Shows like Flip or Flop and those radio commercials promising a triple digit salary if only you'd come to 5 classes about real estate for the reasonable price of a thousand a piece, give house sellers the wrong idea. Whether you've bought an outdated house to “flip” (the word alone leaves a bad taste in our mouths) or you're selling your own house, you're not going to get buyers by doing things on the cheap.
When “designing to sell” (such a better expression than flip) there are four things to keep in mind:
1. Pick low cost items – the buyers might replace them
I know you're probably like 'but Susie, you just told me not to go cheap' – hear me out. If you're going to replace outdated cabinets, countertops, etc, don't go with the same materials you're most likely replacing: melanine, linoleum, tiled countertops. What's the point in even spending money on that? You might as well have left it and saved yourself a few bucks and some hardwork. Instead, replace these items with good products like wood cabinets, butcher block countertops, and subway tile. Don't bother with fancy items like marble and mahogany – the buyer may want to put their own stamp on things and won't pay your asking price.
2. But not too low cost – no one likes an obvious “flip”
Ask yourself, would you want to live and raise your children in a house that had been filled with lowgrade materials so its owner could make a quick buck? Exactly. And always remember to keep the essential charm and character of the house. Please don't go ripping out trim work and stain glass so the house your selling looks like a suburban Nevada track home.
3. Keep it neutral
No matter HOW many times I yell (outloud) at the dumbfounded couple on House Hunters “YOU CAN PAINT IT” it seems that a lot of people just cannot look past paint color, and you don't want the sale of your house to be predicated on someone using their imagination – so keep things neutral. Pale greys and clean whites for the walls (please, I beg of you, stay away from that kraft paper beige in every new house), bedding and bath textiles that exude hotel crispness, and granite without too much movement. Brushed nickel and stainless steel are your friends when replacing hardware. And while it seems pretty obvious to stay away from anything too trendy, it doesn't hurt to throw in a couple OF things that people are looking for right now: quartz countertops, subway tile, and shaker cabinets.
4. Make obvious updates
There are just certain aspects of the house that are worth updating, and they include: countertops, tile, vanities, flooring, and lighting. A lot of houses were built without much overhead lighting, so consider adding recessed lighting (on a dimmer), and please get rid of the boob lights – loved only by 13 year old boys. Some people hate carpet with a passion, some like it in bedrooms but if you do have carpet in your home it is highly advisable to replace it before you sell. If you want to get rid of carpet, there are some nice laminate and vinyls that look like wood out there – just make sure to get something without too much of a repeated pattern.
- Hire a Pro: consider hiring a pro to take a look at your home and offer advice. One morning spent with a home inspector, a real estate agent or a local designer can give you insight into what potential buyers will see when they look at your home — and can save you money in the long run.
- Paint: keep interior and exterior colors neutral and contemporary. Consider your neighborhood when selecting colors and go with a complementary color for your street and landscape.
- Upgrade your lighting to recessed LED or energy efficient fixtures that are dimmable so you can set the mood when showing the house.
- Curb appeal speaks volumes - plant easy to care for greenery such as succulents, lavender, teacup roses, oleander, or moss.
- Focus on your kitchen and bathrooms but don’t overspend. Keep your selections neutral and contemporary.
- Upgrade exterior doors
- Remove all eye sores such as dated wallpaper - you know, that “fun" wallpaper border you put in to add some flair back in the day. Remove old carpet and tacky lighting.
- Build in extra storage if you have it in the budget.
Stay away from:
- Home office build outs
- Over-remodeling - remember not everyone shares your taste
- Painting with loud colors