Ditch the Green Shag… Look at your home like a buyer will

There’s nothing like deciding to sell your property to change your view of the place.  
Suddenly you see it as a buyer might; old carpet, scratched paint, odds ‘n ends of furniture.   It always looked good enough before, but suddenly your new super human power of vision makes every little thing grow in size and importance.
What to do?  Renovate the whole thing or just change out the green shag carpet?1952-chartreuse-carpet
I get this question all the time.
Generally, unless the place is so disgusting that buyers will just stop at the front door, don’t spend a ton of money right before selling.  I recommend not spending more than $3000 to $5000 before putting your home on the market and only then if you really need to.  That will usually cover carpet and paint and freshen the property up a lot.
Don’t renovate the kitchen and baths.  You should have done that soon after you bought.  Now you won’t get the cost back in a higher sale price next week.
The old furniture your relatives donated or came with the place when you bought it in 1995 might be a problem.  Instead of buying all new furniture, removing it and selling unfurnished is your best choice.
Rather, price the property to take the needed renovation into account.  Buyers will do that automatically and their estimate is usually about double the actual cost.
So let’s say the most recent sale at your condominium complex was for $250,000 for a unit with minor renovation or had complete renovation fairly recently.
Let’s further say that your unit needs $25,000 to do the kitchen and 2 baths.  Your best strategy is to price yours at $235,000 instead of spending the money and expect that buyers won’t discount as heavily for the job they are buying into.  If you were to spend the $25,000, the higher sale price won’t compensate you for the time and brain damage it will take to complete the renovation.   Take my word for that.
And particularly in condominiums or other multi-family properties, appraisals won’t justify a sale price ten or fifteen percent higher than the last sale at the complex because of your renovation.  Your gain, if any, will be negligible and you will have done a lot of planning and arranging for free.
Plan major renovations well ahead of the time when you expect to sell, preferably soon after you buy the property.  Get the benefit of a better place to use for the years you own it and a higher selling price than for a unit that still looks like it did ten years ago.
Don’t delay and don’t just pass a functionally obsolete property on to the next owner.  It will cost you more than if you had renovated in a timely manner.
You can borrow my super human power of vision to give you an objective opinion about what you need to do before you sell.  Just remember, you asked me. It’s nothing personal but the green shag has gotta go.

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