation inspection of your home before putting it on the market is a good idea. Normally, buyers are the ones who set up formal inspections, but doing it beforehand can put you ahead of the game. For one, it automatically opens a gateway of trust between you and buyers. You can foreclose all issues up front, repair them beforehand, and protect yourself from any potential claims that a buyer might otherwise attempt to make later.
King’s Home Inspection (kingsinspections.com) recommends having your home inspected before completing resell-remodeling projects or listing to avoid any unexpected repairs or costly surprises once your home is under contract. The pre-renovation consultation with King’s is a different service that a pre-purchase inspection. It has a scope that is defined more by the homeowner, the work you have planned, and the details of the house. You might have to decide that the electrical service, heating system, or plumbing should be upgraded to support the resell remodeling plans you have.
Even in a seller’s market like the Lincoln housing market continues to experience in 2020, it’s important to consider how you can maximize the value of your home before putting it on the market. Just don’t try doing it on your own. We recommend contacting some of the professionals we’ve featured here to get the right work done right!