I’m Reconsidering the Advice I’ve Given About What to Fix or Improve Before Listing Your Home  

Recent experience with my listings has caused me to rethink recommendations I’ve made in the past about fixing up a home before putting it on the market.

Despite a moderating seller’s market, two recent listings went under contract for way above their listing prices, and I think it was because of the effort and money that was expended on dressing them up for sale.

In previous columns I have said you don’t need to do much to sell a home. Only fix “eyesores,” I wrote.  If the carpet is old but not damaged or rippled, just have it professionally cleaned, don’t replace it.

My most recent seller, however, spent significant time and money dressing up their home before putting it on the market, and I think it paid off. The home was listed at what the comparable sales suggested it should sell for, but it attracted 12 offers and ended up going under contract in five days for 20 percent over the listing price. 

The new carpeting was well chosen and beautifully installed. The seller followed our stager’s advice to the letter. The deck was re-stained. The concrete flatwork which had settled was mud-jacked. Windows were washed and screens labeled and put away. I asked the seller to describe all they had done over several months, and it’s super-instructive. Here’s a link to what they wrote.

Another effort — by me — really paid off, too.  The narrated video tour with drone video which we put on YouTube and linked to the MLS and our website was so effective in showing off the home that a buyer from the East Coast submitted the winning offer without seeing it in person. That’s because our videos simulate an actual showing, starting out front (just like a real showing) and going through the home and into the backyard, narrating all the time.

As I wrote in a previous column, we are amazed that more agents don’t shoot live action narrated videos. They’re easy to do once you get the knack of it, and they cost nothing to create and edit if the listing agent does it himself.  And who better than the listing agent to “show” a listing?

Come on, dear colleagues, get with the program. It can pay off for you as it pays of for Golden Real Estate agents week after week!

Want to Boost Your Home’s Appeal? What You Should and Shouldn’t Spend Money on

With our ongoing seller’s market in which right-priced homes sell quickly and often for more than the listing price, do you really need to beautify your home to help it sell better?

The short answer is “Yes.” But don’t get carried away. The agents at Golden Real Estate like to tell sellers that they should only address certain cosmetic issues and what we call “eyesores.” Investing in popular big-dollar improvements or updates isn’t likely to return you more than they cost to implement.

Let’s talk cosmetic fixes first. For sure, you’ll want to wash the windows and clean your window wells. In the process, you’ll be removing the window screens.  Clean and label those screens and store them in your basement or garage. Don’t reinstall them until you are under contract. They detract from the views out your windows even if the screens themselves are clean.

 Curb appeal (aka first impression) is, of course, highly important. If you have a lawn, you can make it greener pretty quickly with one or two Lawn Doctor visits. If your bushes or trees are overgrown, consider having them trimmed. How does your front porch look? If it’s looking worn, an investment in fresh paint or stain will pay dividends. Ditto for that wooden deck in the back.

Speaking of the wooden porch and deck, let’s move on to a discussion of eyesores. An “eyesore” is anything that draws negative attention by the prospective buyer. Rotted and/or broken boards on your porch or deck definitely fit our definition of an eyesore!

Inside your home, there are several potential eyesores that I advise sellers to address. Let’s look at walls, floors, windows and countertops.

If there is damage to the walls, fix it. Our handyman (available only to clients) is an expert at drywall repair, including matching texture. Touch-up and repainting may be called for. Our free staging consultant may advise you specifically about your walls. My current seller in Golden thought their red kitchen should be repainted to a neutral color. I said no, and we still had a bidding war and went under contract in 5 days for $136,000 over asking price.

Plush and berber carpeting in good condition does not need to be replaced, but if there are ripples in it, it should be stretched, which is an easy and affordable fix. Older shag carpets should, in most cases, be replaced. Wall-to-wall carpeting is one of the more affordable improvements.

If the carpeting is covering hardwood floors in good condition, I’d suggest removing the carpet and refinishing the hardwood if it needs it. Hardwood floors that are already exposed but noticeably worn should also be refinished.

Is there hardwood under that old wall-to-wall carpeting? One way to find out is to pull up the far corner of the carpet in a closet. You can push the carpet back down onto the tack strip and no one will be able to tell you had pulled it up. If you have forced air heating vents in the carpet, lift up the vent grate and you’ll be able to see whether there’s hardwood underneath.

If you have old single-pane windows, it’s tempting to replace them, and that might be a good strategy in a buyer’s market, but not in our current seller’s market. In this market, people will buy a home with old windows if it is priced right. I’d want to see them in person before making a final suggestion.

