Rosemary Papp

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When you’re preparing your house for sale, the basement is often overlooked when it comes to home staging. While rooms such as the living room and bedrooms take staging center stage, any smart buyer will want to explore all the rooms of your home – and that includes the basement. A clean and finished basement is an excellent addition to any home, and can really add some zeros to your home’s market price tag. It’s clear that it’s in your best interests to get your basement up to speed with the rest of your home staging efforts, but where should you start? And what should you stay away from? 

Do: Clean It Up, No Matter What You’re Planning

Of course, whether you’re planning on an aggressive basement improvement project or just getting things together for an open house, the first step is to clear and clean the basement. Pack up boxes and move them into storage, mop and clean the walls, and air out the room if musty smells have taken over. Give potential buyers a clear view of what your basement looks like – a finished basement is a plus, but an unfinished, clean basement won’t make them bat an eye. A messy, smelly basement, however, will remain a black mark. 

Don’t: Ignore Water Damage 

A well-built basement is bone-dry, and if you’ve got pools of water or drips in the walls, you’ve got water problems. These can easily damage your home’s foundation and encourage mold growth, resulting in your responsibility for some costly repair bills. You’ll want to take care of the issue before any buyers come calling, even if you’re not planning on any more intense finishing projects. Many home improvement contractors offer consultations, tests, and services for waterproofing basements, but there are some simple fixes you can perform yourself. Cracks and gaps in pipes and walls can be plugged with caulk or cement, but if water is seeping in along the floor, you may need to consult with a professional to determine the cause and your options. Solutions can range from pump installations to landscaping changes. 

Do: Insulate Your Walls 

An insulation project is one of the easiest ways to add a bit of comfort to your basement, without trapping yourself in a more complicated project. Moreover, it’s inexpensive, and generally quite easy to DIY if you do your homework. Insulation will keep in the warmth and the cold, and covering it with a wall installation will give your basement a clean look. Before installing any insulation, however, be sure that your basement is entirely waterproofed – insulation and moisture will make for mold city. Even if you don’t have obvious water leakage problems, be sure that no condensation is coming through from the outside with hairline cracks and holes: tape plastic sheeting to the walls, and leave it there undisturbed for a few weeks. If you return to dry plastic, you’re golden. 

Don’t: Bite Off More Than You Can Chew With Finishing 

Remember: you’re trying to sell this house. Thus, you don’t want to tie yourself to it with a basement finishing project that could potentially take years to complete. No sane buyer will purchase a home with a basement project abandoned half-finished, so you’ll need to consider what you can really handle in the time frame you’ve decided on. If you have the money to spend, a professional job can give you the speedy results you need, but take care with your finances: you don’t want to wind up spending more on the project than the returns it’ll grant you on your home’s price tag. 

Do: Familiarize Yourself With Your Local Codes 

Housing codes vary from area to area, and when undertaking any kind of home construction project, you’ll need to make sure you don’t wind up in hot water by accidentally violating an obscure footnote. Codes address everything from ceiling height to water and electrical rules, so no matter what you’re planning, you’ll want to pay attention. A consultation with a home improvement professional is a great help in this area, even if you’re determined to DIY: they’ve got expert hands-on knowledge, and a more down-to-earth understanding of what local codes mean and how they apply to you and your project. 

Don’t: Get Too Determined to DIY 

We understand the DIY urge, especially when you’re tempted by the thought of increasing your home’s value – if you’re out to get more money in the long run, why spend money now on professional work that you can do yourself? (Theoretically.) The fact of the matter is, a home’s basement is an entirely different ballpark than any other above-level rooms. There are foundation and water factors you have to take into account, and when things go wrong here, they can potentially affect the rest of your home in the worst of ways. YouTube tutorials and online articles can only give you so much assistance, and a contractor with years of hands-on expertise is going to have an edge no matter how many blog posts you’ve read and how-to videos you’ve watched. By all means, you’re free to try your hand at basement finishing projects, but if you wind up out of your depth, don’t be ashamed to call in a pro to consult. They’ve got a passion for home improvement that’s a great addition to any team. 

Finishing your basement is a great way to add value to a home you’re getting ready to sell. Basement improvement jobs are excellent undertakings due to their flexibility: whether you’re just out to add some insulation and soft lighting fixtures, or if you’re out to transform it into a fully-functional social room, any level of effort can spell big results when it comes to selling your home. Consider what you have time to go through with, get the pros on the line to lend a hand, and go forth to improve.

