Buyers are often unable to visualize what a home can potentially look like before any updates have been made. That’s why it’s highly recommended for sellers to employ a professional home stager to revamp their home in order to help it appear more attractive to buyers on the prowl.
However, if some of the homes that you’re looking at have not been staged and are still in their old, outdated state, you may have to use some imagination. While some components and issues may be deal-breakers, others shouldn’t be, including the following.
1. Wall Colors
Bright orange paint or grandma’s old velvet wallpaper might not look very attractive, but the colors splashed on the walls shouldn’t deter you from buying a home. While it’s true that sellers should absolutely paint their homes in a neutral color in order to appeal to the masses of buyers, that doesn’t mean you can’t do the job after you move in.
In fact, giving walls a fresh coat of paint provides one of the highest returns on investment. The cost of painting a home pales in comparison with how much property value can be added from such a seemingly small job. If the home you’re looking at is lathered in hideous paint colors or old-fashioned wallpaper, a little elbow grease and effort can make a drastic difference with little upfront costs.
2. Dated Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
Wall-to-wall carpeting is not a modern feature that today’s buyers are looking for. And they’re certainly not expecting to see carpeting that is littered with stains and discolored patches, not to mention foul odors that may be emitting from it. But as much as the carpeting may turn you off at first, do your best to see the potential.
If you choose to leave the carpeting, a professional carpet cleaner can bring the flooring back to its original lustrous condition. If you decide to rip it out, you might even find original hardwood flooring underneath that will simply require sanding down and restaining. If not, you can always add your own new flooring material to completely update and vastly improve the look and feel of the entire space.
3. Unpleasant Odors
Whether a home you’re looking at smells like cigarette smoke, pet excrement, or last night’s salmon dinner, foul odors can certainly be off-putting. Sellers should never allow buyers into their homes until they’ve had the chance to remove the source of the smell and freshen it up. However, sometimes sellers fail to tackle this important task. The good news is, eliminating foul odors and filling the space with fresh scents is easy and affordable.
For pet odors, deep cleaning the floors works wonders, as long as all remnants of the odors have been removed. If any carpeting is beyond rehabilitation, you may need to remove it altogether and have it replaced.
Bad food smells can easily be diffused by opening all the windows and airing out the home after all the garbage has been taken out. Light a few scented candles and spray the air with special sprays that feature enzymes which break down the molecules that cause the bad odors. If the home still smells bad, you may want to bring in a professional home cleaning service.
For cigarette smoke, you’ll have to wash all the window treatments, deep clean the carpeting, wash the walls, and perhaps have the upholstery washed as well. This is a big cleaning job, so if you don’t have the time nor the inclination to do it yourself, bring the professionals in. Either way, foul odors should not be a deterrent to making an offer on a home if everything else about it seems right for you.
4. Unsightly Kitchen Cabinets
The kitchen is easily the most important room in a home, and it is heavily focused on by buyers when they’re on the hunt for a home. For many, an outdated kitchen is often a deal breaker because of how much effort and cost is involved in renovating this room. However, if all that’s required to significantly improve the look of the space is refacing the kitchen cabinets, you may have a keeper.
Sanding down and restaining kitchen cabinets is a relatively simple job that shouldn’t cost much more than a couple thousand dollars to do, and the difference it makes to the look of a kitchen is amazing.
5. An Unattractive Bathroom
The bathroom ranks right up there with the kitchen in terms of important spaces in a home when buying. Buyers love to see bathrooms that are updated with modern finishes and all the conveniences of today. On the other hand, unattractive bathrooms can turn buyers off to the point that they scratch the home off their short list, but that doesn’t mean they should.
If an unsightly bathroom is still functional and does not require any major plumbing or structural work, there may be potential to revamp the space with just a few cosmetic updates. Taking on this project yourself can give you the chance to update it your liking and even put additional value into your home shortly after buying it.
6. Outdated Fixtures
Many older homes that were built in the 70s and 80s and haven’t been updated since they were built will likely be filled with outdated fixtures that are in dire need of an upgrade. It’s amazing what a difference simple little fixtures like these can have on the appearance of a home. All that would be required is a simple swap of the old fixtures with newer, more modern ones to bring the house from drab to fab.
7. Unkempt Landscaping
A yard that’s been neglected and hasn’t been properly maintained will surely look unattractive, but you don’t necessarily have to turn your back on the home as a result. In fact, landscaping is one of the easiest things to fix. If an unkempt yard causes you to look past a home, you may be missing out on a great home that could look much different once the appropriate updates have been made.
The Bottom Line
It’s a hot market out there. While this is certainly good news for sellers, it can make it tough for buyers to find a home within their price range that checks off all the things they’re looking for in a home. As such, try to be as open minded as possible about some esthetic features that can be changed without having to break the budget to update.
When you’re house hunting, focus on the more important things such as location, square footage, lot size, and of course, price. Just because a home may feature some hideous traits doesn’t mean it should be crossed off your list. Think about how much effort and cost would be involved in changing them, as well as the potential improvement these changes would make after a few updates have been made. You just might be able to add some equity in the home with a little effort.