The hit list: 5 things homeowners can do to expedite and increase home sales | VailDaily.com

The hit list: 5 things homeowners can do to expedite and increase home sales

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Vail Valley HOME magazine, now on newsstands everywhere.

you may not realize how far taking down family photos from walls or planting annuals can go toward increasing your home's sale value, but even these small changes are steps toward not only making your home look nicer but also hooking a perspective buyer emotionally.

"The agenda is to increase emotion, because emotion is what gives you a better price for your house," said Scott Bandoni, a real estate agent at LIV Sotheby's International Realty.

When perspective buyers fall in love with your home, negotiations often flow smoother because "if they like it, they'll pay for it," said Bandoni, who has sold properties in the Vail Valley for 23 years.

Here are his top five ways to activate emotions, which, in turn, usually results in faster sales, often for a higher dollar.

Curb appeal

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How sexy is your home from the street? Classic curb appeal ranks No. 1 when it comes to home sales. To begin with, landscaping is a must.

"One of the reasons we market homes in the summertime is they look so much better in the summer than in the gray of winter," Bandoni said.

But curb appeal doesn't end with colorful pops of flowers and neatly manicured bushes and greenery: To start off on the right foot, buyers want to see that the exterior of the house, from roof to driveway and siding, is in excellent condition.

Kitchen and bath

It may sound cliche, but that's because it's an old tried-and-true factor: remodeled kitchens and bathrooms create excitement, partially because most buyers know how expensive — and time consuming — kitchen and bath renovations can be.

If you're the seller shelling out the big bucks, then rest assured in your project, Bandoni said.

"One of the safest investments to make in upgrading a home is still upgrading the kitchen and bath," he said.

While energy efficiency is a great thing, both for the buyer and the environment, buyers tend to base their decisions more on aesthetics.

"Out in the marketplace, people want materials and products that are in style," Bandoni said. "It's form, then function; as long as they look right, they're going to tie those emotions in."

This means choosing contemporary sinks, fixtures, stone and flooring that "say quality," in both the kitchen and bathrooms.

Wowing buyers with these big-ticket areas usually goes a long way in how a home that needs more extensive work in other rooms shows.

"It creates a newness to a house, even if other parts of the house are not updated," he said.

Surfaces

A fresh coat of paint brightens up rooms, which furthers that sense of newness.

"It's one of the best bargains for your buck to create a positive impression," Bandoni said. "It can really make an older place look and smell new, and sights and smells are all part of emotions."

Flooring falls in the same category as surfaces, so whether it's new carpeting, wood or the latest tile trend, new flooring gives the impression that the home is well maintained.

"Because it's so pervasive — it's all surfaces — it feels significant," he said. "If you replace carpet and paint throughout, it touches every aspect of the room."

Staging

Whether you hire a professional or find a way to distance yourself from the decor of your home and see if it needs to be re-created, "staging is crucial to (add) a sense of the home's potential," he said.

Staging includes neatness, because as Bandoni points out: When rooms are messy, buyers have a difficult time envisioning the home looking better. So, the most obvious task involves major decluttering. As you remove excess items, don't forget family photos; this makes spaces less personal and allows the home's features to shine.

"You can take a weak home and if it's properly staged, it will make a weak space look strong," he said. "Of course, if you stage a beautiful house beautifully, you're elevating the whole impression.

"Staging accentuates the house itself, rather than accentuating the people who live in it."

Cleanliness and maintenance

Cleanliness and maintenance tend to go hand in hand, and they make strong impressions on anyone who walks into a home.

"Cleanliness sends the message that the house has been well maintained, and people will pay more for a well-maintained house, because it's less worry; people will pay more for a house that they don't have to worry about," Bandoni said.

A well-maintained home — from furnaces to fireplaces and everything including the kitchen sink — shows more like a new home, and buyers clamor for new.

"They pay more for something that's perfect," he said.

So, before you place the "for sale" sign in the ground, take an inventory of how your home measures up to these top-five elements. If you just do one of five, then it can make a significant difference in the price and ease of your sale.