Preparing A House For Sale

Excerpt from my regular column in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Question:  My wife and I have decided that the timing is right for us to sell our family home and the move into a local senior living community.  We have raised 4 children in this house, but the kitchen, bathrooms and interior walls have not been remodeled in over 30 years. I think we should remodel the kitchen and bathrooms while my wife thinks we should just paint all the walls and get new carpeting. What work should we do to update the house prior to listing it for sale in order to get the best selling price?

Your Handyman:  Great question!  Many seniors find themselves in this situation after the kids are finally up and out on their own and the warm family home that used to resonate with the activity and sounds of growing children, now seems cavernous and a little lonely.  You are wise to consider carefully what work to have done to help make the house more marketable and it is very easy to quickly spend piles of money on contractors and designers without necessarily adding significantly to the final sales price of the house.  It is not uncommon when an escrow closes for the first thing to show up in the driveway is a Marborg roll off dumpster and much or all of the new cabinets, doors, and fixtures installed by the seller get torn out, loaded into the dumpster and head off for the landfill.

I would recommend that before you spend any time or money on fixing up the house that you first find a realtor who has many years of experience representing buyers and sellers in your neighborhood.  An experienced realtor can advise you based on their experience as to what type of work should be done in order to get a top selling price, and may even advise you to just have the house professionally cleaned and leave it at that.  Talk with your neighbors and friends to get referrals for realtors who work in your neighborhood, interview 2 or 3 to get a feel for their style and personality, and then rely on his or her advice on how to maximize your selling price.  Sometimes a home owner who has extensive real estate experience may not want to pay a commission to a realtor and can personally handle the sale of their home, but for most sellers an experienced realtor can be worth much more than the sales commission.

-Mark Baird
Owner, YourHandyman & Construction
CA License #935259

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