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If you are considering a home renovation project, it might not be realistic to take on your entire home, but even just a few upgrades can lead to a much higher selling price for your property. In a competitive market, standing out from the other homes in your neighbourhood is paramount. Below are three important projects to focus on before selling your home that are guaranteed to add that added dose of special sauce buyers are looking for.

Kitchen

To many, the kitchen is the most important part of the home – this idea is echoed in an old saying: people talk business in the living room, but friends hang out in the kitchen. The kitchen is where families spend time together preparing meals and talking about the day. It is where friends laugh over a glass of wine and platters of cheese and crackers. It is the nucleus of every house, and it is what a majority of buyers admit is one of their make or break items when comparing multiple listings.

Buyers like to see clean and new appliances. If your budget allows, consider getting stainless steel appliances, ideally in a fingerprint-free finish. If there is no money freed up for this kind of an upgrade, a good, thorough washing can do wonders, and don’t forget to tidy the magnets and photos on your refrigerator while you’re at it.  

Next, consider replacing worn or outdated countertops. Granite or butcher block are always in demand, but any high-quality, durable countertop in a neutral tone would be a great addition to your kitchen.

Be sure to take into consideration what is appropriate for your property’s listing price when starting to update your kitchen or any area of your home, for that matter. For example, putting marble floors and granite counter tops in a lower priced property would be a bad investment as the chances of recouping that money in equity down the road might not be as great as you had envisioned.

It's wise to consult with your REALTOR® before diving into home improvement projects so you can get a comparative market analysis. This will give you an idea of what your home will sell for, allowing you to budget appropriately for your renovation projects.

Many homebuyers are intimidated about taking on large renovation projects, preferring instead to get into a home that is “move in ready.” This is especially true of first time homebuyers, as they may not have the initial budget to put up a down payment and then dive headfirst into upgrading or renovating their new home. By presenting potential buyers with a kitchen that is updated and clean, you make it that much easier for them to fall in love with your house and sign on the dotted line.

Tip: Burn a softly scented candle in the kitchen to diffuse any lingering cooking odours if your REALTOR® calls with a last minute showing.

Paint

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is an easy and cost effective project that will give buyers a great first impression. Many people choose to do this project themselves to save money - even hiring professionals to do the job for you can be a great value if they can get the work done quickly and with great quality.

Colour selection is key to a successful paint job; your kids might love the neon green paint in their rooms, but strong colours can definitely turn buyers off. Paint the doors and moldings a slightly lighter colour then the walls. "It's a subtle shift in colour but it really brings your eye to the detail." Says Sheri Thompson, director of colour marketing and design for Sherwin-Williams.  

Years of wear and tear can leave your walls with scratches and scuff marks. So even if painting isn’t in the cards for you, taking the time to wash your walls will brighten up your existing paint in no time.

Tip: Pay special attention to the interior lighting of your home. Darkly painted rooms can feel depressing and uncomfortable, but a carefully placed lamp can make all the difference.

Lighting

Adding proper lighting is a simple and effective way to make your home feel more warm and inviting. Interior designer Melanie Freundlich offers up some excellent tips for using interior lighting in your home:

  • A beautifully lit living room is accomplished through variety: variety in height, locations, and even bulb colour.
  • Use light to feature something you love, like a favourite painting, a statue, or a wall with a decorative finish.
  • The cheapest, quickest solution for upgrading your home lighting: swapping out your switch plates to a fun metal finish or even a bold colour to compliment your wall paint.

Landscaping

Doing all of these fantastic interior home improvement projects is wasted time if potential buyers never make it past your front door. When potential buyers drive up to your property they should see a clean and neat exterior at the very least, and – if possible – it is wise to invest in landscape features even if that just means a beautiful birdbath or window boxes filled with freshly planted flowers. It should also go without saying that your lawn should be mowed and any fallen leaves are removed. Also be sure to pick up trash or debris that can easily collect near fence lines or under trees. As an added touch, add a bright exterior light so that potential buyers can see clearly if they drive by your home after dark.

Tony Rigby, a well-known financial planner puts it this way: “Buyers are often sold on a home before they take a step inside, so it pays to make your property appealing from the outside.”

Tip: Have your home professionally pressure washed or rent your own machine if you are feeling ambitious.

These three simple home projects will definitely make your property stand out without costing you an arm and a leg in the process.

 

 

*This article is syndicated and licensed from Realtor.GetWrittn.com.

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