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Regional Spotlight: When You’re Fixin’ to Sell Your Home

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RISMEDIA, July 4, 2007—(MCT)—As summer heats up, so does Weld County’s housing market. During the summer months, more homes are put up for sale and more buyers are searching for a new place to live.

But Weld home sellers might have to work a bit harder this summer than in years past to attract buyers. In Greeley, there is about a nine-month supply of homes on the market. Nationally, a balanced market is about a six-month supply, which means there’s a lot of competition out there for home sellers.

To get the edge, and the desired price, sellers need to think about how they can spruce up their homes to attract potential buyers, said Lynn Begin, owner and principal designer for A Beautiful Home Interiors, a Greeley-based interior design company that also helps prepare homes to sell.

Experts warn that there’s a fine line when it comes to how much money sellers should spend on their homes to prepare them for sale. Do nothing and sellers might have a hard time attracting buyers. Spend too much and sellers won’t recoup their expenses.

“We live in Greeley,” Begin said. “It’s a very conservative spending atmosphere. People can’t afford to pull out all of the stops in staging a home as far as buying new furniture and accessories.”

How much is too much?

Statistics show that the best bang for your remodeling buck comes from bathroom and kitchen renovations. According to a 2006 survey by Remodeling Magazine, a bathroom remodel that costs about $13,000 could get the seller about an extra $11,000 in the house — recouping about 85%.

Other renovations may not allow the seller to recoup as much. For example, according to the study, the addition of a sunroom to the house would only recoup about 66% of the additional cost.

But in a tight market, such as Greeley’s, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money remodeling a home just to sell it. Home prices still aren’t appreciating much in Weld — in some areas they are even depreciating — so even if remodeling makes your home prettier to buyers, it still might not fetch you the price you had hoped for.

“You have to weigh what you are willing to sell your house for versus how much you are willing to improve it,” said Lou Manfredini, a Chicago-based real estate developer who is also spokesman for Ace Hardware. “You might not be moving the needle, you will be trading dollars to do it.”

In a tight market, he suggests “freshening up” a house instead of completing costly renovations.

“I would spend $1,000- $2,000 maximum for the freshening up,” he said. “If you start investing $4,000- $7,000, it’s not going to move the needle.”

Low-cost changes

Instead of the high-priced renovations, Begin and Manfredini suggest a variety of low-cost options to help spruce up a home.

Add a new coat of paint inside and outside if needed. A simple paint job can do worlds of good to improve the look of your house, Begin said. She suggests more neutral colors.

“Neutral colors give the illusion of more space,” Begin said. “Dark colors usually make a room feel smaller.”

– Spruce up the kitchen and bathroom. Instead of high-cost remodeling, simple changes in the kitchen and bathroom can go a long way, Begin says. Install modern-looking faucets and new handles and knobs on cabinets and drawers.

“Making these things more up-do-date will create a whole new look,” she said.

– Improve the “curb appeal” of your home by making the front look as welcoming as possible. Make sure the lawn looks great, plant a few flowers and replace anything unsightly such as an old mailbox. Make the front door look welcoming, perhaps with an updated doorknob.

“The first thing they will touch is the front door knob,” Manfredini said.

– Complete all of those little problems that you have probably been living with for years. All of those little idiosyncrasies in a house like drawers that stick or banisters that are loose can add up for potential buyers, Manfredini said.

“Remember that a well-maintained home always sells,” he added.

– De-clutter the house. Excess furniture and knick-knacks often can make a home feel smaller than it really is. Before selling, you probably also want to take down a lot of personal items so buyers can envision their own lives in the home.

“If you collect Precious Moments statues, perfect,” Manfredini said. “But you don’t need 1,000 in the house.”

– Make sure the carpets look great. Rent a steam cleaner or hire a professional, but make sure carpets look as if they are in tip-top shape when the seller comes by. If worst comes to worse, they may need to be replaced, she said.

“If you have stains that won’t come up and the carpets are worn, it does make a big impression to a potential client. If you don’t replace them, they will try to whack off a big chunk of the price in negotiation,” she said. “A lot of people can probably replace their carpets for less than they think they can.”

A lot of these low-cost changes can go a long way when considering selling a home, Manfredini said. Still, he warns, don’t over-do it. Sellers should probably save much of the time and effort of renovations on a home they plan to live in for awhile, not on a place they plan on getting rid of.

“To dump that money into it and flip it makes no sense,” Manfredini said. ” You could negotiate the price and not deal with the mess.”

Quick tips to make your home appeal to buyers

– Add updated faucets and kitchen knobs in your bathroom and kitchen. These simple things can change the whole look of the room.

– Put flowers in front of the house, especially near the front door. Add a pot of bright flowers at the doorstep. The color red tends to be appealing to buyers.

–Bake fresh bread or chocolate chip cookies before you have an open house. This may sound crazy but the smell gives the house a homey-feeling that appeals to buyers.

Source: Lynn Begin, owner and principal designer of A Beautiful Home Interiors.

How much will you get back for your remodeling investment?

Job cost–Resale value % cost recouped

Basement remodel $56,724 $44,685 78.8%
Bathroom remodel $12,918 $10,970 84.9%
Deck addition $14,728 $11,307 76.8%
Major Kitchen Remodel $54,241 $43,603 80.4%
Minor Kitchen Remodel $17,928 $15,278 85.2%
Sunroom Addition $49,551 $32,854 66.3%
–Reflects national averages

Source: 2006 Remodeling Magazine Cost Vs. Value Report

Copyright © 2007, Greeley Tribune, Colo.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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