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Tips for getting the best return on investment when it’s time to sell

Selling a home is more than just putting it on the market and hoping for a good sale price. We do a lot of things behind the scenes to help our sellers get the best possible return on their investment. That means helping our clients make good decisions that not only make their home more attractive to potential buyers, but hopefully increase their home’s sale price and net the most money from the sale of their home.

Take, for example, one of our recent listings at 513 Oxford Street in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood. It’s a four-bedroom, two-bath home. Overall, the home was in relatively good shape, but like most homes, it needed a few updates. We worked with the homeowners, like we do with all our clients, to identify specific things to help maximize their return on investment.

Usually, we aim to invest anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000. Although that means spending money on updates, the end goal is to make our clients another $100,000 or even another $150,000 off the sale. There are certain areas of a home, and even certain features of a home, where the right updates and minor improvements go a long way.  From the beginning, we give our clients the information they need to make solid choices about which projects they want, and which can help achieve their goals. It comes down to how much time you have and home much money you’re willing to spend to help your home sell for a higher price.

Flooring refresh

One area we like to focus on is the home’s entryway. With our Oxford Street listing, the flooring in the entry was a bit outdated. We replaced the older tile floor with inexpensive, luxury vinyl plank. It looks a bit like tile, but it’s neutral, modern, and new. Buyers notice these things, and it wasn’t a major project.

We also had someone come to sand, stain, and refinish the home’s original oak hardwood floors. With this home, we kept the wood floors natural and neutral. The lighter wood helped brighten up the home and make it appear more spacious. We did that upstairs, too. Unfortunately, this home had a lot of water damage, so it cost a bit more to repair and rejuvenate the flooring, but it’s worth it in the end to have attractive floors to show potential buyers.

New paint

New paint can also make a big difference, and that’s why we used an off-white paint color for the home’s interior walls. Its neutral enough to appeal to most buyers, plus it really brightens up the space. Instead of a dark, lived-in home, new paint helps refresh a room. It also helps buyers envision themselves living in a home. That’s extremely important if you’re trying to make a sale.

Kitchen updates

Keep in mind, most people come into a home and primarily want to see the condition of the home’s kitchen and bathrooms. That’s why we put some of our focus on this home’s kitchen. The home’s appliances were still pretty good, so we left them alone. Instead of an expensive kitchen remodel that the next owner may want to change, we made some simple updates.

We added the same new flooring in the kitchen as we added to the foyer. We brightened up the kitchen cabinets with new paint. The home’s tile countertops were in pretty good shape, so instead of spending time and money redoing the counters and backsplash, we had the tile regrouted. The countertops were cleaned up and freshened up, but we didn’t spend a lot of money that we may not get back. The kitchen is still more modern, but we didn’t have to tear everything up.

Bathroom updates

The bathrooms in the home were a bit outdated too, so we again repainted the cabinets to brighten them up. We also refreshed with new grout, and we changed out the toilet. The bathrooms aren’t completely new and modern, but they do look nicer and more updated. In this case, we found a good balance, because everything works and the bathrooms and livable, but we didn’t go overboard. This is a good idea if you want to sell your home faster and still get the most return on your investment.

The little things

There are also some little things we did, which can make your home show better. We regularly change out all light switches and outlets, door stoppers, doorknobs, and door hinges. You could spend a lot of time and money making big changes, but if you overlook the small things, buyers notice. Typically, people only tour your home for 10 to 20 minutes, so you need to wow them. If they see something that stands out for all the wrong reasons, they’ll remember. We also put new light fixtures in this home. Look for things that are modern, but also neutral enough that they appeal to most buyers.

New windows

With windows, we give sellers an option. Changing out all the windows can be expensive. In San Francisco, the city has some special ordinances for street-facing windows that makes them even more expensive to replace than regular vinyl windows. With the Oxford Street home, we also had some unique, custom-sized windows. Plus, supply chain issues right now could have meant waiting an extra two months. New windows often provide a good return on investment, but in this case, the extra cost and extra time wasn’t in the game plan.

Unique features

Finally, we like to showcase a home’s unique features. If you’re trying to make your home stand out, you’ll want to accentuate things that set it apart from the rest. We made sure in this home to highlight the home’s skylights and its natural light. That’s a big selling point.

We were able to update this home at zero out of pocket cost to our clients. Again, think simple things that can make the most difference, like refreshing flooring, countertops, and fixtures in a home. Also, new paint and staging with furnishings that don’t detract from the home’s best features. The goal is always to maximize the sale price for our sellers.

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