What about countertops?  Replacing an old Formica countertops with slab granite, Corian, Silestone, concrete or other popular materials would be very expensive, and I don’t recommend it unless the Formica is chipped or scarred and therefore an “eyesore.” There’s a company Granite Transformations (www.GraniteTransformations.com) that does a remarkable job of covering an existing countertop in place with a granite-based slurry that makes it look like slab granite. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen homes with their work and was quite impressed.

Window coverings are another cheap fix that can make a big difference. I recently installed cellular blinds I purchased at Home Depot which have no strings — just push up or pull down. You have probably seen them and love them as Rita and I do.  They are cut to width (I suggest 1/2 inch narrower than the opening) and come in different lengths. Prices are quite reasonable, and I installed eight of them in my house in just an hour or so with nothing more than an electric screw driver.

Bathrooms offer some potential dressing up. First of all, clean the grout in your tub/shower. Consider a new shower curtain. Other suggestions might arise from a personal visit.

One of my favorite affordable improvements in my current home and the one before was to install sun tunnels in dark areas such as a windowless garage or laundry room, or that dark corridor in the middle of your house. A brand name you’ve probably heard of is Solatube, but we purchased Velux sun tunnels for our houses. They come in 10, 14 and 22-inch diameters because the joists in your ceiling and roof are either 12, 16 or 24 inches on center. The cost fully installed for ours was well under $1,000 each — so much better and less prone to leakage or hail damage than a rectangular skylight. Look into installing sun tunnels for your own pleasure, not just to brighten up your home for selling. The more light you can bring into your home the more appealing it will be.

My broker associates and I are happy to walk through your house with you, even if you aren’t immediately ready to sell your home, to make suggestions regarding things to fix or leave alone. Call 303-302-3636 to be connected with any of us. Call me or one of them for a free consultation.

What Should You Fix or Improve Before Putting Your Home on the Market?

One of the most common questions we are asked during our first meetings with prospective sellers is, “What should I fix or improve before I put my home on the market?” I’ve written about this topic before, but the subject is worth revisiting, given the current market.

My advice has always been that you should only fix the “eyesores” and not make many of the repairs or improvements that you might make in a more balanced market.

So, what’s an eyesore? Simply put, an eyesore is something that draws negative attention from a buyer. But some eyesores are more important than others — specifically ones which help form a buyer’s first impression of your home.

In other words, your front yard, the front façade, your porch, front door and the first few rooms a buyer sees are more important than the condition of inner rooms or the basement. By the time buyers are deep inside your house, they either love it or they don’t, and if they love it, they’ll be more forgiving about a stain on the carpet or a loose railing that they see later in their visit. So definitely work on cleaning up your front yard, staining or repairing your front porch and front door (if it needs it), and address any eyesores inside the front door. If the paint on your siding or trim visible from the street is aged, dirty, or peeling, you’ll want to take care of that, too.

Further inside the house, fixing eyesores is still important, just not as important. New wall-to-wall carpeting is more affordable than refinishing hardwood flooring, but a wood floor that is in dire need of refinishing is definitely an eyesore. If a hardwood floor could use refinishing, but isn’t in dire need of it, I don’t recommend it. Re-staining a wood deck is an affordable task that eliminates the eyesore of a deck which sorely needs it.

Should you replace a Formica kitchen counter with slab granite, quartz or Corian? Not if the Formica is in good shape and is not hot pink. If it has peeling edges or burn scars, yes, replace it.

One of the smartest things you should do before putting your home on the market is to wash the windows inside and out. Since that requires removing window screens, I recommend washing and labeling your window screens and putting them in your garage or store room. The window screens can be reinstalled after you’re under contract and prior to inspection, because missing screens will definitely be an inspection issue.

When you invite one of us to see your home, you’ll want to know what fixes or improvements we suggest, and we will usually come down on the side of not making any repairs or improvements which aren’t necessary to get your home under contract.

The reason you don’t want to make unnecessary repairs or improvements — for example, replacing a 20-year-old furnace that works fine, or mitigating radon if a home test reveals it is needed — is that you need to retain those as bargaining chips.

Let’s say, for example, that your buyer’s inspection objection lists a dozen items including replacing the furnace and mitigating radon. You could agree to doing those two repairs but not the other ten items, and that would probably satisfy the buyer. If you’ve already replaced your furnace and mitigated radon, you don’t have those as bargaining chips and would have to address those other items.

