The term "Improvement" means to improve so we tend to think of them as increasing the value of your home. There are some...shall we say, "changes," that can actually lower the value of your home or at least not allow you to recover the cost it would take to make them. Unless you just want to make changes because you want them, some are just not worth the cost.
Not Worth It
1. Swimming Pools. In places like Phoenix these may be a necessity but it you live in Colorado, like I do, pools are only useful for a few months every year. The freezing and thawing we have also makes them a headache to maintain and make sure they do not crack. Usually pools don't add much, if any, value to a home. The insurance and upkeep you pay can far outweigh the benefit. You might also want to reconsider that hot tub as well.
2. More Garage Space. Unless you only have one garage space, or none, adding extra spaces can be expensive but only gives back about 60% of the cost upon resale. Some buyers might also be turned off by more space when they have no use for it.
3. Sunrooms. Like extra garage spaces, the return on sunrooms averages only about 60%. They can look nice but sunrooms are not always a great investment or improvement. A deck is less expensive to add and the return tends to be much better.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a contingency is, "A future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty." A home can be one of the largest purchases in your life and sometimes you need one event to happen, or not want an event to happen, before purchasing something so major.
The market in the Denver area right now is tough for buyers so sometimes there are NO contingencies in an offer, but most offers have at least a few. At least a contingency on an inspection and appraisal are very common but there are others you may want to consider as well.
Some Contingencies in Offers
1. Home Inspection Contingency. This is the most common contingency in home purchases. Even new homes often have inspections. The cost of an inspection usually is based upon the size of the home and costs between $350 and $500. Buyers want to be sure there are not major problems with the home, but remember that inspectors are paid to find everything that is wrong with the home from bulbs that are out to foundation problems. That does not necessarily mean if there are 45 things listed that the house is "bad" or you should not buy it. They may simply be minor issues and sometimes the seller will be willing to fix items or give the buyer some money so the buyers can fix it themselves.
2. Septic Inspection. Contingency Obviously not all home have a septic system. In fact, most homes are on the public sewer system, but if the home you are considering buying is on a septic system, you probably want to have it inspected. Some locations, including many counties in Colorado, actually require an inspection as part of obtaining a "Use Permit" when a home is sold. Septic Drain Fields, often called Leach Fields, usually last 15-20 years and when it does "fail," it may cost a bundle to fix. If the public sewer at that time is within a certain distance, sometimes the home owner is not allowed a permit to replace the field but must pay to have the system piped into the public sewer system. Don't be afraid of a septic system, but a good idea, if not actually required, to have an inspection.
3. Home Sell Contingency. It is great when you find that home you really want. Most people, however, will need to sell their current home in order to have enough money and credit to buy another home. A Home Sell Contingency states that the buyer's current home will be under contract and/or close within a certain number of days of the offer or the contract may be cancelled. Often times the buyer's sell of the current home and the purchase of the new home happen on the same day or within a day or two of each other.
4. HOA Contingency. HOAs often have many rules and regulations when it comes to homes. This contingency obviously only applies if there is an HOA. Even if an HOA has voluntary dues, the rules and regulations of the HOA will usually still apply. Many HOAs in Colorado will allow horses and dogs, but not chickens even if the homes are on acreage. If you want chickens and they are not allowed by the HOA, you can cancel the contract by following the proper steps.
Everyone has their own tastes and ideas regarding what a kitchen should look like but there are some basics. The kitchen can be the "make or break" deal when it comes to buying a home so as the seller you want to make it as appealing as you possibly can. Some upgrades can make a difference in whether or not the house sells but you might not get your money back in the purchase price so be careful in that regard. Here are a few things you can do to prep your kitchen
Preparing You Kitchen to Sell
1. DO clean, clean, clean. If you read my blogs and watch my YouTube videos, you might start noticing a pattern - one of the top things to prep your home is to clean! The kitchen is an area where this is highly important. Be sure to clean out the drawers, pantry, cabinets, and the nooks and crannies of the floor and counters.
2. What stinks?!? DO get rid of odors. Back to the odor thing. Lemons? Good! Fish? Not so good. Place lemon rinds down the garbage disposal, grind them up a bit, and leave some in there. It will help with odors. Run the dishwasher with a package of lemon Kool-aid (must be lemon) or another generic brand to make the dishwasher shiny on the inside and smelling clean.
