Packed open houses. Listings selling in days. Bidding wars.
It’s a seller’s market — especially in New Jersey where inventory is low but closed sales were up more than 17% this January over last January and the average sales price on a single family home has jumped 22% to $504,585.
But if you’re looking to put your house up for sale there are still things you can do to draw more interest, get more money and save yourself headaches during the home inspection process.
Here are a few ideas from real estate agents across New Jersey:
Get your septic inspected. Septics can also be intimidating. If you can present potential buyers with a professional inspection report they might feel more at ease. And you’ll know if there are any cracks or problems that would come up during the process. “You’re at hour zero, ready to close and now if an issue comes up everybody has time and money tied up,” said Emmett McDowell, an agent with Power Realty and a house flipper who has also worked for a luxury builder. “You’ll bargain away a tremendous amount. You never want to negotiate from a position of weakness.”
Make your front door pop. Even when people flip houses, said Michael Read of Bridgeway Mortgage in Morristown, “you’d be shocked at the amount of times they leave the front door how it was. It sticks out to me every time. It’s like, what else did you skimp out on.” For about $100 worth of supplies and a little bit of time, your front door can set the tone for the house. It doesn’t have to be fluorescent orange. The color you paint it can be something simple. Just make it clean and fresh.
Power wash your house. Or hire some to do it for you. For about $500, getting the winter grime off your house will make a big difference in curb appeal. And if one side of your house is shaded and grows green mold, that can be a huge deterrent for buyers. “Your house looks 30 years newer and your curb appeal just went up by 80%,” said Brian Morgenweck of Power Realty in Hackensack.
Kitchen and bathroom quick-fixes. A full kitchen remodel can cost about $40,000 and provide a 91% return and a bathroom gut job can cost about $26,000 and bring a 93% return, according to HGTV. But that’s a lot of money to shell out and it’s probably not necessary in this market. Some simple, inexpensive upgrades that can make a big difference are to paint the cabinets or vanity, put new pulls on the doors and drawers, get a new faucet, update the lighting and, as with any room in the house, paint it.
If you’re selling a higher-priced home it would be worth it to do a full remodel of the master bathroom, McDowell said. He recently toured a home in Wayne that would list for about $900,000. “The kitchen is okay but the bathrooms are really outdated. The master bathroom in high-end homes is really important to buyers,” he said. “My recommendation was it should be redone if they want to draw higher numbers. The other bathrooms will be fine with a non-demo remodel.”
Don’t overlook the obvious. Does your ceiling fan have an inch of dust on the blades? Clean it. Along with HVAC registers, gutters and other home maintenance items you may overlook. Bring in a fresh pair of eyes, this may be your real estate agent or a friend or family member. Find someone who will be objective.
Morgenweck remembers a multi-family house he sold in Midland Park a few years ago. The house looked like a great income property during the initial walk-through. Then he got to the basement where the whole back wall was covered in green mold. The house had been listed with another agency previously and got no offers. “There was a down spout from a gutter on the roof pouring water every time it rained up against the cinderblock wall,” he said. “That’s a $10 piece of metal spout and about $500 worth of mold remediation. And the house sold for about $40,000 more than it was previously listed for.”
If something is broken, fix or replace it. Is your dishwasher broken? Replace or repair it. It will cost you exponentially more to compensate the buyer for it than it will to take care of it yourself.
Sound and smell. Make your place feel homey with soft music and a diffuser or wax melter — an open flame might be dicey with people walking through your home. Citrus, herb, cedar and vanilla are some recommended scents, Read says.
“There is totally some sort of connection,” he said “If you walk in and smell certain smells it puts you in a frame of mind.” Soft, low-key music can also help. “I’m assuming they do the same thing when you go to the dentist so you feel comfortable,” Read said. And you probably already have these things so it won’t cost you anything.
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Are you buying or selling a home in New Jersey? Tell us about your experiences. Allison Pries may be reached at [email protected].