"Why do I need to substantially improve my home before putting it on the market?"
Ah, the great debate over what to fix, change and improve before putting a home on the market. The listing agent’s recommendations can seem endless. Many sellers still believe they shouldn’t have to do those things or not nearly to the level of what their listing agent is suggesting.
After all, a buyer is going to come in and do what they want anyway. “Why do I need to give them new appliances and countertops in the kitchen or even new flooring?” They think. “Repairs? What repairs? Everything in this house works just fine — why should I have to try to figure out what’s wrong with it? Isn’t that the inspector’s job?”
Where to begin! First of all, sellers never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sellers starting off in the market on the wrong foot, they'll have a very difficult time capturing buyers who would’ve been interested in the home had they done the necessary prep recommended by the listing agent.
Failing to properly prepare a home for sale may communicate the message that the home isn’t maintained and is in need of a lot of repairs. It makes the buyer wonder what else may be seriously wrong that they can’t see.
In short, it might look like a money pit, and it will cause buyers to eliminate it or make a low offer. Even if the improvements or repairs are not costly, a couple of thousand dollars — or even a few hundred dollars — spent could net a much stronger offer price because the seller can’t assume buyers and their agents have a realistic grasp of the costs involved to fix up the house.
Oftentimes, armchair estimates can be overinflated for things like painting and repairs such as caulking, grouting or replacing a carpet. A deep cleaning also goes along way to inspiring buyer confidence. A clean space sends the message that the home has been taken care of.
Many sellers say they can always tackle prep-for-sale things if they become an issue after the house is on the market. It doesn’t quite work like that. By the time a seller’s home has hit the market, it’s already been replicated across numerous websites, and a host of marketing activities (print, digital, 3D videos, in-person and virtual open house events) are well underway.
Interest and attention is always at its peak when a property first hits the market. Therefore, a poor first impression will not generate the excitement and motivation for buyers to run over to see the house and make an offer.
Often, the seller starts to chase the market by doing what should’ve been done in the first place. The agent then has to run interference with repromoting the listing, which could involve new photos, marketing and exposure with the hopes that people will reconsider if they eliminated it or attract some new attention.
After doing prep-for-sale work, many sellers think they can raise their asking price because they simply repaired or replaced things that needed to be done in the first place. Again, it does not work like that. The market won’t pay more for maintenance, but it will result in better showings and the likelihood of strong offers.