The Home Improvement Projects Spring Sellers Should Tackle Now (And What To Skip)

The most popular projects that recent sellers say have helped sell their homes are a fresh coat of paint and … [+] landscaping.

Retailers gearing up for the spring home-buying season now need to roll up their sleeves and decorate their homes if they want to attract a dwindling group of buyers. Investing in upgrades, maintenance and repairs can pay off when it’s time to sell.

New research commissioned by Zillow and conducted by The Harris Poll shows that the majority of recent sellers (65%) are involved in at least two home improvement projects to prepare their home for sale, while Thumbtack data shows they can invest on average approximately USD 5,400, hiring a professional to complete the most common projects.

The survey found that sellers who sold their home in the last two years were most likely to finish interior painting (40%), carpet cleaning (35%) and landscaping (33%) before listing their home.

Data from Thumbtack shows that the average cost of these projects is $5,388, but can be as high as $8,249 in urban areas like Seattle-Tacoma and as low as $4,102 in urban areas like Miami-Fort Lauderdale. In addition to location, the cost of these home improvements can vary depending on the size and scope of the project. For example, smaller landscaping projects such as planting flowers, lawn care, and trimming shrubs can cost several hundred dollars, while larger projects involving planting trees and installing sprinklers can cost thousands.

“These designs can instantly boost your home’s online appeal,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trend expert. “An inviting outdoor space, clean floors and a fresh coat of paint – especially in the right color – can send a strong signal to potential buyers that a home is well-maintained and modern. While sellers may be reluctant to pay upfront for these projects, these improvements can ultimately pay off by helping you sell your home faster or for more money.

Nearly 3 in 4 recent sellers (74%) believe that the improvement projects they have completed to prepare their home for sale have helped the sale. The most popular projects that recent sellers said helped sell their homes were interior painting (27%) and landscaping (21%).

“A well-maintained home is one of the best ways for homeowners to attract buyers,” said David Steckel, home expert at Thumbtack. “The Thumbtack study found that a well-maintained home can be sold for around 10% more than a similar mid-range home. Buyers are making the biggest investment of a lifetime and want to make sure they are investing in a well-maintained home.”

When considering which projects to skip, only 11% of recent sellers thought that repairing or replacing appliances and repairing, maintaining or cleaning the roof helped sell their home. Meanwhile, less than one in five recent sellers (17%) believe that renovating a kitchen to prepare a home for sale helped it sell. While costs vary depending on the work done and materials selected, this project can cost an average of $10,355.

Neglecting needed repairs and minor cosmetic touch-ups can lead to resentment at the retailer, especially in today’s changing market. A Zillow study found that 30% of recent sellers believe that more upgrades or repairs would help them get a higher selling price. Separate Zillow research shows that about two in three real estate agents believe today’s sellers are wrong if they believe they don’t need to make home improvements before selling.

The end of April is traditionally the best time to list a home for sale, which means now is the time to rush any repairs or improvements. Previous Zillow research has shown that top sellers wish they had started the process of getting their home ready for sale sooner. And a quarter of sellers who made at least one home improvement before listing it for sale said it took longer than expected.

Today’s housing market is very different from the crazy era of pandemics, bidding wars and record-breaking sales. A recent Zillow analysis showed that homes stay on the market for an average of 54 days, which is 45% longer than last year. However, listings that find buyers do so within 18 days across the country, suggesting the most attractive homes are still moving very fast. Real estate agents can help sellers decide which projects are worth investing in based on the market in their neighborhood.

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