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It’s difficult to come up with an adjective to describe the housing market since COVID-19 first shut the world down in spring 2020. Wild, perhaps? As mortgage interest rates plummeted, eventually landing below 3% near the end of 2021, demand for homes spiked. Sellers held the power while buyers sometimes made offers without even getting to see a house in person, and bidding wars sent sale prices out of control. Now the balance is shifting; after steadily rising in 2022, as of this writing, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan sits at 7.08% per Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, the price of homes is still up; in September, the average home price was $384,800. That’s a bit too rich for many potential buyers, and it stands to reason that it will become increasingly difficult to sell a home under these market conditions.
If you’re intending to put your house on the market in 2023, it pays to do everything you can to entice buyers to make an offer on your home. With that in mind, here are a few moves to make before listing your house, as well as average costs to hire a professional, where applicable. Note that costs listed are from services that aggregate national prices; your own costs will vary based on where you live and your home’s needs.
Front door painting: $175
While it may not be necessary to repaint your entire home before putting it up for sale, if you can spend some money repainting your front door, it will likely be worth it — if you pick the right color. A Zillow study from June found that homes with slate blue or black front doors sold for as much as $6,449 more than similar houses. Other paint colors, like cement gray and millennial pink, didn’t fare as well, but even if you elect to go with a different paint color, a freshly painted front door can give your home a welcoming and well-kept vibe that buyers might respond to. According to HomeGuide, you’ll be looking at $125 to $225 ($175 on average) to have a professional paint your front door.
New landscaping: $9,475
When you’re selling a home, it’s all about that curb appeal. Prospective buyers who are out scouting for those “for sale” signs are going to see the exterior of your home first, and you want them to see a manicured yard with attractive landscaping. According to HomeGuide, there’s a wide range for typical landscaping costs; it notes that costs range from $3,000 to $15,950 for new landscaping, resulting in an average cost of $9,475. This is one expense you can save money on if you’re used to maintaining a yard or if you already have significant landscaping in place that maybe just needs a little attention from a professional. Definitely shop around and save money where you can.
Storage unit rental: $190
If you’ve lived in your home for a long time, you’ve probably stopped noticing how much stuff you have packed into it. But you can bet that prospective buyers will notice, and they’ll have a hard time picturing their own belongings in your home as a result. Before you list your home, it’s a good idea to rent a storage unit to offload extra belongings you won’t need until after you’ve sold your home and moved. And as a bonus, it’ll be easier to move if some of your things are already in boxes and in a central location. Move.org states that the average cost to rent a storage unit for a month is $190. Of course, this is another cost that can vary widely depending on where you live and how much space you need. And you may be able to snag a deal for a month or two of storage if you’re a new customer.
More: Our picks for best FHA mortgage lenders
Heavy-duty cleaning: $180
When’s the last time you really deep cleaned your home? Chances are, your life is busy, and while you keep up with the bathrooms and the vacuuming, your house could use some specialized attention before you list it. Home services website Thumbtack notes that professional cleaning for a 2,000 square foot home costs $160 to $200 (for an average of $180). It will be money well spent when a buyer falls in love with your house as soon as they look out your squeaky-clean kitchen windows and test-flush a sparkling toilet.
Professional real estate photos: $225
All right, you’ve painted your front door, landscaped, offloaded some of your belongings to storage, and cleaned. Now you’re ready to list your home! It’s a solid idea to hire a professional real estate photographer to capture your home’s best sides for the MLS listing. According to Thumbtack, you’ll be looking at $200 to $250 (average $225) to have professional photos taken of your house. There are ways to save money here (such as by hiring a photographer in the real estate offseason, which is usually winter), but also ways to spend much more. Drone photography is becoming common in the real estate world, and if you also ask the photographer to stage your home for the photos, they will charge you more.
All these average costs together come to $10,245. As mentioned above, we can’t say with any certainty what your exact costs will be. However, it’s a smart move to budget a chunk of money to help your home put its best foot forward for that listing. The money you spend on these improvements will likely net you more profit on the sale of your home.
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