Getting Your Home Resale Ready

In a market where buyers are picky and sellers want to stand out, many homeowners are questioning what they can do to set their home up for resale – whether the hope is to sell this year or somewhere down the line.

The first rule of thumb is: It is never too soon to plan for the resale of your home. That means, when you’re in the process of searching for a new home you should be thinking as much about how well that piece of real estate will hold its value as how much you’d like to live in it. This may sound calculating and all-business, but I call it smart. You can still get a house that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling (in fact, your home should make you feel, well, “at home”), however, you shouldn’t disregard that buying property is an investment and there are investments that pay off in the end and those that don’t.

So, how do you know what type of homes are likely to earn a return when the time comes to move on out? There are many factors involved in how well a property weathers the market over time, but one prime selling point that has become a cliché in real estate (for a good reason, mind you) is: Location, location, location. Yep, that age-old adage has a ring that just sticks with you, which is good, because you don’t want to disregard how important your home’s location is when it comes to reselling the place. A house or condo in a great spot automatically garners more interest from buyers in general. Just picture the difference in appeal between a Chicago property near the lake and one with a busy highway next door – and don’t forget about proximity to schools, services, parks, public transportation, etc. It all boils down to location!

Being on a nice street surrounded by beauty and conveniences is a top priority, but let’s face it, this is your home – somewhere you and your family are going to spend the majority of your time – so, this property needs to meet your needs and provide a comfortable living space. For the average American, that means a three-bedroom, two-bathroom floor plan with a two-vehicle garage. Of course, it is impossible to clump buyers – preferences into one group. But if you own a house that falls into the category of “most in demand residences,” your chances of someone wanting the property later on are much better. Always familiarize yourself with the specific area you’re buying in because the “most in demand” type of home varies from one market to another, and oftentimes from one neighborhood to the next.

This is something you should also keep in mind if contemplating any remodeling to your existing home. Super customized rooms may suit your needs, but just be careful that they would work with the average homeowner’s lifestyle, too. You might end up alienating potential buyers who would otherwise like the residence. And remember, certain rooms (such as the kitchen and bathrooms) sell the home. So if you’re going to make major improvements or renovations, the “money maker” rooms should be first in line for upgrades.

Certain homes are going to sell, no matter what the housing market situation or how the economy is fairing. How do these properties maintain their salability? Well, location is always important and, depending on your individual area, the size and type of house you have can make a big difference, too. For example, condos sell better in Chicago than in the suburbs and across the U.S. three-bedroom single-family homes are more in demand than two-bedroom places. Overall, detached houses do better than attached units because there is often a surplus supply of condos and lofts following a building boom, since they are quicker and cheaper to put up. Do some investigating on your own, or speak with a real estate agent to find out how your home compares.

It’s never too early to start preparing your home for resale. It is much easier to sculpt your home into a lean mean selling machine over time than right before you put the “for sale” sign up in the front yard. The research you do on what sells in your city and neighborhood can be a rough guideline for changes and improvements you can make in your own house to better position it for resale in the future. But be careful not to get sucked into any fads that may not be popular a few years down the road. Instead, look at the more fundamental features, such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Putting money into additions will not only provide you and your family with more space and amenities now, but will ensure your place is desirable to sellers later on.

An enhanced level of energy efficiency never fails to attract sellers. There are all sorts of appliances, heating and cooling systems, windows and other innovative upgrades you can install that reduce energy consumption and save the homeowner money on utility bills. Anything you can do to diminish the cost of a home’s upkeep is favorable to potential buyers. Green alternatives and high-performance everything are more available these days, giving homeowners countless options to boost their property’s value and cut maintenance expenses.

Thinking ahead is the best way to get your home resale ready. Then you can take your time, do your research and make smart investments that are sure to pay off in the end.