Interior painting is another common issue. Let’s say your son painted his bedroom ceiling black, or your daughter has a cute mural with giraffes and trees covering one or two walls in her bedroom. Should your repaint those rooms? Maybe the black ceiling, but leave the mural — assuming it’s well done, of course!

These are merely general guidelines, and every house is different. My broker associates (below) and I are happy, of course, to meet with you in your home to discuss what to fix or not fix.

The best thing you can do before putting your home on the market is neither a fix nor an improvement. It’s decluttering. We all have too much stuff, don’t we? Some of it should be taken to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (using our free truck, of course!). Other items should be put in storage, and we can usually get our clients the first month free at a local mini-storage facility.

Once we’ve agreed on what to do, you may be concerned about how to pay for it. Our clients have access to our handyman at the client-only rate of $25/hour. For bigger repairs, we can help you with obtaining financing that could be paid off from your proceeds at closing. Ask one of our broker associates or me for details.

Some Practical Advice on Preparing Your Home to Show Its Best and Sell With Ease

Submitted by Suzie Wilson of HappierHome.net

Whether you’re moving because of a job, family expansion or retirement, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get to work if you want your property to appeal to the most buyers. Before you start packing, however, there are a few minor home improvements you should tackle, which will speed up the process and get you on the road.

Start with aesthetics

No matter how short a time you’ve lived in your home, there are likely lots of little things that you’ve learned to overlook. The vast majority of these will be minor aesthetic imperfections that are cheap and easy to rectify. ProfessionalStaging.com notes that buyers are on the lookout for issues and will notice every little crack, stain, or chipped tile. Here are a few DIY projects that will reduce the lived-in look of your home:

  • Replace moldy or damaged caulk in the bathtub and shower
  • Clean or stain grout in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Fill nail holes in the wall and gaps around the trim
  • Plant colorful flowers by the mailbox and entryway
  • Organize storage spaces (buyers love to look in closets, under the stairs, and in the garage and attic)
  • Paint rooms that don’t already have a neutral color scheme
  • Install functional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Pull weeds and add a layer of fresh mulch to flower beds
  • Repair brown spots on the lawn
  • Replace outdated bronze and brass doorknobs, handles, and drawer pulls

Manage major malfunctions

There are plenty of small things you can tackle on your own, but you’ll also need to invest time and money making sure there are no major defects that may derail your home sale at inspection time. These include:

  • Foundation problems (Homes.com estimates this can devalue your property by up to $100,000)
  • HVAC issues
  • Mold
  • Leaks in the roof/missing shingles
  • Major plumbing problems, such as a clogged mainline
  • Outdated electrical panel
  • Windows that won’t open up or lock
  • Musty/animal smell
  • Rotted wood behind walls – most likely in the kitchen or bath
  • Damp basement

Small issues won’t necessarily be deal-breaker for most of your buyers but the less work they have to do the more likely they will be to give your home a second look. Large issues such as a crumbling foundation may designate your home as a fixer-upper, which won’t attract “everyday” buyers who want to move in immediately.

What do buyers want?

Buyers in different demographics will seek out home features that appeal to their lifestyles. There are, however, a few universal want-list items you can play up in your listing to cast as wide a net as possible. According to American Home Shield, the features homebuyers want are:

  • Separate laundry room
  • Energy-efficient appliances and windows
  • Exterior lighting
  • Outdoor entertainment space
  • Ceiling fan
  • Full bathroom on the main level
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Proper insulation
  • Garage storage
  • Eat-in kitchen

When it’s time

Once you’ve completed these repairs and renovations, there are a few finishing touches that will put the icing on the cake and sweeten the deal for your buyers. First, you should declutter, so that buyers can see more of the house and less of what you own. Before you declutter, though, it’s a good idea to buy an air filter. Since digging through those items is going to stir up a lot of dust, it’s important to keep the air clean for you and home buyers. [Note: Golden Real Estate provides its sellers with a free staging consultation.]

After you declutter, deep clean the entire home and weed out any belongings or furniture that don’t look quite right. To get your home sparkling clean, spend a little money on a housekeeping service. For an average of $166 a visit in Golden, housekeepers can help you keep up with laundry, mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, and straightening. Just keep in mind that the more you request from the housekeeping service, the more you’ll ultimately pay for the privilege. 

