Resell Remodeling in Lincoln, NE – 2017
In the current residential real estate market, it’s a great time to be a seller. The market is hot and hasn’t shown any sign of cooling down. With inventory being at an all-time low, sellers are getting their asking prices and sometimes more, not to mention the fact that homes are selling very quickly.
Rarely are homes ready to list without some sort of work being done to get them to that point. From a thorough cleaning and staging to remodeling projects, it all depends on the current state of the home and what needs to be done to meet the seller’s objectives, as well as what they’re able to dedicate to those efforts.
When it comes to remodeling projects, there are endless possibilities, and reasons why one would consider a specific home improvement. There are a few scenarios that come to mind for homeowners from a selling standpoint. It may be something that you’ll get more personal enjoyment out of in a home you plan to live in for a lengthy amount of time, but that still adds value for when it comes time to sell. Alternatively, it could be to flip an investment property or to make targeted improvements in order to list the home, with the goal of selling quickly, being able to sell it at all, or getting more money for it.
So, what are the remodeling projects that are most advantageous for those on the selling end of the transaction?
Performing any repairs that are needed takes priority. Whether it’s an aesthetic item like broken tile or a functional item like a dripping faucet, the tiny things detract from the many good qualities of the home. Then, things like a fresh coat of paint, new flooring, new window treatments, and new hardware and/or light fixtures can make a world of difference while being relatively inexpensive. Additionally, new finishes are always attractive to potential buyers. That being said, it’s important to choose materials wisely. While the budget is likely to be more restricted for improvements you are doing to a house just to turn around and sell it, quality still matters, as does workmanship. When procuring your own materials, the trick in this particular instance is to know where to go to get the best deals without sacrificing quality.
Regardless of what you’re considering, consulting with an industry professional to see what the best options are at your price point is much better than making the decision based on price alone. You’d be surprised how far you can stretch your money. They can also tell you what provides a greater return on investment so you can feel confident that if you’re spending the money, you’ll be sure to get the results you desire.
When it comes to any type of home remodeling, there are the jobs you absolutely want to outsource to a professional and the jobs you can take on yourself if you’re capable. Emphasis on IF you’re capable. Sometimes bringing that Pinterest idea to life just requires a little paint and some new hardware, and that’s completely doable for the average person. Other times – actually, oftentimes – it’s so much more complex than one might think.
Here’s the deal about do-it-yourself projects: Yes, they can be empowering. Yes, they can save you money. Yes, you can get them done on your own time frame without relying on others and potentially having to wait longer than you’d like. Provided you know what you’re doing, that is. However, just one simple mistake and you could find yourself injured and/or damage caused, both of which could potentially be costly, even more so than what you would have paid to use the services of a professional.
Here are a few examples of projects that are best left to the pros:
Projects that involve the plumbing or electrical. These are skilled trades, and there’s a reason for that. No matter how simple and straightforward it may seem, these are complex systems and should be respected as such. Even small leads can cause serious water damage and faulty electrical wiring/connections is a fire hazard. Don’t risk flooding or electrical shock either, OK? Just call a plumber or hire an electrician to make sure the job is done right the first time.
Repairs involving heights. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries and approximately 300 of these incidents prove to be fatal. They further estimated that ladder-related injuries effectively cost the public in excess of $11 billion annually. Whether you’re looking at a roof repair or trimming a tree, consider calling a professional before attempting to complete the job yourself.
Repairs that must comply with building codes, permits, etc. A licensed contractor is a professional who understands what’s needed to meet all of the necessary requirements. Of the utmost importance, any structural changes should absolutely be performed by a professional. Accidentally removing a load-bearing wall, for example, could cause an entire room to collapse. However, with regards to any major project, similar to what was previously discussed with the plumbing and electrical, shoddy craftsmanship can severely affect your home’s value and also potentially put your family in danger.
Time-sensitive projects – Weigh your work and family commitments before embarking on a remodeling endeavor. Even if you’re confident in your abilities, the added pressure of a tight deadline can lead to unnecessary and often dangerous mistakes.
All things considered, why take the risk? Safety first! Remember, just because a DIY project looks simple doesn’t necessarily mean it is, or that it’s safe. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and have a professional perform the job.
Now when it comes to attracting buyers, as a good rule of thumb, never underestimate the importance of curb appeal. The exterior aspects of your property like the windows, doors, siding, roofing, and landscaping are all part of making a good first impression, and the newer, the better. These are all points of focus for buyers, because age and condition will affect desirability and the negotiation process.
