When it comes to selling a home, two rooms count more than any of the others — the kitchen, and the master bath. If you’re in a situation where you have a property you need to move, and a limited budget for improvement, then these are the places where you need to start. Kitchens and baths sell homes, and here are some times to help leverage the best options.
1. Clean ‘Em Up
If you’re trying to move your property quickly, it’s definitely worth the expense to bring in some professional cleaners. When hiring cleaners for this sort of work, you want to make sure both that they’re professional, and that they’re treating their business as a business. Make sure that whoever you hire has appropriate insurance to cover the property, and that their employees are bonded. The safest bet is to go with one of the national chains: Merry Maids or Molly Maid. Both will do a deep, initial clean (make sure they pay particular attention to the grout and tile in the kitchen and bath!); both should have the appropriate insurances (but they’re franchise operations, so make sure you see the actual certificates of the particular franchise you select); and both will have lower-cost recurring fees to come in every other week, dust everything down, and clean any mess that’s been brought in by showing the home.
You’d be surprised at what a difference just cleaning the kitchen and bath can have in the overall appeal, and speed with which you move the property.
Once everything is spic-and-span, take a look at the fixtures. With a quick trip to Home Depot and a little bit of elbow grease, you can make a tremendous difference in the appeal of these two key rooms. Select some matching fixtures, towel racks, and cabinet knobs, and go to town. For a couple of hundred bucks, you can propel an aging kitchen and bath decades into the future.
Also, while you’re there, grab some paint. Touching up the trim in both of these key rooms with a new, bright color is a simple step that can make a tremendous difference. Fresh paint and fixtures can capture the eye in a way that will cause potential buyers to perhaps overlook other, deeper issues with aging kitchens and baths.
3. Stage and Photograph Well
Sure, you’ve put a fancy art book on the coffee table, and are bringing fresh flowers in every week, but what have you done for staging the kitchen and bath?
For the bathroom, it’s easy — big, fluffy and white. Find a place to stack 3 big, fluffy, white bath towels. Hang big, fluffy, white hand towels. Put a big, fluffy, white bathrobe on the hook. Really, it’s that easy.
The kitchen is a little trickier. Wine and cheese boards are way over done. But a home-cooked meal never is. Take a fresh casserole, and put it on the range. Have a big, glass pitcher (a la, the koolaid man) filled with water or juice. Of course, you can’t leave these things around — but the reality is, you don’t need to. For both the big-white bathroom staging, and the casserole and pitcher, it’s all about the photography. Most people are going to form an opinion by looking at the property online, and having these items in place the n you take the photographs is just as important (maybe more so) than having them there when the buyer visits.
The Big Things
For the vast majority of houses, doing those three things above will be enough to help you move the property. However, you will occasionally find yourself in possession of a property that really does need the big overhaul. Yes, it costs some money, but if your appliances are more than 25 years old, and don’t look particularly good, you may have to bight the bullet and pay for an upgrade. Of course, you don’t need to go all Wolf-Sub-Zero with that upgrade, but you do need to pick appliances that look good. Investing $5-$10k in new appliances may not add $5-$10k to the property value … but in some cases it may be the difference between moving the property at all, or not.
The bottom line? Do the little stuff first. If it’s not enough, suck it up and do the big stuff. Kitchens and baths matter.