Also, staging and investing in high-quality professional listing photos (a real estate photographer usually charges between $110 and $300 for a shoot, depending on your location) will give online searchers a reason to pay your house a visit.  [Note: Golden Real Estate pays for professional photography and shoots a narrated video tour for all its listings. See examples at www.GRElistings.com.]

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to choose the best listing agent. Interview multiple individuals and ask about their recent local sales history and how many current listings they manage. A good agent will encourage you to price your home competitively and will go above and beyond simply listing on the MLS to promote the property. [Call 303-525-1851 for a free market analysis by broker/owner Jim Smith.]

Click here for a list of all the free services which Golden Real Estate provides to its sellers.

Reader Asks: Should I Spend Money on Home Staging?

There are two kinds of home staging: 1) vacant home staging where you rent furniture and accessories; and 2) rearranging your furniture and other “stuff” to make the home show its best.

The jury is out on the former (which can cost a lot of money), but the latter is essential and doesn’t need to cost you anything. At Golden Real Estate, we provide staging consultations free to our sellers. One of our broker associates, David Dlugasch, is a Certified Home Stager®. Like all our associates, I can give general advice on staging your home, but I hire David to provide a full staging consultation free to my sellers.

Sellers Ask: Should I Wait Until Spring to Put My Home on the Market?

About this time of year I like to remind readers why winter can be the best time of year to put their home on the market.

First of all, there is less competition because, frankly, most sellers don’t know that homes sell well year-round. If your agent says you should wait until spring, get an agent who understands this!

Second, buyers continue to get alerts of new listings year-round.  You know this yourself if you’ve been looking at listings. Nowadays every serious home buyer has asked their agent to set up an MLS alert matching their search criteria, or done it themselves on Zillow, and these alerts are generated 24/7/365 — even on Christmas morning!

This is a change from years past, when buyers depended on their agent to monitor the market and find listings that matched their buyers’ needs and wants. No more! Buyers do their own searching, even if it’s on Zillow, and call their agent when they want to see a listing which appears to meet their needs and wants.

Third, you won’t be bothered by lookie-loos.  Only serious buyers, ready to make an offer, will be asking to see your home in the winter. The buyers who just like looking at other peoples’ homes are less inclined to go out at this time of year.

Fourth, you’ll have your agent’s and mortgage broker’s full attention.  With less traffic in the winter, these professionals can give you their undivided attention.  Others, including title officers and home inspectors, are also less busy in the winter, which is to your advantage.

Fifth, you can light your fireplace. I love going into a warm, cozy home when it’s cold outside. Unless your home is drafty and cold, this makes for great staging!  And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, it’s even better. I love the smell of a wood-burning fireplace, don’t you?  Also, put some cider on the stove, with cinnamon sticks in it and have a ladle and cups next to it with freshly baked cookies, and you’ve made my day! Your visitors will feel like they are in their new home!

Sixth, holiday decorations are good staging, too.  Most stagers will urge you to depersonalize your home, including removal of crucifixes or other religious symbols, but this is Colorado, and people of all religions enjoy our Christmas holiday decorations. Again, like the fireplace and hot cider, holiday decorations can add a welcoming, homey feeling to your home.

Remember, buyers need to move year round. The concept of selling during the children’s summer vacation may be valid for a limited segment of the population, but even in that case many families move locally, and the MLS allows us to set up searches based on school district or even specific elementary, middle or high school service areas. Other moves are triggered by job changes, health changes or seniors moving to be closer to grandchildren, and these needs arise year-round.

Call any of us at Golden Real Estate — our phone numbers are below — if you’d like a free market analysis of your home or for any other reason.

Jim Smith, Broker/Owner –  303-525-1851

Jim Swanson — 303-929-2727

Carrie Lovingier — 303-907-1278

Kristi Brunel — 303-525-2520

Chuck Brown — 303-885-7855

David Dlugasch — 303-908-4835

Andrew Lesko — 720-710-1000

Carol Milan — 720-982-4941

Before Putting Your Home on the Market, Take Care of the ‘Little’ Things!

I show a lot of homes to a lot of buyers each week, and I’m shocked at some of the conditions I see, many of which could have been taken care of at little or no cost. Here’s a list of the “Dirty Dozen.” Do any of them ring a bell for you?

1. Windows need washing. No home should be put on the market without washing the windows inside and out. I’ve seen homes with great views, but the dirty windows left a bigger impression than the views!

2. Screens are damaged. With our strong winds and sun, window screens don’t last forever. As they age, the damage from wind and sun really gets the attention of buyers, even more than those dirty windows. And replacing screen material is less expensive than you might think. I’ve taken mine to Ace Hardware and had them rescreened at low cost.

