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Real Estate Agents, Contractors Talk About Best ROI Home Repairs



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Clean kitchens, fresh paint, and tidy rooms and lawns are part of what can improve home sales and provide significant return on investment (ROI) opportunities, according to a group of local realtors and contractors surveyed on the subject by Home & Garden.

Lou and Pat Perez of the Perez Team work for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

“Pat and I agree that the primary thing to do would be the kitchen — upgrade for the style of the home and community it’s in.”

Working as a team allows them to see both a man’s and woman’s perspective when buying a home. “I think that in many cases the person to make the decision is the woman,” Mr Perez said. “A functioning, well appointed kitchen is the heart of the home and she will make the decision that it’s right for the family.”

Has he seen a kitchen change a buyer’s mind? “Absolutely.” He said that first impressions of a home start with the neighborhood or the yard’s tidiness, but “that opinion — positive or negative — can change once they get inside.”

He has heard many clients say, “I love the house and neighborhood, but there is no way I would want it…” He explained, “If the kitchen is not up to snuff, you will hear it right away; if the kitchen does not look clean or smell clean or have relatively new or cared for appliances, it could be a deal breaker.”

Money would be best spent in the kitchen, he said. “It may make the home more attractive with appropriate changes,” Mr Perez said. “Something that almost everybody can afford is to make the kitchen spotless, make it smell good, and be sure appliances work.”

He also suggests asking for help. “Bring your realtor in and let them help you take a fresh look at your house and what needs to be done. Have your realtor go through the house, talk about budgets, problems, and focus on biggest thing, maybe the kitchen, and see what you can do.”

Upgrading Appliances

Art James, owner of Advanced Appliance does repairs, including work in homes going on the market. “It’s always nice to have perfectly working modern appliances. People update when they are selling in order to have it nice.”

Realtor and broker Cathy Masi with Flagpole Realty said so many buyers are asking for granite and stainless steel. “They are wild about it.” Mr James agrees. “Stainless and granite, everybody wants it,” he said. The materials are more expensive, but showy, he said.

Clients also like to see hardwood floors and professional kitchens. “That’s what I am hearing,” she said. She said, “It’s OK to have carpet, but due to allergies, a lot of people want hard surface floors.”

Updated bathrooms are important too, she said.

Overall, to help bring a fresh clean appearance to a home, she said, “Paint. Paint is always a good thing to do and is cheapest and effective.” And clean up any clutter. “People buy with their eyes, still,” she said.

Realtor Beth Caldwell with William Raveis warned, “Curb appeal is huge. Get out and clean up the yard, get some seasonal plants in.” John Spector of John Spector Landscape Design out of Woodbury said, “You’ve got to cut the beds out and mulch, trim the shrubs — that’s number one. Two, rake and fertilize and seed bare areas. Don’t forget to hay the seeded areas so the birds don’t take it,” he said.

Sellers also want to have their house clean, “Declutter declutter, declutter,” Ms Caldwell said. “Cleanliness, even in dated [kitchens or baths], makes a big difference.”

Depersonalize For Showing

Sellers should also depersonalize the home. “Once it’s on the market it’s not your house and becomes a product,” she said. Take down heavy draperies or blinds, and let natural light into the rooms, she said.

It takes no money to clean up a home inside and out, she said.

Also, “Family photos should come down. A buyer needs to visualize themselves living in that house,” Ms Caldwell said.

Bob and Richelle Ward also work as a real estate team, and they both agree, “The front of the house — the approach to the front door sets the tone,” Ms Ward said. “It’s like judging a book by its cover.” She said, “Our number one focus is getting that to look its best.”

Trim may need to be fixed, stairs replaced, or the rotted garage door bottoms need repair, she said.

Overgrown shrubs may be blocking the windows, for example. Since her primary goal is “getting this house sold,” she advised, “tear them out and put smaller plants in,” she said. “Let light into the house.”

While some homeowners are concerned about costs for landscaping or repairs, she said, “We are mindful [of budgets] but also of what needs to be done to make the house attractive to as many buyers as possible.”

Eliminate ‘Funny’ Odors

Evan Grace, a realtor with Caldwell Banker added that keeping a home clean and organized, with neutral colors, and without “funny” odors are all important. “The more neutral, the more someone else can picture themselves in that space — something simple like a drastic paint color that can throw someone off.

“People are using neutral,” said painter Mark Svanda. “Something open and a blank palette allows buyers to come in and do what they wish” once they purchase a home.

“You don’t want anything bold with your personality, you want white or subtle off white on trim, same for ceilings,” he said. “Keep the colors light; it opens up the rooms,” he said.

For the exterior, he said, “You want something fresh that makes sense. You don’t want bright red shutters. They should be more neutral because a potential buyer will have his own ideas.”

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