House remodeling is often about separating out the big issues from the little ones and deciding where to best spend your budget. And often that comes down to having the vision to look through that run-down looking house on a busy street with no back yard and see the jewel that it can/will become with your expert vision and remodeling know-how.
It’s inevitable that even the most experienced real estate investors will run into renovation issues they just can’t see their way around – like a boxy or unusable floor plan, or a bathroom that’s way too small or a closet that’s just useless. No matter the challenge, there are creative and often inexpensive ways to work around these issues. Here are some simple design tweaks to common renovation issues to make any house more marketable and ready for a quick sale.
The old ugly fireplace. In many housing markets a warm crackling fireplace is an inviting and exciting selling feature for buyers. But when your fireplace is full of issues and really needs to be torn out and replaced (way too expensive) some creativity needs to come into play to turn it into something lovely again. Resurfacing it or even just repainting it if its brick goes a long way to staging it to look way better of a feature than it is. Then add some beautiful candles inside it and a great distressed mantle on top and you’ll have something that while it isn’t fully functional will be pleasing to the buyer’s eyes and is still a neat design feature of the room.
The first major issue house flippers run into is that there will be rooms that are just super small. This often occurs because flipping houses is typically done on older homes or in older neighborhoods. The best fix for this situation is to choose two fresh colors that combine both light and darker shades to draw the eye from one end of the room to the other – opening up the space and making it appear larger. Having one darker feature wall and the rest of the walls much lighter helps elongate the space. Your staging also comes into play here- choose furniture that isn’t too big or bulky because that will work against you and create a flow that is easy to navigate.
An outdated kitchen is a big buyer turn-off because a kitchen remodel is a big and often expensive project. Kitchens and bathrooms are what sell a home so this is an important place to spend your rehab budget. Refinishing or repainting the cabinets and adding new pulls and new appliances will go a long way in refreshing something outdated. If the floor can be saved by re-polishing, re-grouting and pressure washing, waxing or re-staining do that – if not, look into inexpensive, renewable materials like bamboo or cork flooring for a fresh modern look that is also budget friendly.
Staging is what sells a home. Once you've gone through and done as much to the house as you wanted to based on your budget the best way to highlight all your hard work is to have the house professionally stages – so add this line item to every rehab budget. A clean, well-lit and well-stages home will outsell an empty home every time.
Horrible curb appeal. The first thing a buyer sees is the outside of the house so it has to look tidy and inviting. Start by getting your hands dirty and get rid of any weed or other overgrowth. Create structure to the front yard with simple shrubs and a few pops of color with seasonal flowers. Repainting the front door can also add a fresh touch to an outdated looking home. You don’t have to spend a lot to make a big impression.
For house flippers and real estate investors there is no ‘off season’ per se. Although the real estate market may ebb and flow seasonally in your area depending on weather, school schedules and other factors, you are likely on the lookout for new investment opportunities all the time. And the current fall season is no exception – but there are some things to watch out for as the golden leaves fall.
Keep in mind that most home owners are looking to sell in the peak season for the area. But for areas that are going to start battling blistery temperatures; the fall is probably not the prime time to list their home. This could indicate a good deal is to be had because they may have another reason really motivating their move to sell now. Talk to their Realtor and find out what the situation is and then use that intelligence to your advantage to snag a great deal.
The fall weather conditions itself can also come into play when shopping for a diamond in the rough. After all – if you are not planning to completely rip off the roof with winter snow coming soon then be sure your home inspection dusts off all the leaves and takes a good look underneath.
Fireplaces are another thing to check out thoroughly as they can become a costly headache to repair and/or replace if needed. They are a great selling feature- particularly in the chilly fall temps but if the chimney is cracked, leaking, clogged, Etc. you’ll have a much more expensive feature on your hands then you bargained for.
With cooling temperatures comes the need to crank up the heat. And that’s exactly what you should do with your home inspector when you evaluate a property in the fall. Crank the head and the AC and ensure they both work well. You can also walk around and check for bad insulation, foundation cracks or other leaks in windows or doors to note on your report. The more you can come back to the sellers with – the cheaper you can get the house for. You may be planning to fix all that anyway – but they don’t know that, right?
Next, make sure the home is well water proofed. If you’re not lucky enough to get rain try hosing down the windows, doors and over the roof and look for leaks. Water damage is a scary phrase for most home owners and will be a good negotiating point to get the price down even more. And often, water damage may be hidden under a coat of fresh paint so finding an actual leak may be the only way to identify a problem.
Finally check if the home is in a flood plain and find out if the area has ever flooded. This is something that is easy to overlook since as an investor you’re not planning to live there anyway – but the people you sell to will look into it. This could cost you valuable time to find a buyer willing to take the risk when trying to flip the property.
Fall is a beautiful time to stage and sell a newly refreshed home – just make sure the ones you buy are worth every penny before you sign on the dotted line.