Before putting a home up for sale in Seattle, many home owners strategize about how to increase the value of their property. In order to sell your home for top dollar, it’s important that it looks lovely – both in photos and in person – when potential buyers come and get a “first impression.” From the appearance of the landscaping and exterior, which is called “curb appeal” – to the look and the smell of the interior… (Yes, I said it – many homes have a unique odor that only hits unfamiliar visitors!) – your home must show at it’s best.
But, if you are limited on time and/or money, it can be hard to know where to invest in improving your home to get it ready to sell, and also maximizing your ROI – return on investment.
If you intend to sell your Lake Forest Park, WA home, you’re likely considering some upgrades to increase the value. After all, everyone wants to sell at the best price possible in order to make a profit. Sure, you could do a major kitchen remodel to increase your home’s value by tens of thousands of dollars. But would that major remodel yield a good return on money invested? When we meet to discuss your home, we can evaluate these issues on a case-by-case basis, but in general, here are some good guidelines to follow.
You’re probably better off instead to perform inexpensive upgrades that will both increase value and yield a good ROI. Here, then, are five inexpensive upgrades you can do to increase the value of your Lake Forest Park, WA home for sale.
Home Upgrade Tip #1. Paint Interior Walls
Painting just may be the least expensive, most effective, and quickest way to increase the value of your Lake Forest Park, WA home. It really doesn’t cost much and just takes some time and a little elbow grease. If you hire it out, it could be done in just a day or two.
The last investment home I purchased had a pink bedroom and a turquoise bathroom. My son’s room is sage green and scuffed up by his desk chair, a picture that fell off the wall one time, and other issues. There’s nothing wrong with these things. Everyone likes to live with a little color …. everyone, that is except the buyers! When we are selling or leasing a home, we like it to have a neutral palette and a fresh coat of paint. When the furniture’s there, you don’t notice the wear and tear on your walls, but when you start cleaning up and clearing out, all those things become much more apparent!
Smart Ways To Choose Paint Color: When you are repainting, make make sure you choose the right colors. Unless you’re an interior designer by trade, avoid the vibrant “accent walls” and stick with the builder-standard colors that won’t shock anyone.
Your best bet is to avoid bright, wild colors and stick instead to neutral shades because they will appeal to a greater number of potential buyers. However, not just any neutral shade will do. Think off white, cream or tan. White trim, or natural wood trim can look very nice.
A Zillow study found that it’s best to steer away from colors such as dark brown and terracotta when it comes to interior paint colors. If you do choose to use these colors for the interior, your home might sell for . . . less . . . Home buyers generally don’t care for these colors. Here in the pacific northwest, we struggle with our fair share of gray rainy days. When it’s gloomy outside, the rooms will look lighter inside if the paint is not too dark.
Home Upgrade Tip #2. Clean and De-Clutter
Since you’re going to have to move out all your stuff ANYWAY, when you move… you might as well start early and get the packing boxes going NOW! As you go room-by-room, you may find that you’ve accumulated paper, books, unfinished projects, and so on that you don’t want to take with you to your new home. Before putting your home on the market is a great time to do a clean sweep. Figure out what’s trash, what you can donate and what you want to save and take with you to your new home. You may even be able to sell some furniture or collectors items (as well as all the books! – my secret preferred-hoarding-item) on ebay, amazon.com, the OfferUp App or a local consignment store. Habitat Restore, Goodwill, and Value Village and Facebook “Buy Nothing” groups are other great places to donate furniture and/or clothing and housewares. Who knew throwing things away could increase the value of your home!
If you don’t already know about Marie Kondo (she has a show on Netflix and she is tiny and super-cute and super-sweet!), she is a Japanese sensation! She started as a consultant helping people de-clutter in their tiny Japanese homes, and wrote a book about her process, called The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up! Once you go through her whole cleaning process, you may find your house is much bigger than you thought and you don’t need to move after all!
If you DO still want to move, consider storing the packing boxes – full of things you want to take but don’t need until after you’ve moved- in the garage, basement, attic or in a storage unit offsite so that you can get them out of the house and improve how the house shows. That leads to an increase in value on sale day!
The good news about this tip is that it costs almost nothing (just time and effort) and you’d have to do it anyway, when you sell… Also, you’d be surprised how many people don’t go through this effort… your home will upstage them in a heartbeat!
In fact, one study found that “deep cleaning and decluttering can add more than $4,000 to a home’s resale value, on average.” Just make sure not only to clean and de-clutter the larger more visible areas, but also to go through all the drawers, closets, and other storage areas, including the garage. And then keep your home clean until it sells. (That’s the hard part, now isn’t it?)
Home Upgrade Tip #3. Replace Exterior Doors
First impressions are critical, and one of the first things potential buyers see is your front entry door. So replacing exterior doors, particularly the front door, is a great way to increase the value of your Lake Forest Park, WA home.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of rainy damp weather. This can be especially hard on doors that are exposed to the wind and rain and the wood can be damaged when they soak in moisture.