For staging purposes and renovation projects alike, Outdoor Solutions is your source for just about anything you can think of to improve the appearance of your property. Whether it’s related to landscaping or outdoor entertaining areas, these are the details that can make a big difference in how a buyer feels about the property overall before ever stepping inside. That being the case, you want it to be visually appealing and inviting. Just as with the interior aspects of the home, it helps people to envision living there. Thus, it should be presented in a way that it’s perceived as a property one would take pride in owning.
For both exterior and interior aspects of the home, while it’s not the most common for sellers to take on, sometimes to sell a home the big-ticket items will need to be considered. It’s not just a matter of attracting buyers with the appearance of the home, but also minimizing the expense that they’ll have on top of the mortgage they’re assuming. Oftentimes buyers are happy to pay a higher price for a home if that means there’s not much that will need to be done to it for a number of years. That being said, of course a home can still be an attractive purchase if priced right given the condition it’s in.
Sandra Larsen, an agent with BancWise Realty, offers the following advice which applies to all sellers:
“With such low inventory property values have gone up, and with that comes very high expectations from buyers. If they’re paying top dollar for a home, it would follow that the most move-in ready, updated home will bring the highest price. As a seller, you now have a product for sale and the burden, so to speak, is on you to produce a product that meets demand. When a seller does what they can to give their customer what they want, in turn, a seller should reap a reward for their efforts.
It’s no surprise that updated kitchens and bathrooms make a big difference to buyers. However, in my opinion, the return is not always dollar for dollar. Let’s say there are two comparable houses next door to each other are both are on the market. One has a new kitchen that cost $40,000 and it is on the market for $40,000 more than the next door neighbor with the original kitchen. Which house will a buyer select with everything else being equal except the price? Will a buyer pay $40,000 more for the one with the new kitchen? I don’t know if I can answer that question for every scenario but in my experience, the most likely answer is ‘not quite.’ But a buyer will see value in that improvement and will pay something more than the one without the updated kitchen, so there is a return but it’s not always at a 100% retail rate.
What improvements do for a seller is shorten the time on the market and usually result in attracting a high quality, ready, willing and able buyer. Who doesn’t want that? There is a return; it is hard to quantify but we know the market receives updated homes more favorably. One example from several years ago comes to mind. There was this little ranch house in south Lincoln. It was a rental property and it showed. The owner decided instead of selling it in As-Is condition for around $100,000 that she’d invest in getting it cleaned up, painted inside and out, pull the carpet and refinish the hardwood floors, and replace the roof, which cost about $10,000. After repair concessions, it sold for around $117,000 if I recall. In that case, there was a big return on her investment. Every house is different, every situation is different, and every client’s needs, budget, likes and dislikes are different. Consult with a Realtor® to see what improvements will bring the most impact in your situation.
If you’re considering a kitchen update, bathroom redo, or another repair, refresh, or refurbish project, keep in mind that it’s best to hire a professional. Buyers and agents can spot a badly-done DIY job a mile away. There’s just a way things are supposed to look. Details matter. If it looks funny, people don’t like it and it causes hesitation. Spending time and money improving or maintaining your home and doing it wrong can cost you more in the long run.”
She further emphasizes, “All told, buyers appreciate a spotless, updated home. Even if a home is outdated, if it is very clean, tidy, edited, ready to move in and priced appropriately, buyers will most likely respond. With this in mind, I would advise investing time in packing up things you don’t need and doing a thorough cleaning top to bottom, inside and out. If your budget allows, professional cleaning of the house and windows is a good place to start.
The next layer of financial investment that can make a big difference is fresh carpet and paint in neutral, current tones. If you have hardwood floors under your carpet, consider removing the carpet and refinishing the floors. If you have some things around that house that should really be fixed, try to get those done.
As far as what’s currently on trend, people can’t seem to get enough of the grays and whites these days, right? If there is a way a seller can incorporate gray into their color palette, then it would be time well spent to evoke a current feel. Buyers still appreciate classic design; hardwood floors, soothing greige walls, white trim, a touch of black somewhere in the room, a pop of color in the pillows or the art. I’m not a designer by any means, but I’ve been around many, many buyers in every price range and an updated, current design aesthetic gets their attention.