After rescreening your weather-beaten screens, I suggest removing and labeling them (with masking tape), and storing them in the basement or garage. Even if screens are not damaged, removing them is as effective as washing your windows.

3. The home is cluttered.  We all have too much “stuff” in our homes, so selling your home is a great time to thin out your possessions. Rita and I aren’t thinking of selling our home, but she’s on a decluttering kick, which I love and support!  Most things go to Goodwill or the Christian Action Guild or the Habitat ReStore. Others go on Nextdoor.com as giveaways or “for sale.” (On a personal note, call or email me if you’d like some great wooden shelves which cost $600 new but which we want to give away now that we have donated most of our books to a book drive.)

Some things, of course, go in the trash can or get added to our box truck the next time we do a dump run for a client.

5. The yard needs clean-up.  We all have bushes that need trimming or seasonal cutting back, or weeds in our gravel areas that need pulling or killing. This is especially important in the front yard, where they can make a bad first impression. If your yard needs a large-scale fall cleanup, I recommend the  Vietnamese family which performs that service for Rita and me.  It costs more, but it’s worth it!

6. Wall-to-wall carpeting needs stretching.  This is a task for which you need to hire a vendor , but nothing generates a bad impression quite like ripples in wall-to-wall carpeting.  It will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it’s money well spent.  If the carpet itself is old and worn and terribly out of style, consider replacing it. The few thousand dollars you spend has a good payback in that your home will actually sell instead of sitting on the market turning off visitors! We recommend buying neutral color berber carpet.

7. The home is dark.  A bright, well-lit home sells!  I applaud you for replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, but CFLs are obsolete now that LED bulbs are available and inexpensive.  Last week I went to Batteries + Bulbs, and they were having a special on 60-watt equivalent LEDs. I left with 12 LED soft-white bulbs (same shape as traditional bulbs) for $4! Even if you pay more at Lowe’s or Home Depot, go ahead and splurge. I replaced all my home bulbs with LEDs, including the can lights in my vaulted ceilings. LEDs last forever, so it’s nice to know I won’t have to pull out my 8-foot ladder again anytime soon!  Many LED bulbs are now dimmable, too, unlike CFLs.

CFLs take a while to reach their full brightness, but LEDs are instant on.  In my garage I’m replacing two 8-foot fluorescent fixtures (drawing 300 watts) with a couple 2’ x 2’ flush mount LED fixtures which draw 9.2 watts each and provide equivalent lighting. I splurged on a motion sensor, so every time I enter the garage, the lights turn on until five minutes after I leave. Sweet!

Also, open your drapes and shades to maximize sunlight.

8. There are too many personal things.  This is rule #1 of staging a home for sale. Your family pictures, snapshots and refrigerator notes may make your house a home for you, but they create a distraction for visitors. Take them down.

9. There’s too much furniture. I showed a home last Sunday where the furniture had been thinned — but it was crammed into the garage. We couldn’t even enter the garage. Looking through the door, my buyer muttered “small garage.” In fact it just looked small because it was so full. (This is a basic principle of staging — a full closet, book shelves or whatever conveys a lack of space, whereas a partially full closet, etc., conveys abundant space.)  The stuff that you know you’ll take with you could go in a storage unit or into a POD. For the rest, see item #3 above. Note: I know a storage place that gives the first month free without requiring a contract, if they have vacancies.

10. The toilet lids are open. Closing your toilet lids is easy! It’s good Feng Shui, too.

11. Plug-in odor devices are in use. Every time I see one of these, it makes me wonder what the seller is covering up. Smoke? Cat smell? The “pleasant” smell is also unpleasant to many, myself included, so why use them?

12. The alarm system is armed. Some showing instructions include disarming and re-arming an alarm system. Do you want buyers to think your street has a burglary problem? In most cases, it doesn’t, so why raise the question?

Remodeling Your Home to Help It Sell May Not Be the Moneywise Approach

Before putting your home on the market, it’s natural to ask for advice on what should be fixed or upgraded before doing so. Here’s how we re-spond when asked.

First, you need to know that every study we’ve seen shows that sellers almost never recoup 100% of the cost of remodeling, so you should only do so for your own enjoyment, years before you plan to sell. Don’t make updates expecting to get a higher price for your home..

