Last spring, I had a client list his boutique, one-bedroom condominium in the heart of Dupont Circle. My client, relocating for work, debated how to receive the most equity from his property, a home that included more than 50 stairs to enter and limited storage. Thus, my client pondered which improvements, both large and small, could be made to his property in order to achieve the highest sales price the market could offer him.
Yes, Washington, D.C. is a seller’s market with inventory always low compared to an influx of buyers. However, the value of a property cannot solely be determined by simple supply and demand of the market. Thus, sellers should be prepared to make a plan and set goals when listing their property in advance of putting it on the market. For example, some sellers primarily prioritize equity (and perhaps only) in selling their home; for others, the seller may need a quick close in order to remove a kick-out contingency on a future purchase. In both cases, sellers must make clear goals in the sale of their property.
It may seem surprising, but small-scale renovations may produce the biggest bang for your buck in selling your property. Deferred maintenance is common for all homeowners. After living in a property for years, normal wear and tear is common. However, the elements of the home that are often forgotten are many times the quickest fixes at a low cost for many sellers. For example, painting your home can often lead to a full return on investment if a property’s paint (either interior or exterior) is in disarray. In properties with highly taste-specific accent walls or paint displays, neutralizing tones is always a safe way to show your property.
Furthermore, great rates of return can be found in replacing old carpet for a neutral tone or with hardwood flooring, though the hardwood may raise cost slightly. Overall, small fixes to the aesthetics of a home, especially the paint and flooring, may lead to better overall value in selling a home. Additionally, if your home has common elements such as hallways or common entryways, consider updating these finishes for potential buyers to the condo or homeowners association.
Next, consider de-cluttering or staging more appropriately prior to listing your home. A grand living area may appear dense to some buyers if your furniture or tchotchkes obscure the bones of the room. For homeowners with limited storage (as with my past client), consider renting a storage unit and storing larger items before a move to a larger home or even contemplate throwing away unwanted items. The creation of space will always be more attractive to a buyer in allowing him or her to visualize how they will arrange their new home.
Of course, it is worth noting the large-scale projects when talking about selling. Buyers almost always look first at two places in a listing: kitchens and bathrooms. Thus, the greatest rate of return on major renovation can be found in these two areas. However, sellers do not always need to break the bank when renovating these areas; instead, think of maintenance to these areas as a “facelift” of sorts by painting, refinishing surfaces or maybe even upgrading appliances to the next model up in quality. Altogether, these improvements, both large and small, factor into the grand scheme of the housing market.
In the end of my client’s story, my client accepted an offer that included the highest sales price in his building’s history, despite having the drawback of several large staircases and lack of storage. The point of this anecdote is simple: Preparation is key for sellers who would like to achieve the highest sales price for their property. Setting goals and understanding the importance of cost versus value in renovation can be the key determinant in selling your property for the highest sales price.
Tim Savoy is a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Dupont Circle. Reach him at 202-400-0534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.