Depending on the price range, I find that buyers struggle to make an emotional attachment to honey oak and brass finishes. Where possible, switching out hardware and fixtures with non-brass and painting or glazing honey oak cabinets has a HUGE bang for that buck. I know and understand most sellers are very busy, may have a limited budget, are not capable or can’t afford to complete a wish list to prepare for the market. But there are some things are really are ‘must do’ items prior to going out on the open market. These would include cleaning, cleaning and cleaning, pitching and removing all of the clutter and stuff, editing, then cleaning and wiping down some more. Most of us don’t need 75% of the stuff in our house; I know I don’t! An open, decluttered, fresh and clean space with each room staged to its intended purpose will give a buyer a vision of how they would live in that space. This effort is extremely valuable and it usually doesn’t cost much to get that result, but it does take time and it’s usually time well spent.
Also, there are key areas I recommend keeping in mind when preparing to sell that tend to be overlooked. Remove cobwebs and any other undesirable grime from around the front door and put something fun there instead like a pretty planter and a fresh welcome mat. Wipe down light switch plates, doorknobs, doors, door jambs. Why are these key areas? Buyers are milling around the front door while the agent is opening the lockbox so the front porch will get looked over really well. Buyers are already starting to make comments and assumptions about what they’re going to see. Help them be excited. Give them a fun pop of color on the front door and new door knob set that’s easy to use. You get one chance to make a good first impression. Use it to your advantage. A seller has about 20 seconds to help their buyer make a strong emotional attachment to a home. Then while inside the house, we’re turning on lights and turning off lights, opening and shutting doors, and people don’t want to touch something that looks dirty. Keep the positivity going. You’re looking for as many ‘YES’s’ from the buyer as possible. If you can identify any objections ahead of time by consulting with your Realtor®, do what you can to remove those in order to streamline your time on the market.”
Larsen concludes with the following thoughts: “Every house has potential. I’ve seen very few houses that I thought were a total ‘tear down.’ My best advice is to work with what you have. In some scenarios, a complete remodel of an area may be in order but most of the time, that’s not the case. Refurbish, refresh and repair what you have and try to make it the best it can be within time and budget constraints. If you have a weathered deck that’s sturdy and sound, rent a power washer to prep it, then give it a fresh coat of stain. When you have hardwood floors under your worn carpet, pull it up and have the floors refinished. If you have maroon wallpaper in your dining room, as awful a job as it is, remove it and paint. If you have water stains on the ceiling from before the roof was replaced, get that fixed. Go grab a new set of bedding for the master suite and fluff it up to give off the feeling that this is the ‘oasis’ of the house. Pick up a few staging towels for the bathrooms that you don’t actually ever use. I know, it sounds crazy, but a fresh bathroom makes buyers happy. Give your buyer every reason to say ‘Yes’ to your house and the marketplace will be a happy place for you.”
In agreement, Derek Kats, an agent with Keller Williams Lincoln, also gives an overview of what he considers to be the most important items for sellers to consider:
“What I recommend are very basic, yet highly beneficial tips I’ve found when it comes to selling a home. It’s easy to focus on obvious but high dollar items that will help your home sell such as updating a kitchen or bathroom, replacing flooring throughout the house, or finishing a basement. That is great if the seller can afford to pour thousands of dollars into the home before it is listed, but most sellers should focus on more attainable, easier on the budget projects such as the following examples:
–Declutter the house and remove all personal pictures and excess personal property as to help the new buyers picture the home with their own possessions inside instead of seeing the life that the previous owners have lived in the home.
–Fix any wear and tear or deferred maintenance in and around the home. Common repairs would be fixing holes, touch up paint, replacing carpet in high traffic areas, or other minor problems that have been getting put off. The closer the home looks to ‘move-in ready’ the higher chance of the home selling faster and at a higher price in today’s market.
–Clean the home as if the sale depended on it, because many times it does. One would be amazed by the amount of transactions that never come together simply because the home is not clean enough. In most cases, as the Realtor, I would be able to suggest requesting a cleaning allowance to put the deal together, but others may not have the experience to get past that hurdle.
–Avoid falling victim to the hot market by not performing your due diligence when selecting a Realtor to represent you and the sale of your home. The marketing exposure of your home still plays a pivotal role in expediting the sales process. Even in a strong market, a weak marketing plan will be detrimental to the sale of your home. When interviewing Realtors to list your home with, always request to see their marketing plan. It should be all-encompassing but still tailored to the specific client. After all, that is what the majority of your commission fees should be going towards, so make sure they are being allocated appropriately.
Research has shown time and time again that the areas that you can improve in a home which are most attractive to potential buyers are the kitchen and bath areas. In today’s market, you can achieve a good return on your investment if you have the ability to spend a few thousand dollars in the kitchen and bath areas, but how many sellers have the ability to put $5,000 – $20,000+ back into their home just before selling it? Not many, so I personally like to focus on realistic remodeling expectations that provide the highest return on investment, not just the highest sale price.”
