Why I Started Preparing My Home For Sale 6 Years Before Selling It

I should know a few things about preparing a home for sale. I’ve seen hundreds of situations and given out plenty of advice about how to make cost effective improvements, being thankful that I didn’t have to be the one to make them happen
In all these situations I’ve noticed some patterns that have affected my most recent approach to home ownership (if  you will recall I took a 12 year, very pleasant break from home ownership) and they all lead back to the same conclusion: why wait until  you are ready to sell to make the improvements that are going to help you sell your home? Make those improvements now – assuming you can afford to do so.
I will probably sell my home in 4 years but even 2 years ago I started to make improvements to my home with my eye on a sale 6 years down the road. Maybe I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about making these improvements if I wasn’t a realtor but I think my logic extends to just about everyone who owns a home.

Two Weeks Prior To Listing You’ll Become The Tasmanian Devil

tasmanian devilThis is actually the biggest problem in my opinion. The volume of work required can be overwhelming, causing most people to go into a frenzy for weeks prior to selling. I’ve seen some people put off their sale for several months because they just don’t have time to deal with things. So I’m trying to spread out the chores. I have a mental list of what I want done and I try to work on them a little at a time.

Holding Off On Needed Maintenance Will Cost You More In The Long Run

It’s pretty sad when you see a big problem that started out as a small problem – and quite often it involves water. Maybe there is a leak in the house and water is getting in. Left unchecked that small water leak is going to destroy wood, drywall, mortar, brick, and maybe even create a mold problem. And that faucet that is starting to stick will eventually seize up all together and end up destroyed in an attempt to fix it. And that funny noise coming from that thingamabob is eventually going to burn up the motor. See that rat burrow under your sidewalk? They are undermining the concrete support and your sidewalk will crack. And you better track down where that funny smell is coming from.
So when I see these small problems I take care of them ASAP. I’m constantly on the lookout for signs of water infiltration. I even bought a moisture meter so I can test for hidden problems.

Why Should The Next Owner Enjoy Your Improvements?

There are a couple of aspects to this concept. On the one hand if that aging dishwasher needs to be replaced why not replace it now so that you can enjoy it for the next few years? In my own case I had no landscaping and no irrigation system. I thought those two items could really improve the first impression of my home so I’ve actually invested quite a bit of time and money on a garden (which apparently doesn’t like me). Similarly, I had a pretty crappy doorbell for a couple of years and I had to remind myself that potential buyers were not going to put up with that so why should I? So I installed a video intercom/ doorbell system. Now I can answer the door from any floor and actually see who is there without opening the door, which has the added benefit of making me feel really important – like a celebrity.
In addition, making these improvements several years before you sell can actually tip the scale on whether or not to make the improvement at all. The return on many home improvements is questionable at best – even improvements made to help you sell your home. It’s hard to know if you will get your investment back in terms of a higher sale price or a faster sale. However, if you get to enjoy the improvement for 4 years prior to sale then that provides additional value. That’s why I’ll probably upgrade my audio system soon.

Return On Investment

As you might imagine there is plenty of data out there on how much of your investment you can expect to get back on common home improvements. Just Google “return on home improvements”. One of the most thorough sources of this information comes from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report but to get it you’re going to have to give them your information so that they can sell you as a lead. Here is the link for Chicago’s Remodeling Cost Vs. Value Report. I guess I could have downloaded the report for you and linked to my copy but, hey, these guys have to make a living too.
Keep in mind that this data represents really broad averages so you have to temper it with a lot of judgement. If your bathroom is from the 70s chances are that remodeling it will have a better return than if it is from the turn of the century. Also, as I indicated  above, ROI is not the only consideration. There is also the value derived from you enjoying it for a few years before you sell.
So what are you waiting for? Make your list, prioritize it, and get busy!
#HomeImprovements #HomeMaintenance #HomeSelling
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he’s the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.

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