Moving on Your Mind

Are you considering selling your home? If so, you may be wondering what to do in today’s market. These days, stressful decisions — like whether or not to move — can seem even more stressful than before.

To help ease some of that anxiety, Indy’s Child talked to two local realtors to learn some tips that will help you prepare your home for the day when the For Sale sign is up and the showings begin. Caroline Cinamon has been a realtor with F.C. Tucker for 15 years, and Lynn Gottschalk has been with RE/MAX Ability Plus in Carmel and has been selling real estate in the Indianapolis metropolitan area for 10 years.

What is the No. 1 suggestion you have for someone who is trying to sell their home right now?

Cinamon: Meet with a real estate agent right when you think about selling. Sometimes I meet with clients months, or even years, in advance. We can set up a home selling plan including meeting with a stager and get a plan and timeline together.

Gottschalk: Price it right. If you are priced at or above market, your listing will get a lot of initial attention, many showings right up front and possibly multiple offers. The alternative is to possibly overprice the home, and then not get much tension at the beginning. Then when the seller does come down to a good market price, the listing is already perceived as older and buyers wonder why this home didn’t sell right away. We are in a seller’s market with an inventory shortage, and homes that look move-in ready and are priced right are selling very quickly, and at the highest possible price.

What home projects will get you the most bang for your buck?

Cinamon: I recommend cleaning, decluttering and painting. Also, anything in the kitchen or bathrooms. A kitchen countertop upgrade along with a new backsplash will typically get you a faster sale and more money.

Gottschalk: Kitchen and bathroom renovations typically produce the greatest return on investment, although you often don’t have to spend that much to get your home to market. I recommend my clients clean and touch-up woodwork and walls so the house looks move-in ready and not at all “rough.” If the seller has a little money to spend, I recommend they invest in modern light fixtures, faucets and towel bars. The most important thing may be to fix anything that is broken. Starting at the mailbox, walk through your house and ask yourself what you see that looks broken, worn or in need of repair.

What home projects do not usually get the best return for the investment?

Cinamon: Keep in mind improvements typically only “last” in the marketplace around 7 years and then feel dated again. So, if a homeowner wants to make a crazy improvement, but knows they will be in the house for 10 years, and are willing to change it again before they sell, then go for it.

Gottschalk: Unless you are moving out of your house before you put it on the market, don’t invest in new carpet. New wood, manufactured hardwood, wood laminate or vinyl plank flooring is a good investment, but getting new carpet while you’re living on it does not count in the buyer’s mind as new carpet. And painting is only a benefit if you are going to paint neutral, fairly light colors like gray, beige or greige. Don’t invest large chunks of money in things that buyers don’t notice, like new windows, a new furnace or a new roof.

Any other words of advice?

Cinamon: Keep your home maintained. Maintenance items are not upgrades or improvements. Items like having the HVAC system serviced or the exterior painted, need to be completed to keep a house in good condition to make for a good sale when you are ready.

Gottschalk: You are moving, so pack. Pack up all of your personal photographs and knickknacks. Leave one pretty bowl, candlestick, piece of pottery or art on each surface. Pack half or more of what is in your closets and your kitchen cabinets. Put half of your furniture in your garage if your home is cluttered. Pack all the boxes you can and put them in the garage because buyers expect your garage to be cluttered with moving boxes when you are getting ready to move. If you plan to sell your home, tell yourself it’s not your home anymore and prepare it for the market as if it already belongs to someone else.

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