That being said, keep in mind that even if you may not be selling your home in the near future, it’s still important with any major renovations to consider their potential value should you choose to put your home on the market. There are plenty of improvements that will not only hold their value, but will be extremely desirable to buyers in the future and will ensure that your home sells fast and at a price that provides a return on your investment in the long run. Home technology is a prime example.
Technology integration is a major selling point in the current market, with smart home devices being particularly attractive.
“Smart home technology is hot right now, and it’s not going to cool off anytime soon,” says Doug Dushan with Echo Systems. “Convenience is in high demand and a home equipped with the tools to bring music and movies to the homeowner with ease is of high value.
Having a system controllable from a smartphone or tablet is very appealing to many consumers. Also, the importance of safety and security for our families cannot be understated. Home security and video surveillance systems are increasingly commonplace.
Even those intimidated by technology are finding the single app-based control system to be the answer for the technology in their home. It can be used to control the audio, video, HVAC, security, cameras, lighting, etc.
If you will be updating your home or staging it to put on the market, talk to a technology professional. No more would you undertake a bathroom renovation without consulting experts. Your home technology is a selling point. Get expert advice so you can speak intelligently about the technology you are selling with the house. It will add value and set you apart from the house down the street.”
Dushan also urges buyers who place importance on home technology to be on the lookout for potential before counting it out. He notes, “Often, homeowners think they need to build a new home to take advantage of the advances in technology available today, but that simply is not true. Approximately 30% of our business is remodel/retrofit work.
Furthermore, all too often new homeowners are handed the keys to a new home with a mess of wires that have little to no value. Having an integrator clean up the wires and/or explain what the wiring can be used for is very valuable and can open up a world of possibilities.”
“Automated home systems remain in high demand among homebuyers in the current market, especially the systems that include comprehensive, or ‘Total Home Connect,’ features that include remote access,” agrees Pat Killeen with Engineered Controls. “These systems not only serve to protect our families, possessions, and buildings, but they will also increase the value of homes and the salability of that value.
The cutting-edge residential technology that’s available improves the living environment and its comfort, reduces energy use, and provides increased security. Today’s smartphones and wireless devices will keep homeowners connected everywhere. Honeywell’s Total Connect Service provides a personalized web portal with mobile apps that allow homeowners to remotely monitor and control their home at any time and from anywhere using a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. With its state-of-the-art security, lighting and HVAC controllers, this is a surprisingly affordable way to control your security system, video cameras and heating and air conditioning needs all in one system that’s simple to use. Homeowners can receive alerts via emails, view live video and control and access their security system, control lighting and thermostat settings, lock/unlock doors remotely and more. Plus the simplicity and comfort that Honeywell’s wireless Prestige IAQ HVAC system provides offers a full-suite of wireless-enabled accessories such as universal diagnostics, water sensor alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, ventilation filtration alarms, and those are just a few that come to mind. The system also provides customizable reminders for replacing the humidifier pad or UV lamp.
Also, don’t overlook the importance of improving your home’s environmental control system, because this is also an area of importance to today’s homebuyers. It will improve the air you are breathing, increase your HVAC equipment’s energy efficiency and longevity, increase your home’s comfort, and offer peace-of-mind by ensuring your home’s safety with respect to the health of the occupants.
Now more than ever we are able to offer connected home technology of the future – a home where heating, security, and entertainment are fully automated and all of the latest gadgets enable creature comforts with the press of a button or a spoken command. When it comes time to sell, these things will be a major draw and an excellent investment that you’ve also been able to enjoy.”
Going back to what was previously mentioned about repairs that take precedence, if any hazards are present they’ll need to be addressed. At some point it will come time for a home inspection and these will come to light, so the recurring theme is it’s best to be proactive.
For sellers, having an inspection done is a great tool to utilize for several reasons. Within the scope of resell remodeling projects, it will direct you right to anything major that would need to be addressed in order to be able to successfully sell the home. This is information that is helpful to know before you’re at the point when you’re trying to negotiate the deal.
Having the information provided by a home inspection prior to when a buyer decides to move forward and initiates one can be very revealing. It will alert you to what you’ll need to address before you list, and also help with identifying the hierarchy of what’s most important.
Ben Bleicher, an agent with Woods Bros Realty, notes, “More than 85 percent of all home buyers who applied for a mortgage also applied for a home inspection, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office. While sellers know that a buyer is going to require a home inspection, they often wait for the buyer to take the initiative. Then sellers wait nervously for the results.
