If I wrote you a check for $3,000 or maybe even $5,000, would you consider doing a few minor cosmetic repairs before you put your house up for sale? If you answered “Yes”, then keep reading. If you answered “No”, then something other than money is more important in the sale of your home. And yes, that does happen with a few sellers.
Ok, back to the check. Most homeowners do not realize that by doing the right cosmetic repairs not only will they sell their home quicker, but also increase their bottom line. But, which cosmetic repairs are the right repairs?
Having been in the real estate business for a long time, I have kept a “buyer file” of dislikes in my head. Dislikes usually start with the sentence “I like this, but…” or “…, but this is going to be expensive to fix.” If you want to sell your house for more money, you have to overcome as many of those buyer “buts” as you can without over-improving your house.
Most sellers don’t realize that buyers are coming into the home to rule it out. Yes, they are looking for a way NOT to put your home on their short list. And how do they do that? Well, for instance, buyers are looking for issues they do not want to fix and eliminating homes that are just plain ugly. There is nothing wrong with ugly. In fact, I tell my buyers there is money in ugly. Ugly houses are cheaper to buy. As a seller, unless money or time aren’t a motivating factor, it isn’t what you want to hear.
So, how do you fix ugly? Let’s talk about wallpaper. It may not seem like a big deal to keep that floral or plaid wallpaper that has been there for over twenty years, but it is. True, most buyers will come in and personalize the home regardless. However, your home needs to tell a story and it shouldn’t be from That 70’s Show.
I always take a look at the multiple listing services (MLS) to see what is listed for sale, especially when I am working on putting a house on the market. While perusing the MLS I am overcome by photos of homes draped in wallpaper, on walls and even on ceilings! Then, I check to see how long these homes have been on the market. I am not surprised to see stagnant wallpapered homes listed for over 100 days when the average days on the market for that neighborhood is much, much shorter.
What’s wrong with wallpaper? After all, it’s just wallpaper. Have you ever removed wallpaper? Unfortunately, I have done that laborious work in my mother’s home as well as at my sister’s. No matter what you use, it is just hard to remove. Buyers know this and want to be compensated if they have to remove it themselves. Which means, it is going to take a “special buyer” who wants a lower price on your home. “Special buyers” equate to longer time on the market and less money for you. Why? Because you just reduced the number of willing and able buyers.
Buyers usually overestimate costs of repairs, especially if they are first-time home buyers. This just seems to be a rule of thumb. Throughout my time selling homes, if a repair costs X, buyers see it as 2X. Not sure why that is, I don’t think it has to do with lack of experience either. Perhaps, in a buyer’s mind, they not only figure the cost of a repair but the hassle factor too.
This wallpaper conversation brings me back to a townhouse I listed a few years ago in a highly popular neighborhood. I was selling homes in this neighborhood in less than 5 days. I lived in the same neighborhood and listed the majority of the homes in the area.
This particular home was owned by a couple who were in their late eighties and nineties. Their home had that dark, grassy wallpaper, partially peeling off in the 2 story stairwell and throughout the upstairs hallway. Now, I knew they didn’t want to remove the wallpaper themselves. But, I have relationships with painters and handyman services who could do the work at an affordable rate. The homeowners wouldn’t hear of removing that wallpaper despite my feedback and that from 20+ buyers who looked at the house.
If your house has had 20 qualified buyers view it and you didn’t receive any offers, or you had low-ball offers, you really need to take a look at your strategy. Is my house overpriced or is it ugly? (It could be both things) Nobody wants to call their baby ugly, but sometimes you just have to face the facts and deal with it. If you want to sell your ugly house with bad wallpaper, the only way to fix it is with the price. You must lower your price.
I finally sold that grassy, bleak wallpapered townhome in a little over 90 days and for $10,000 less (than a non-wallpapered home).
I know the buyers that purchased the townhome. I stopped by to see how things were coming along and don’t you know that taking down that wallpaper was a feat all by itself? The buyers ended up having to sand the walls down, and repair the drywall. I asked them, if I wrote you a $10,000 check, would you deal with the wallpaper all over again? Well, that’s what it was worth. We all just laughed, but knew it was true.
Sandy Williams is a licensed Broker Associate with EXP Realty and sells in the Sarasota area. With over 22 years of experience, Sandy and her team have sold over 2,100 homes. Nationally recognized. Sandy is originally from the Midwest but calls Lakewood Ranch her home.
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