Rita and I, or example, recently spent $40,000 to update our kitchen, and we love it! (It was done by Bonnie Kitchen Design in Golden, and we strongly recommend her!)  But that doesn’t mean our home increased its value and selling price by $40,000 or more. We made that improvement for our own enjoyment, just as we did when we spent $20,000 on our master bathroom several years ago.  Yes, it will increase the attractiveness of our home when we eventually sell it, but that will only be after years of happy enjoyment of those two improvements.

We’ll probably make additional improvements in coming years, but it will never be to dress up the home for sale. On top of not recovering the full expenditure upon sale, it’s a huge disruption of one’s life to engage in major renovations.

The most recent study I’ve read about cost vs. ROI (return on investment) was made by Remodeling magazine, as reported by RISmedia.

According to that report the 5 projects with the highest ROI in the mid-range cost category are:

Manufactured Stone Veneer (94.9%)

Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.5%)

Deck Addition (Wood) (75.6%)

Siding Replacement (75.6%)

Entry Door Replacement (Steel) (74.9%)

The 5 projects with the highest ROI in the upscale cost category are:

Garage Door Replacement (97.5%)

Window Replacement (Vinyl) (73.4%)

Grand Entrance (Fiberglass) (71.9%)

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8%)

Bathroom Remodel (60.2%)

Lastly, here are the 5 projects with the lowest ROI in the mid-range cost category:

Backyard Patio (55.2%)

Master Suite Addition (59.4%)

Bathroom Addition (60.6%)

Roofing Replacement (Metal) (60.9%)

Major Kitchen Remodel (62.1%)

Master Suite Addition (50.4%)

Bathroom Addition (58.1%)

Major Kitchen Remodel (59.7%)

Bathroom Remodel (60.2%)

Window Replacement (Wood) (70.8%)

So, clearly you should only remodel when it’s intended to be enjoyed by you for years to come. If you know you’ll be selling this year, we advise our clients as follows.

First, only make improvements that eliminate a defect or an issue which will turn off prospective buyers.  I call these “eyesores,” things that stand out like a sore thumb, and not things that are simply “dated” or out of tyle.

Here are some examples:

Do refinish hardwood floors that are seriously and obviously in need of refinishing.

Do replace carpeting that is seriously old, such as 1970’s shag carpeting, or carpeting that is seriously worn or stained. (Again, think “eyesore.”)

Do replace damaged countertops.

Do repair damaged walls and replace damaged doors that can’t be repaired.

Do replace those 1990’s glass-and-brass lighting fixtures. (They’re so unappealing that Habitat’s thrift store won’t accept them as donations!)

Do replace burned out light bulbs.

Do repaint (inside and out) where there is peeling or discolored paint.

Do replace rotted timbers on your deck, then power wash and re-stain or repaint as necessary.

Do improve curb appeal (always the first impression), including weeding and pruning and freshening the front door. (It’s true that red doors sell homes…)

Do have someone with “fresh eyes” walk through your house and identify other turn-offs. (Our stager performs that function.)

Do not replace undamaged countertops or bathroom fixtures just because they are “dated” — even those pastel colored bathtubs and sinks. (I tell buyers “You can’t buy these anymore!”)  The exception would be the toilets. A white chair height low-flow toilet can be replaced for a couple hundred dollars and installed by our handyman for $50 (but he only works for our clients).

Beyond the above advice, I tell my sellers to be strategic about major issues which they know need to be done. If these are likely to become inspection issues, don’t fix them prior to listing your home if they’re not the kind of eyesore which would deter a buyer from making an offer.

For example, I have a listing, currently under contract, which had damage to the concrete driveway. The seller was thinking he should repair it before putting the home on the market. We knew it would be an inspection issue, but by leaving it undone we could use it as a bargaining chip. Sure enough, we got under contract (well above listing price because of competing buyers), and the inspection demands included repairing the driveway. Because it was such a big expense, the buyer didn’t ask for a bunch of other repairs.  If the seller had fixed the concrete prior to listing the home, you can sure the buyer would have asked for those other repairs, but instead they were delighted that the seller agreed to pay for the concrete repair.

I have used the same strategy to save other sellers money on inspection items. For example, one seller knew that radon needed to be mitigated, but we knew that this issue (which we properly disclosed) would not deter buyers from competing for the home. Yes, it became an inspection demand, and the buyer was delighted that the seller agreed to mitigate it.

Your situation will be different, of course, and we are happy to meet with you in your home and discuss what’s needed and strategic to fix before listing. We consider such advice part of the free staging consultation we provide sellers.