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Ed Fuller: The Top Five Most Valuable Home Improvement Projects for Sellers

Today's home sellers should focus on curb appeal and home staging above larger-scale home renovations, according to a new national survey of real estate agents and interior designers.

Ed Fuller
Ed Fuller

Asked to identify the most valuable home improvements for sellers, the experts agreed that minor improvements such as landscaping and painting walls in neutral colors are the most cost effective, and attract buyers faster.

Agents in the nationwide survey agreed that sellers should avoid costly projects prior to listing their home, as the increased sale price may not outweigh the time and money spent on the remodel. Instead, agents and designers recommended spending money on minor renovations that will bring the home up to current market standards while also appealing to the broadest number of potential buyers.

While minor improvements may bring the greatest increases in value for the least dollars invested, in our area, with our exceptionally high prices, the costs of major remodels may have a better return than the national averages as they are a smaller proportion of the final selling price.

According to the survey, the top five projects for sellers are:

» Curb appeal: Creating a strong first impression is imperative as buyers begin making assumptions about a home well before they step inside. A well kept, vibrant, flowering entry will not only invite buyers inside, but will encourage them to make an offer.

» Declutter: This sounds simple, but according to experts, it's one of the most important things a homeowner should do before selling. Remove all personal photos, memorabilia and articles that don’t present a complimentary theme. A clean house feels more spacious and helps buyers easily envision themselves in the home.

» Staging: A home stager can skillfully identify ways to highlight a home's best features and compensate for its shortcomings.

» Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances: Most buyers are still requesting granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Incorporating granite and new appliances can help catch a buyer's eye. But when placing them with dated cabinets, special attention must be paid to the cabinet finish and hardware or they will look out of place.

» Invest in small home improvements: These kinds of projects include updating lighting fixtures, cabinet or door handles, and minor kitchen and bathroom updates. If you are considering major remodeling before selling, both agents and designers agree that you should consult a Realtor first.

Ed Fuller is a real estate broker with San Roque Realty Inc. and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.687.1551. The opinions expressed are his own.

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