A Reality Check Forbes Real Estate Council Gina Michelle Forbes Councils Forbes Real Estate Council CommunityVoice Real Estate POST WRITTEN BY Gina Michelle Estate Director at The Agency.
In real estate, we all know that design is important. But the question I hear is always, “How important is it really?”
My answer is straightforward: It is so important that I believe you should always consult with a real estate agent who specializes in design before renovating your home to put it on the market. Even after 15 years, I still get the occasional funny look after telling someone that, but it’s absolutely true — and now more than ever!
Market preferences and design trends shift over time, and your home probably wasn’t built yesterday. While renovations can go a long way toward improving your home’s value, it’s also very easy to waste money on outdated colors or trends that aren’t going to move the needle and actually sell your home.
Throughout my career, I’ve visited countless DIY-renovated houses. In a majority of these cases, I find that homeowners are very proud of the renovations they’ve done and believe these renovations will add substantial value. In reality, the renovations are often not ones that will actually help maximize their sales price. Thus, sadly for the homeowners, that means the money they spent was really just dollars down the drain.
With that in mind, here are four common “owner-instigated” renovations you should avoid when readying your home to sell.
1. Mismatched Flooring
It’s easy to get used to incongruent flooring when you’ve been living in your home awhile, but most buyers today want flooring to be uniform. Unfortunately, this is probably the issue I see most frequently.
As I mentioned, trends change over time. For example, some older homes still have original wood floors, and the owner will try to preserve the old wood in one room and put another flooring type elsewhere. Other times, homeowners may try to save costs by only replacing the floors in one part of the home.
Historic preservation is one thing, and cost cutting is another — but selling a home is a different thing entirely. When you’re renovating your home to sell, you want to appeal to the largest mass of people, and the best way to achieve that is with one flooring style.
2. Loud, Busy Or Overly Colorful Walls
If you’re an interior designer and this is your forte, go ahead and skip to No. 3. Otherwise, please step away from the loud wall patterns and accent walls!
When you’re renovating to sell certain luxury homes, that amazing wallpaper or bright accent wall might impress and be a positive selling motivator. But you need to first make sure to consider the many factors at play. It must be done correctly, in the right market, at the right price point and for the right buyers.
For the majority of buyers, a neutral, classy palette will be the best bet. Neutral tones give your buyer plenty of upside but no downside. If they want to paint, they can. But they don’t have to worry about needing to paint over a color they don’t like.
3. Partial Room Renovations
You know what I call a beautiful, brand new marble countertop installed onto scratched, old cabinets that can’t be saved or repainted? A cost-saving measure gone very, very wrong.
When a homeowner is renovating to sell, sometimes they’ll pick the “worst thing” they can see in a room, such as the countertop, and try to eliminate it. However, those beautiful marble countertops may not be salvageable when the new buyer inevitably changes the cabinets. And trust me: They’ll notice the cabinets.
Keep your buyer in mind before you start a partial renovation. It’s almost always better to save up or spend money on a different room than it is to create a space that’s an unwelcome combination of new and old.
4. DIY Installations
Above all else, the best thing you can do to ensure your renovations are high quality is to get realistic about your abilities. Unless you’re a general contractor who is licensed to [insert whatever you are planning to remodel here], don’t do it.
Even seemingly “simple” renovations or installations can lead to a host of issues. For example, marble countertops need to be sealed, but so do most surfaces in the kitchen. Did you know that? If not, missing this small detail could translate to big money left off the table.
Overlook any number of steps, and you may cost yourself down the line. Never underestimate your potential for causing issues in inspections, which can often be substantial enough to bring the whole sale into jeopardy.
Bottom Line: Renovate Right
It’s my experience that beautiful, strategic renovations can go a long way toward making your property stand out and earn its maximum value. But if you’re looking to maximize your ROI and sell quickly, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
I encourage any homeowner beginning on the path of DIY home renovations to consult with a real estate agent who specializes in design before renovating a home to put it on the market. By utilizing their expertise and simply avoiding these common mistakes, your pre-sale renovations will stand out above most in your area and translate into real value when you sell. And isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?