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Do You Have to Make Upgrades to Sell a Home?

Sometimes you just have to sell your house, but it can be a bit more tricky and involved than selling an old painting on eBay.

(Believe it or not, it couldn’t be easier to find someone in the world willing to pay top dollar for an ugly painting!)

But what about your older home? Truth is, it just may not be a competitive sell in today’s market – and that’s not your fault.

Plus, there can be circumstances beyond your control:

  • You have taken ill and have to move in with people who can take care of you.
  • You need to upsize or downsize, and you can’t wait a year to sell.
  • You’ve inherited a home you need to sell.
  • You have a new job and have to move quickly.
  • After losing your job, you can no longer afford the mortgage payment.

Whatever the reason, you find yourself in desperate need of someone to buy your older house.

Relax. Like that questionable painting, your older home possibly has a buyer who sees potential where you don’t. Plus, the internet can help make it easier to find them.

You just have to know which upgrades you will need to make your house that much more attractive. Here are a few things to consider before putting out the For Sale sign:

Know Your Liabilities

You need to have reasonable expectations about your quick-sale property. There are some things you can’t change at any cost.

At a basic level, the house is what it is. You have heard something describe a house as having “good bones.” This implies that some houses have bad bones. And, there is nothing you can do about that.

You also can do nothing about the neighborhood. Many professional investors will not touch a house that is in a crime-ridden neighborhood.

There is also the challenge of being upside-down on your payment. In this case, there are a few options to consider if you have time on your side. If you don’t have time for other options, a short-sale can be a solution, freeing you of further obligation.

Being realistic about your liabilities will help keep you realistic about what kind of price you can expect.

As Little as Possible

Don’t be so quick to get started on the upgrades. You are selling your distressed property. You want to get as much as you can, for as little work as you can put in, and as quickly as possible.

The best thing for you to do is forget about repairs when dealing with a cash investor. They will build in the cost of repairs into the offer.

This is actually one of the best things about selling an older home – even a distressed property! Cash investors buy as-is. They know what they’re looking for. And they are fine with your home as is. There is no need to try to impress a cash investor. You can relax!

Remember that your priority is to get out of the house, and out from under the debt. Unless absolutely necessary, upgrades are a distraction. Avoid them when you can.

The Don’ts Are Just as Important as the Dos

Before doing any upgrading, you might want to start with a list of things you shouldn’t bother with. This list might include a few things that are meaningful to you, but not so much to the purchasing public.

That means that putting in that life-sized chess set in the back yard is probably a bad idea.

According to the experts, there are other upgrades you should absolutely avoid.

Painting a child-themed bedroom is just one of those fatal errors that seemed like a good idea at the time.

First of all, your child is going to outgrow Pokémon a lot faster than you think. Second, the kid that is due to inherit the room may have very different tastes. Finally, the people moving in may not even have kids, let alone kids that are the right age.

You will also want to avoid things like colored trim, textured walls, and too much landscaping, all for the same reason: It will be perceived as too much work.

Anyone who has ever tried to paint knows how difficult it is to paint trim. Sanding down textured walls can also be a pain.

Landscaping is good. Excessive landscaping is either laborious or expensive work. Take your pick. Both are turn-offs for perspective buyers.

Finally, there are hot tubs. Don’t do it. What you found romantic and exciting is what another person will find gross.

When it comes to upgrades, don’ts are just as important as dos.

Upgrades for All

In the same way that cupholders sell expensive cars, it’s the little things that sell houses. If you must upgrade, focus on the little things that everybody loves (and that won’t bust the budget).

Exterior lighting, bathroom exhaust fans, and ceiling fans are great places to start. These are small things that can make a house feel a lot more like home.

If you already have these features, throw a few dollars at fixing up your porch and gazebo. A fresh coat of paint may be all it takes to make those areas feel like an extension of the house.

A good porch is just a few upgrades away from being a sun room. And, a gazebo is a great place to entertain guests. These are areas that inspire the imagination of the perspective homeowner.

There are also more little touches that can make a house feel more finished and modern. Towel racks and a toilet paper holder in the bathroom goes a long way.

Knobs, handles, and pulls give a kitchen a feeling of completion.

Finally, if you are going to do something expensive, HGTV recommends you put the money into curb appeal.

All the upgrades you make to the inside of the house are meaningless if you don’t succeed in getting people to walk inside the house in the first place.

The way to do that is to make sure the outside of the house looks warm, inviting, clean, and ready for guests.

There’s no place like home until you get ready to sell it. So make sure you can unload it by being mindful of your liabilities, doing as little as possible, being aware of what upgrades not to make, and only doing those upgrades that are universally loved.

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