Physical Condition: Curb Appeal, Home Inspection, and Improvements
If you intend to receive top dollar for your property, you need to pay particular attention to its physical condition. Approach this aspect of the sales process in three ways: curb appeal, home inspection, and improvements.
“Curb appeal” refers to the appearance of your home from the street or as a buyer approaches on foot. Consider having your home examined from top to bottom by a professional home inspector, to obtain an objective opinion about its condition. Improvements enhance the value of your home.
Living in your home provides you with intimate knowledge of its interior features that make it a desirable place to live. Before scheduling an appointment to view a property, a large percentage of buyers routinely drive by and look at the exterior of a home. Based on their “first impression” from the curb, they decide whether to schedule a showing.
Other buyers skip the drive-by and go right to scheduling a showing. However, upon arriving at the location, if the exterior does not appeal to them immediately, it may negatively colour their opinion of your home regardless of interior attributes.
First impressions are everything. Some buyers simply do not have the ability to visualize and appreciate the value of a home if the exterior does not grab their attention. Therefore, focus on making your home noticeable.
Give buyers a head start on the mental process of making the home their own. An eye-catching exterior creates the perfect mindset for potential buyers to take the next step — scheduling an appointment or eagerly anticipating seeing the interior of your home.
The moral of the story: you can attract a large number of buyers to view your home by making the exterior as appealing as possible.
How to Survey Your Home’s Curb Appeal
Drive through your neighbourhood and other areas in Vancouver. Pay particular attention to homes that catch your eye, including colour schemes. Note what appeals or repels you about the homes as you view them from the street.
Go to the exterior of your home and stand back to the end of the driveway or street to get a panoramic view of your home. Approach it as though you were looking at it for the first time.
With a pad and pen in hand, answer the following questions:
- What is your initial impression of the home and the front yard?
- What are the best outside attributes of the home and the lot?
- How can you improve these items?
- What are the least desirable features of the house and lot?
- How can you enhance these areas?
Make this exercise even more effective by taking photographs of your home and lot. Use a digital camera if you have one available. View colour images of the home first, then examine the photographs in black-and-white, which makes the identification of areas in which you might need to make changes stand out.
CMHC has a comprehensive checklist on their website that provides guidance on improving your home’s curb appeal.
Your to-do list should include the following items:
- Clean windows inside and out.
- Use a power washer to remove mould and mildew from siding, roofs, gutters, sidewalks, driveway, decks, or patios.
- Put away toys, garden tools, and other implements.
- Clean down spouts and gutters.
- Remove leaves on large lots.
- Trim tree branches and low-hanging limbs away from the house.
Start your project to improve curb appeal by completing the cleaning and making any necessary repairs. Then proceed with making enhancements.
Give Your Home a Fresh Look
Painting: This is one of the least expensive ways to spruce up the exterior of your home. Choose a colour scheme that makes the home stand out to prospective buyers.
Entrance Door: A new or refurbished entrance door can totally transform the front of your home. If a new door is not within your budget, try a fresh coat of paint or sanding and refinishing the door. Replacing the address numbers, polishing or installing a new doorknob, or upgrading an attached mailbox can also improve the appearance of a door.
Landscaping: A popular way of accomplishing your objective of getting more buyers out of their cars and into your home is nice landscaping. Start with the basics edging and trimming. Plant flowers or group a colourful array of flowers in pots as inexpensive attention-grabbers. Container plants make good sense for small areas. Use rock mulch (pebbles, stones) or wood mulch (chips, bark) to add beauty at an affordable cost.
Sometimes you can make the exterior more appealing by subtraction. For example, large shrubbery or trees may become overgrown and hide the true charm of your home. Try trimming them back. Sometimes removing the obstruction can enhance your home’s overall appearance.
Other Views: After completing your work to enhance the home’s curb appeal, focus your efforts on the remaining areas. Buyers not only drive by to examine the property from the front, but they also want to look in the rear of the house and along the sides. They will attempt to view these areas from another street or your neighbour’s driveway.
In addition, buyers can drive by in the evening, so make sure your home address is clearly visible. Use exterior lighting, including accent or low-voltage landscape lighting, to display the home, plants, or other features.
You might have heard horror stories depicting how residential real estate sale transactions have fallen apart at the closing table. Usually, the reason had to do with a “surprise or two” unveiled by the buyer’s home inspector about the home.
Avoid last-minute surprises by having your home inspected from top to bottom by a professional inspector. The inspector provides you with a complete report that lists any repair issues or defects in your home.
Follow the items outlined in the report to correct basic maintenance items, or identify significant issues up front, such as replacement of the heating unit or the need to re-roof the home. Once you are aware of potential issues, you can decide whether you want to make the corrections.
If you elect not to make repairs, you must disclose the deficiencies to your listing agent and potential buyers.
In some real estate markets, it works to your advantage to make enhancements to your home for it to show well and receive top-dollar offers. This includes floors, landscaping, wall/ceilings, kitchen, and bathroom. Develop a plan and budget to ensure that you have the necessary resources to complete any project you start. Most importantly, complete the work before you list the property.
Focus on cost-effective improvements that return maximum value. Do not invest too much and exceed the value of your neighbourhood. Avoid expanding rooms, making unwarranted renovations, or modifying a room’s function.
Here are some suggestions for improvements you can make with which you have a high probability of recovering from the sale of your Vancouver home:
Flooring: Hardwood floors are popular with many Vancouver buyers for family rooms and living rooms. If you have hardwood floors underneath carpeting, remove the carpet and have the floors professionally refinished. If not, consider installing quality laminated flooring if its fits within your budget.
Choose a neutral colour when replacing carpet. Ceramic tile or stone make a good choice for entryways, kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms.
Ceilings and walls: Pay attention to the ceilings because buyers will. The ceiling reveals signs of leaks. Remove smoke or grease stains or cracks. Patch large patches with fiberglass drywall tape, cover with compound, sand, and paint. Follow the same advice for walls. Keep in mind that a silky smooth finish and fresh coat of paint do wonders for dreary walls and ceilings. Semi-gloss paint brightens up spaces. Use eggshell for walls and ceilings with slight imperfections. Try to avoid wallpaper or panelling
Kitchen and bathroom remodelling: Someone once said, “It is kitchen and bathrooms that sell homes.” These projects offer the most return for the dollar. Avoid luxury finishes unless you have a high-end home because they may not return as much as minor kitchen or bathroom overhauls.
In kitchens, cabinets and appliances are usually the most important and costly items to replace. Replace them if the units are too old or otherwise damaged. Depending on the type of buyer you want to attract, it can be difficult to sell your home if you do not replace kitchen cabinets.
You might be able to get away with cabinet resurfacing, which involves the application of a veneer on the cabinet surface. You will also replace the doors and hardware. Give painted cabinets and new life with a fresh layer of paint and sparkling new hardware.
It is not always necessary to install granite countertops to make a kitchen overhaul look expensive. A nice, simple laminate top with a new sink and sparkling faucet usually suffices. Replace stained sinks and leaky faucets.
Small bathrooms, mirrors, and large windows give the room a larger, airy feel. If you install permanent fixtures, choose neutral colours. Take the same approach with the installation of colours for the wall and ceiling — whether paint, tile, or stone. If you have multiple bathrooms, keep treatments similar.
Window Treatments: Curtains and blinds represent an inexpensive way to help make a favourable impression on buyers.
Again, do not overdo the spending. Approach any enhancement from the value it adds to your home. Unless necessary, stay away from full remodelling. From the moment you list your home with a Vancouver real estate agent, make sure that all the work is completed, that systems work properly, and that your home shows well.