Because most real estate contracts have an inspection clause, the results of a home inspection could cost the seller thousands of dollars to fix the problem, force them to accept a lower price, or cause them to lose the sale. Some sellers have started requesting a pre-inspection from a licensed home inspector. This approach has several upsides:
A competitive edge – In a hot real estate market, sharing the pre-inspection with a buyer could give the seller’s property an edge and speed up the closing.
Fix before listing – A thorough home inspection helps sellers identify potential issues upfront. By fixing the problems before listing the home for sale, the seller removes items a buyer could potentially use as leverage to negotiate a lower price.
Peace of mind – A pre-inspection puts both the seller and a prospective buyer at ease about the potential issues.
All told a pre-inspection can save a seller a significant amount of time, money, and worry.”
Bleicher also offers the following advice for establishing a timeline for completion of any necessary projects. He explains, “Looking ahead, April is statistically the best month for sellers, because buyers have historically paid around 1.2% more than the market value.
Timing the sale of your home to correspond with when conditions are ideal is a wise approach, and then you can plan all of the projects that need to be completed for it to be market-ready accordingly. If you’re able to hang tight until next spring before listing, you’ll have a good window of time to work with, especially if it’s going to be a major undertaking. That being said, there are improvements you can do in a short amount of time that will make a difference too. It all depends because each home and the factors that will influence the sale of it are unique.”
Although it’s beneficial to be able to fix issues beforehand, even if the seller does not fix the defects found in a pre-inspection, they’ll know what to expect when a buyer pays for their own inspection.
Randy King of King’s Home Inspections, LLC further advises, “Having a pre-listing home inspection done identifies issues you may not be aware of, and the inspector can recommend things to repair or upgrade prior to listing that house ‘For Sale.’ Also, having a pre-listing inspection helps with the sale in that it removes fear. That is the number one obstacle in selling a house–fear that there will be things wrong with it. When you present a pre-listing inspection report, and can demonstrate that you have repaired some or all of the items found during the inspection, it removes fear from the buyer about the house.
Another way to make your buyer feel at ease is to purchase a home warranty for the house when you put it on the market. It will cost $400-$600 on average, but it protects you and the new owner when the dishwasher decides to leak three weeks after they have moved in, or the furnace fails, etc.”
So, how does one go about finding the most qualified, experienced and professional home inspector – essentially the best for the job? To this end, King also makes the following points, which are all quite valid and important to keep in mind:
- Do your homework. Inspection companies are not all the same. Talk to them and ask them what they cover. Understand their fee structures, what they do and don’t test, extra charges you may incur, etc.
- Are you talking to the actual person who will be doing the inspection or will it be another employee? Are they willing to meet with you in person at the conclusion of the inspection to discuss the findings and answer your questions? Is it a locally owned and operated company or a national franchise? If it’s the latter, do they have local references for you to contact?
- Ask about credentialing and experience. Many inspectors are “credentialed” and have little experience in the field, while others with many years of experience don’t hold a lot of stock in “credentialing”. In visiting with a home inspector, get a feel for their skill and competency level.
- Ask about any warranty that the home inspector offers covering their specific services. A home inspection is NOT a home warranty. Those are available for a homeowner to purchase and are generally a good idea.
- Understand that a home inspection is simply a visual review of the various systems in a house. It is not an in-depth, invasive analysis of the home. Your home inspector is a generalist, not a specialist. They are not an electrician, a structural engineer, a plumber, etc. Their role is to identify areas of concern and either recommend repairs or additional in-depth analysis of a particular area.
- A home inspection will not uncover hidden defects. That’s why they call them “hidden”. Most Inspectors spend no more than 4 hours looking at a house; they will not find every single issue in that length of time. Remember, it is not an exhaustive analysis; it is a visual review, a snapshot in time.
- An inspector cannot, with certainty, determine how old a water stain is, how old termite damage is, how long a pipe has been corroded, or predict the service life left in an appliance or shingle. They can give you estimates and averages, and that is what you should take them for. Estimates. Averages. Not guarantees.
In total, we’ve covered a LOT of territory, and as you can see the options for remodeling with the intent of selling a home are abundant. With so much at stake and so many different variables, it’s advised to consult with the professionals to get a handle on things before you do much of anything. Ultimately the decision remains with the seller on what improvements they’ll want to do before listing, but it’s important to fully understand the options and the potential outcomes in order to make the best decisions possible. Make sure to consult with your local professionals and use their knowledge and experience to your advantage!