Sweat the small stuff now... for greater results when you sell your home.

What do Carmel area homebuyers look for when house hunting?

These tips were compiled as a result of real conversations and insights with Carmel area home buying clients. 

The Carmel area has a wide price range of homes for sale; varying from low $100Ks to over a few million dollars with the current average list price of $429,000.  So while this list needs to be relevant to your home having more of the Carmel area buyers’ "must-haves" and avoiding their "deal breakers" will be the key to realizing the best financial results.  

Yes, this list is rather exhaustive, but it is intended to be a guide.  Not every home needs such a thorough makeover.  And most homes only need attention to a the key details.  We will work with you to determine where your money brings the greatest return.


Initial Impression: Curb Appeal

No matter how good the interior looks, buyers have already judged your home even before stepping foot inside. There’s no second chance to make a great first impression, so it’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach your home.  And these dollars are typically smaller with big return.

1. Clean up your landscape and add mulch and colorful flowers.

2. Remove old overgrown bushes and trees.

3. Fix masonry/paver stones.

4. Seal coat your walks and top coat the driveway.

5. Paint your front door an inviting color and add a pretty welcome mat.

6. Paint the exterior—especially the trim work.

7. Get your roof cleaned to give it a brand new, fresh appearance!

8. Bright white trim looks fresh and clean.


Darker stained floors are more popular today

9. If you have traditional honey oak floors or dated pickled floors from the 80s-90s, think about investing in refinishing. It is relatively inexpensive for the big impact that it will provide.

10. If you have carpeting with hardwood floors underneath, uncover them! This is a huge asset you want to show off. Hardwood floors are “sexy” to buyers today, and can really help sell your home for more money.


Wallpaper MUST Come Down

11. Most—if not all—homebuyers in any price range cringe when they spot wallpaper in a prospective home. They anticipate a huge mess and an expensive inconvenience. Although sellers tell me that they are willing to offer a credit to compensate buyers for this dated feature, most buyers just can't see past it when viewing photos online and may just click "next." Even if the buyers can see past the wallpaper, be prepared for them to overestimate the cost of removing and repainting. And many will add in some extra “hassle bucks!” For the most positive impact, you should take it down.


Re-paint the House, Inside & Out

12. Painting can be one of the least expensive preparations that can make the most impact. Have colors work in your favor instead of against you.  At a minimum, repaint areas with opinionated colors.

13. Get advice from a color expert to help you choose. Neutrals, neutrals, neutrals. You want it to feel inviting and evoke the emotions of warmth and joy. Stay away from bright, bold colors.

14. If you have a home with dark stained moldings and windows, paint these moldings bright white! Even though you may LOVE the look of dark wood trim, the buyers of today generally DON’T. The dark wood crown molding defines the ceiling height, which can make the room feel less open and spacious. Additionally, online photos with dark trim makes most buyers feel the home is dated. This may cause them to skip right over your home, even though this is a minor issue.

15. For a fresh look, paint the spindles and risers on your staircase white.


Renovated Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes

You don’t want to do renovations... but neither do buyers. The idea of giving the buyer a credit to do it themselves May be a solution, but does not solve the buyer’s shopping impression. And the buyer’s estimation of the pending costs will surely be higher than your budget.  If you aren’t up for a complete re-do of kitchen and baths, implement simple alternatives to major renovations. Small, poignant fixes can really make an impact.

Kitchens

16. Change the drawer pulls and cabinet knobs to stainless steel, brushed nickel, or oil rubbed bronze.

17. Brass is often viewed as outdated. Remove as many brass fixtures as possible.

18. Some cabinets may benefit from being painted or re-stained. Consider re-facing if the cabinet boxes are in great shape.

19. Add new stainless steel appliances.

20. Swap out your old counter tops with granite and a new stainless steel sink. Regardless of your home’s price range, buyers want and expect granite or similar premium counter! I have some great resources I would be happy to share.

