fact finding mission (to sell a home)

Because I am aiming to sell the house in about 14 months, it’s important for me to know what exactly is appealing to house buyers in my area, in my price range. I’ve already written about how you can visit houses for sell and those having open houses, as well as going on a Parade of Homes tour. Keeping an eye on the MLS and finding out which of these homes sold fast vs.which have sat on the market for a long time, also helps especially if you can get inside to compare the selling and the non-selling.

BTW an update – House #2 sold in about 4 months. Another house listed two doors down from us, sold within 60 days, for asking price, and two weeks before Christmas! This house had a LOT of curb appeal, but looking at inside photos, our house will show even better! Hm good news! House #1 needs to redo the bottom floor colors and remove all the wallpaper in the bathrooms for sure.

Must-Do Updating to Sell a Home:

1.) Organize, pack and remove. I am still shocked at how cluttered homes are that are listed for sale. Remove ALL personal photos, decorations, the extra furniture and the fake plants! Especially, remove those religous or “Love our Family” signs! While they mean a lot to you, they will turn off home buyers.

The majority have too much but some go overboard with the moving-minilimist look. If this confuses you, visit Builder Models. They decorate just enough and in a neutral fashion to appeal to many home buyers.

2.) CLEAN. Anything dirty or scruffed, especially moulding, doors, walls, need to be cleaned/painted. One scruff mark will turn off a buyer. For that reason, we plan on all four indoor house pets (two cats and two dogs) to be living with hubby in Missouri when we put the Oklahoma house up for sale. My daughter, another big mess maker, will also be in Missouri 🙂

3.) Update colors. Choose one neutral and use it for all public area rooms such as living, dining, kitchen, etc… It makes the home interior look bigger. Home Builders are using a medium tone neutral such as a khaki or putty; I’m using Lowes allen roth paint Rock.

Bedrooms and bathrooms can have color but be aware it still could be a potential, turn off. All wallpaper MUST GO… I don’t know why design shows are still promoting it – buyers hate it.

4.) Update Counters especially in the kitchen but also consider the bathrooms. In our area, and house price range, usually granite is a top choice but marble and glass are popular too. If you can’t afford to do the counter, at least update the faucets and wall color.

5.) Update kitchen. Cabinet colors such as white washed, pickeling and some stain colors are definitely out. If you can’t afford much, at least change the backsplash which is usually very fashion-dated.

Also, you can update appliances cheaper by using Craigslist (have seen a lot of good prices on very new fridges and stoves due to people moving) or change the front of the appliances with speciality paint.

6.) Update fixtures. Upgrade the bathroom faucets and the kitchen faucet, especially if you can’t upgrade the counter. Get rid of ANY brass hanging light fixtures even if all you do is spraypaint them. Brass is VERY dated.

7.) Update flooring. Flooring in main rooms should be tile or hardwood, keep carpet for bedrooms. Remove vinyl – even cheap ceramic is better then vinyl! It’s expensive to replace all of this but worn or stained carpet will be the number one reason your house doesn’t sell.

Yesterday, I met with a countertop and cabinet showroom designer (it’s best to meet with several and I had already had a lengthy discussion with a carpet-tile-flooring salesperson at another store). I wanted to know what colors in kitchen cabinets was selling in my area and what countertops were popular. Take into account this is my area (Central U.S., the conservative “Heartland”) but this is what I found out:

1.) People want a spa bathroom experience. Everyone says that but what does that mean? My translation – calm, soothing, with a lighter look, more airy, then what we have had in the bathrooms in the recent past.

Look for medium to light wall tones; lots of cream/white especially in mouldings, tubs and sinks; no wallpaper or dark colors and patterns (i.e. burgandy, browns, wallpaper on walls); glass in showers and accents, maybe in tile; granite or marble countertops; high end looking faucets and shower heads; dimmer and accent lighting with chandeliers and sconces; and lots of white towels.

Creama Luna Granite Transformations

Something interesting that I didn’t know is that if you have undermounted sinks (which I’ll be going with in white) and want top mounted sinks it can be done. If you start with top mounted sinks and want to convert to undermount you have to replace the counter.

Permastone Marble Cream Marfil (cell phone photo more creamy then shown)

The color for the bathroom walls is Waverly Seafoam (WV36007), which is a mid-tone green.

2.) Go with traditional. While I might like modern, traditional way outsells. The more uncertain the times due to economy, war, politics, etc… the more people seek traditional comfort.

When we sold our mod 1960’s house (our first home) we were told that it generally takes a year longer then it took to sell a price comparable, traditional home. OTOH, we picked a great real estate agent who adored our house and he sold it within 90 days.

3.) Most popular kitchen cabinet color is an off white (I would call a cream) with dark brown glazing. Distressing is out. Pickeled oaks and washes are out. Dark cherry remains popular.

We discussed the bright white that I keep seeing and both the designer and I agreed on several things: Bright White looks CHEAP! It looks like the fake wood crap that Lowes and Home Depot was selling off the truck back in the 1980s. And who would want to live in a KITCHEN with bright white and try to keep it clean?? “White” may be the top searched kitchen color but I wonder how many want to live with it?

JMO but the solid wall of cabinets is out. Mix it up with open shelving and glass faced doors. Moulding trim across the top of cabinets that is ornate is hot. Our kitchen was originally all solid door and we are changing that as the wall of cabinets was overwhelming. The eye needs some variation.

After looking over the choices and comparing my test cabinet door to their bestseller, I’m going to go with the whitest part of this test board with Sherwin Williams Van Dyke Brown glaze. The glaze hopefully won’t darken the white to cream as much as the Dark Walnut stain glaze did on the bathroom vanity. I will only be distressing the very edges of the cabinet relief and not the main flat areas.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old White

4.) Glass mosiac or subway tile for the backsplash is very hot right now. I didn’t like their choices but this was the direction I was going so that was good to get that affirmation. If I do a glass counter, I’ll do a stone backsplash or put the backsplash in the same medium as the countertop.

5.) My favorite for the kitchen countertop was a recycled glass composite, solid surface. Choosing this would be a daring move as granite still way outsells recycled glass counters.

6.) Make the island stand out – through the use of a contrasting color on cabinetry vs. main cabinetry and/or using a different counter then main counter. In just looking at many photos, having a different counter then the main counter color, makes the kitchen appear smaller – it stops the eye in it’s movement across the room. We’ll go with keeping the counters the same, but doing a different color on the cabinetry of the island.

The only problem with that plan is that it is very hard to get a good brown color in paint. Stain would give a better color but since we are rebuilding the island with some new and some old pieces, I need to get them looking coherent and I have a hard time doing that with staining new, unfinished wood and finished wood side by side. That project will be a challenge.

To get more ideas, look at my Pinterest on Kitchens.