If you’ve retired, chances are you’ve considered selling your current house to move to a smaller home.
However, if you’re like most older adults, you’ve lived in the same home for years. The thought of going through the selling process and navigating those tricky waters can be a little intimidating. How do you know where to start? What needs to be done?
One thing that you can do now to help sell your house (either in the coming year or further down the road) is to make a few improvements that will increase its attractiveness to buyers and its value.
Home Improvement Idea #1: Paint
Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is an easy, effective project that many real estate agents recommend. The best part is that it’s low-cost—Time Money shares an estimate that it should only cost you “$200 to $300 per room to paint yourself, or $400 to $800 to hire a professional.”
Just keep in mind that your color choices matter, perhaps more than you think. Realtor.com offers these wall color tips for people looking to sell their homes:
Use neutral colors for walls when possible. It’s recommended that you save vibrant, saturated colors for your decor. Otherwise, you may overwhelm potential buyers.
Use blue and green colors for your palette. These are some of the most popular interior colors.
Avoid orange, black, and violet. Respondents to a survey by Better Homes and Gardens listed these colors as ones they were least likely to decorate with. If you use a lot of these colors, it may be hard for potential buyers to picture themselves living there.
Related: Making the Move: How to Stage a Home
Home Improvement Idea #2: Refresh the Kitchen
There’s a reason the kitchen is one of the most common home remodeling projects—it can really impress buyers.
Consumer Reports found that “a ‘modern/updated kitchen’ topped the list of ideal home features in [their] survey of millennials, registering as most important to more than a third of respondents.”
However, you don’t need to invest too much money into the kitchen (see below for more on cost versus value).
“For as little as $5,000, you should be able to add a new suite of appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, resulting in a fresh, coordinated look,” writes Daniel DiClerico for Consumer Reports. “Applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls or cabinets, and updating the hardware, can also breathe new life into the space.”
Home Improvement Idea #3: Boost Your Curb Appeal
To help make your house sell faster, you may want to try some exterior improvement projects as well.
The exterior of your house is often the first impression potential buyers will have. Consider making landscaping improvements or repainting the front door to make the house more visually appealing when buyers show up for an open house or showing.
However, keep in mind that for many modern buyers, it may not be the first time they’ve seen your house. With online maps that offer satellite imagery of your block and real estate websites that you can upload pictures to, buyers have plenty of options to see your house online before they ever see it in person.
Based on those photos, buyers may decide against viewing the home in person. That’s why Zillow recommends preparing your home and taking high-quality photos when selling. If you’re working with a real estate agent, ask them for advice.
Home Improvement Idea #4: Make It Energy-Efficient
According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, “environmentally friendly features [are] considered ‘very important’” by potential buyers.
By updating your house to be as energy-efficient as possible, you’ll not only be checking a box on a potential buyer’s checklist, but you’ll be cutting down on your energy bills until you’re ready to move. If you’re planning to move soon, it may not bring much in the way of savings. However, if moving is still a few years down the road, it can be a wise investment.
Some energy-efficient home improvement ideas include double-paned windows, enhanced attic insulation, LED lighting, and efficient appliances. Heating and cooling systems are especially important areas to focus on. In the NAR’s 2018 Profile, it was noted that heating and cooling costs were “the most important environmental features for recent home buyers.”
However, keep in mind that while this may help sell your home faster, it may not necessarily increase your selling price.
“Some buyers in the marketplace appreciate a home that features a brand-new furnace or HVAC system, but they won't pay extra for it,” writes real estate expert Elizabeth Weintraub for The Balance.
Home Improvement Idea #5: Remodel Your Bathroom
Much like a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel can help make your home more attractive to buyers.
You don’t even need to completely redo the bathroom. Try something simple like updating your fixtures and adding more lights to give the bathroom a more modern feel.
Cost vs Value: the ROI of Your Home Improvement Project
It’s important to take into account the cost versus value ratio of your home improvement project before undertaking any major changes. Before you get started, you can use national and regional data from trade publication Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost Vs. Value report to help determine whether your project is worth the cost in terms of how much it’s likely to add in resale value.
It may seem like a good idea to undergo a major kitchen remodel to give it a fresh, modern look, but if you know that you risk only recouping 53 percent of your cost, you may decide it’s not worth it.
Making the Move to a Retirement Community
If you’re considering a retirement community for your next home, you may like our guide, Making the Move. It will provide you with helpful tips on downsizing, moving, and getting the most out of your new home.