Friday, May 11, 2007

Myth # 5 – You need to turn your home into a showplace to list it

Yes, this is a myth. However, if your place is a dump, you will certainly be offered less money for it than a similar house that shows like it’s in “move-in” condition. Also, you need to determine if someone is talking about cleaning and painting or remodeling.

I have been in many homes where I could not believe people actually lived there under the conditions before my eyes: Clothing piled up 2-3 feet high in the center of the living room; pathways through a room that required walking around clutter; bedrooms where the floor was not visible through 2 feet of clutter; dirty dishes, pots, and pans all over the table and counters in the kitchen; a front yard with a few patches of grass that grew despite never having been watered; and carpet worn through past the pad to the floor beneath.

These same homes where I live could sell for $100,000 more with the clutter removed, the dirt cleaned up and fresh paint. The work involved to clean up the house might cost a couple hundred dollars for some helpers to clean up and haul away the trash, and maybe $1000 to re-paint. Even if it cost $5000, and the home seller had to borrow the money to do it, the financial gain would be well worth it even if it only brought in half as much as I said.

Dirt and filth turn off most people. More people are attracted to clean and fresh environments. And there are some people who look for sellers who live in filth and clutter so they can get a bargain and then the buyers will do the clean-up work themselves. They may live in the house after they do the work, or they may “flip” it for the profit. I am surprised by the sellers who cannot see the advantage of doing this for themselves, but they are out there.

The Parade article went on about improvements, like a new kitchen or bathroom, just to sell a house, and how this would not be worthwhile. This is so silly it is hard for me to imagine why they even bothered writing about this. There are at least two reasons for a homeowner to avoid that type of expense to sell their home. First, what they do may not appeal to the taste of most buyers, and second, most remodel work only returns about 80% of the cost of the construction according to a recent survey cited in the Parade article.

Bottom line when it comes to selling your home: It does not need to be a showplace, but you will make far more money by cleaning out the clutter and giving it a fresh and clean look.


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