21. Consider installing a stainless steel sink and pull-out spray faucet.


Bathrooms

22. Buy some pretty, fresh, white towels.

23. Change out a dated light fixture.

24. Add new, stylish drawer and cabinet pulls.

25. Remove the big, outdated mirror and replace with a picture frame mirror. Or, if you’re crafty, paint or stain moldings and add them around the perimeter to simulate the look.

26. Add a new shower curtain to add to the updated decor.

27. Consider adding a seamless shower door.

28. Re-grout the tub and shower.

29. Clean the grout on your tile floors.


De-clutter

30. While this is the least expensive suggestion, it’s also the most impactful. But, it can also be a time-consuming and emotional portion of your preparation to sell. Plan ahead! If you are looking to sell during the height of a spring market, don’t wait to start cleaning. 3-4 months ahead of time is not too early to start! Too much clutter can make a buyer feel stressed and negative while walking through your home. Simplified spaces evoke positive emotions and help buyers envision themselves living in your home.


Maximize the Light

After location, a home with good light is one of the most requested qualities. Buyers value great lighting.

31. Remove heavy draperies.

32. Trim back bushes and trees to maximize the light.

33. Clean your windows.

34. Replace light receptacles with higher wattage bulbs.

35. Remove window screens.


Clean the Unfinished Spaces

The unfinished spaces can have as much of an impact as the staged living spaces. Basements, utility rooms, garages, and storage closets are typically forgotten when prepping a home to sell. Buyers know to carefully examine basements and attics for the REAL story on how the home has been maintained and its current condition. Super clean these areas like you would your kitchen. Make it sparkle!

36. Is there a musty smell? Consider adding a dehumidifier to take out excess moisture. Avoid perfumed plug-ins and deodorizers. They appear as attempts to mask a water issue.

37. Painting the basement and/or garage concrete flooring will give the space a fresh, clean look! Battleship grey is my preferred color choice! Think about giving the concrete block foundation walls a fresh coat of waterproof paint. It will give the buyer a sense of security that the house is free of moisture.


Buyers Are Doing Most of their Research Online

38. One of the most important factors that bring buyers to a community is the school system! Even if buyers don’t have school-age kids, most savvy buyers know that a great school system is crucial for a strong resale value down the road.  It is always wise to check out how your home’s elementary school fares, as well as the current reviews and ratings of the high school and middle school that serve your home. See how our neighboring school districts compare. Whether or not these online websites and rankings truly draw an accurate picture of a school or its district, buyers are researching on these sites, finding information and making decisions based on it! So, you need to know what they know.  We will be using our own information on the schools in our marketing for you.


Know the Market

39. It is valuable to be aware of the current inventory of homes for sale, as these homes will represent your competition (or a future comparable) when you are ready to sell. There is a finesse to pricing homes. We provide a free Comparable Market Analysis. Contact us for a free Comparable Market Analysis today.  In a high demand town like ours, setting a fair, appealing asking price can show buyers your home is a great value and can actually lead to a competitive, multi-bid situation resulting in a higher selling price. Try not to factor your own emotional feelings for your home when evaluating its market value. We will work with you to come with a plan to maximize your ultimate value. 


Have a Pre-Home Inspection

40.  It would be wise to have a licensed home inspector or licensed contractor inspect your home. This can save you time and money in the long run. It gives you the opportunity to fix those distracting small issues, as well as eliminate larger concerns that will be uncovered on your time and with the contractor of your choice. Buyers can get spooked, even with small issues, especially if they are not handy people. Being preemptive and fixing these issues in advance, can keep nervous buyers calm and keep your deal from falling apart. The inspector can also test your home for radon and check for pests. If you have a pest maintenance contract, be sure to keep it in effect until after closing, in case the buyer’s inspector finds some critters or wood destroying insects.


Work Smarter, Not Harder

41. Let us do the work for you. We have a team of people that we can connect you with that will take care of each item on your to do list. It's never too early to start planning, so contact us at your earliest convenience.