3. DO organize your pantry and cupboards.
Yes, I know most of us don't have a pantry like the one to the left, but it is a great example of how things should be straightened and organized. Yes, buyers will look. They want to see if their own things will work and fit into your kitchen. To help make things appear bigger and better, be sure to leave some space on each shelf.
4. DO clear off your countertops. Of course you needed that juicer and the blender and the electric skillet and the four-piece of bread toaster and... you get the idea but don't leave them all out on the counters. Buyers want to see bright, spacious, and clean. Especially if you have counters that are in great shape, show them off! Remember, don't just toss things into a closet. Buyers look, well,...at everything.
5. DO put out some seasonal flowers and a bowl or vase with lemons. Who doesn't like cheerful flowers (I love white daisies!) and bright lemons? Okay, maybe SOME people don't but for the rest of us, lemons and flowers give a sense of a clean, friendly and inviting place.
Just a few months ago, US News & World Report published that Denver, Colorado is the "best place to live" in the USA. The real estate market was already rocking and rolling in the area when the report came out and home prices were still on the climb. For the most part, the market in Colorado was, and still is, a "seller's market." Some homes had 15+ offers the day they were put on the market! Even in a market like this, however, there are a few things sellers do NOT want to do to lower their chances of getting a good price for their home, if getting it sold at all.
Things to NOT do when selling your home
1. DON'T price it too high.
Yes, we all want to get the most we can from our home. Some real estate agents will say to make the asking price higher than you actually want because it is "known" that buyer's will want to play the back-and-forth game to get the price down. Pricing high however, assumes that buyers will make an offer that can be negotiated. How do you know if your asking price is too high? If there are no offers, or only low-ball offers in the first 30 days of your listing, it is likely priced too high.
2. DON'T limit (within reason) showing times
Notice that I said, "within reason." If you have children and someone wants to view your home at 10:00pm on a school night, then yes, you have the right to ask to reschedule. One of the best ways to avoid this sort of thing from happening in the first place is to give advanced notice regarding when you will and will not accept showings. If you have children, pets, a sloppy spouse, etc you can always ask for at least 2 hours notice prior to showings to do a clean up. If you have family coming into town and there are 2-3 days that you do not want any showings, be sure to have "no showings on _____." Be careful, however. If you limit the times and days too much, you will miss out on some potential buyers. Basically, when your home is on the market, you will likely clean it more thoroughly and more times in a week then you have in 6 months. Before going to work, school or even just spending time at the house, be sure to have it ready to go at a moment's notice. Pretend your Type A mother-in-law is going to stop by at any moment...but you have no idea what day. How's that for a fear factor?
3. DON'T leave your home cluttered
Getting rid of clutter is probably one of the cheapest and most worthwhile thing you can do when preparing your home to put on the market. Do NOT just toss things in a closet or drawer. Buyers look and it may not be that they are snooping but they really do want to see how big that closet is. Clutter can also make buyers wonder if you have not taken good care of a home. You want your home to appear as open and spacious as you can as well and getting rid of clutter will open things up. You are probably moving here soon anyway if the house sells, so why not start straightening, tossing, organizing, and packing up some things now?
4. DON'T have unpleasant odors in your home
I read once that there are more dogs than people in Colorado. I don't think that is quite true but people here sure love their animals! Colorado Springs was named the most pet-friendly city a few years ago. Even in Colorado - dog-loving Colorado - you do not want the odor to permeate your home when it is on the market. Fecus odor, such as a cat's litter box, is considered one of the worst smells to humans. Fish (great catch but last night's meal is not appealing to buyers), wet dog, and air fresheners (not everyone likes lavender) can kill a sell. Have an outsider come into your home to do a sniff test. You can get used to the smells but an honest outsider, like a real estate agent, will let you know.
5. DON'T refuse to make repairs
Unless the buyer is buying your property as a "fix and flip," most home buyers do not want to walk into a house and immediately have to make repairs. This is not to say there will not be SOME repairs but that hole your son put in the wall while wrestling with his friends last summer probably should be fixed. Doors that do not open correctly, light fixtures that do not work, and decks that are giving you splinters in your feet, probably should be fixed before putting your house on the market. Yes, it might cost you some money, but possibly having your home sell quicker and for more money will likely be worth it in the end. Those things will probably be pointed out in a home inspection anyway so might as well fix the simple things that make your home more put together.
I am a real estate broker, attorney and mediator. I am blogging from my own ideas and perspective. Although I am a licensed attorney, these are not intended to be legal advise.