If your front door is in good shape, sometimes a new coat of paint is all you need here. And this is one place where you don’t have to go with a neutral tan. Many “professionally color designed” homes feature a bright door that offers a cheerful pop of color. Look around your neighborhood and see what you like – red, turquoise, yellow? Just make sure the look is harmonious with the rest of the home and neighborhood – this is easy to do wrong, so when it doubt, reign it in.
Don’t forget to take a critical look at your garage door. I often see water damage here where the doors have sucked up water from the driveway causing swelling and paint peeling along the lower half.
The front of the home is the first thing you, your neighbors and prospective buyers will see . . . Garage doors often take up the most amount of space on the front of your home, so installing a modern glass panel door or a rustic wood door will dramatically improve your home’s appearance. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Study, replacing a garage door recoups 97.5 percent of the cost of the project.” Take this with a grain of salt, though, and consider the orientation of your garage door toward the street, and how it compares to the look of the rest of your home. You don’t want to invest in a new garage door if it stops you from replacing the leaky roof or cleaning the mildew off all your siding.
Home Upgrade Tip #4. Improve Curb Appeal
Maybe the best way to make a great first impression is to improve curb appeal. This means taking a look at your home’s appearance from the street and the driveway and optimizing it for the “first look” to be a winner.
Now, if you’re in Lake Forest Park, you may have a lawn that’s more moss than grass, a wooded lot with trees shading everything, a steep hilly slope, or other landscaping challenges to work with. That being said, you want to look around and see what you can do to make your yard neat and tidy (mow the lawn, blow the leaves, weed the beds, etc.), your exterior look clean (sweep the cobwebs, make sure the lightbulbs work, and get the mildew off the siding), and add some color where you can. If your beautiful rhodedendrons are not in season, grab some flowering annuals and brightly colored plastic pots at home depot and put them by your front door or on the back patio.
Outdoor lighting is very important in the winter. Make the exterior look safe and inviting and ensure that everything is well-lit, especially in the darker half of the year where buyers may becoming to look at your house after work in the dark. Consider adding exterior lighting if your driveway or path is hard to navigate. You don’t want people to feel like they’re trick-or-treating at a haunted house. They are out in the pitch-black driveway, not safe in the garage with the automatic lights.
A weekend cleaning up the yard is all it should take – when in doubt, just top everything that doesn’t look good with a thick layer of mulch! If the work is beyond your capacity, hiring a landscaper to clean up good be a very good investment to increase the value of your Seattle home. But, again, this doesn’t have to be expensive. If you have the time, inclination, and a little skill, you can do it yourself.
One 2019 survey of real estate agents “found that the exterior of your home may play a bigger role in your home’s value than you think. The survey showed that 76 percent of top real estate agents nationwide agreed that improving curb appeal is the No.1 step a homeowner can take to boost their home’s marketability. According to their figures, basic lawn care like cutting the grass, fertilization treatments and weed control can add $1,000 on its own.”
Often, when pictures of your home are posted in the MLS (that’s the multiple listing service – a proprietary database that stores and distributes housing data for real estate agents) and in other marketing, the exterior shot of the home is the first picture people see. It’s got to look great to “sell” buyers on the idea of “clicking” for more information or coming out to visit the home.
Home Upgrade Tip #5. Improve Energy Efficiency
Cash in on “going green!” and increase the value of your home. Since so many Seattle area home buyers are environmentally conscious today, improving energy efficiency can go a long way toward increasing the value of your market_city] home. And it doesn’t have to be a major and expensive upgrade like installing a new HVAC system or solar panels. There are, instead, many smaller, inexpensive things you can do to increase the value of the home by increasing energy efficiency at minimal expense.
You might consider, for example, installing a smart thermostat. “The right smart thermostat will allow a homeowner to control their home’s climate from anywhere, giving them the power to manage energy costs regardless of whether they are sitting on the couch or away on vacation . . . Such investments in home tech – particularly when connected to the HVAC, which is the largest mechanical system in the home – provide a strong selling point and highlight the home’s overall comfort, functionality, energy efficiency, and convenience.”
You could also install new energy-efficient windows, which has a greater cost yet still yields a good ROI. Or improving the energy efficiency of windows could be as simple as caulking around them. Good maintenance and periodic upgrades will increase the value of your home as well as it’s longevity.
Another idea is to take a look at the insulation in your attic, this often loses loft over time, and building standards change over time, meaning newer homes will often be better-insulated than many of the older homes we have here in Lake Forest Park, WA.
If you have any energy-efficient appliances, have done an “energy audit” with Puget Sound Energy, or have reason to believe your home is especially “green,” be sure to share this with me when we talk so we can include it in your marketing materials!
Talk to Your Local Agent
If you really want to do all the inexpensive things you can to increase the value of your Seattle home, talk to your local real estate agent to get even more ideas. What buyers expect in Lake Forest Park can be quite different than what they’re looking for in Greenlake and Ballard, and again different than what you get in Lynnwood and Everett. That’s why you need to lean on the expertise of your Seattle agent. Find out today how our agents can help you make your home worth more.