Invest in value-adding improvements for a better price

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By Joseph Wong

If there is one thing to be learned from all those home improvement and renovation shows on TV, it is this underlying message: To get a higher price for any home, be it a house, apartment or condominium unit, looks appeal. And once buyers are hooked, the negotiation for a better price is in the hands of the seller.

Determining which home improvements to invest in can be daunting and costs can quickly add up. The key is to focus on projects that offer the highest return on investment. A quick check on the selling prices of similar properties nearby can provide an estimate of how much to spend on renovation work.

Therefore, efforts should be maximised to create a wow effect that appeals to targeted buyers. Minor kitchen upgrades are typically a wise choice. The heart of the home is the kitchen  and many buyers judge a property by it. While a complete overhaul can be costly, minor updates offer the greatest return. Resurfacing cabinets, replacing countertops, applying a fresh coat of paint, or updating fixtures and hardware can suffice. Updating a bathroom is another smart investment, according to a close realtor contact. Renovated kitchens and baths are the money rooms that add the most value to a home, he said.

The curb appeal

For landed properties, make sure the front yard or car park entrance is free of debris. Grss should be trimmed and bushes, if any, pruned. Some other easy updates that can improve curb appeal include touching up exterior paint and gate as this will be the first thing buyers see. 

Greenery is always refreshing as it adds a lively touch, hence, potted plants with fresh green leaves create a conducive environment, especially with the hot Malaysian sun. 

On the topic of pricing, setting the price too high can deter potential buyers. This is where the expertise of your agent becomes invaluable. A knowledgeable agent understands the fair market value in your area, knows the worth of your house and can provide a realistic expectation of what you might achieve in the current market.

Stage your home

When staging your home, there are two essential guidelines: Less is more and keep it neutral. It is crucial to capture buyers’ interest right from the front door, paying extra attention to the entryway by repainting, adding flowers and investing in a new area rug, an impressive mirror or a dramatic piece of art.

Remove objects and clutter that visually shrink a room such as a large sofa set or oversized coffee table. Clear everything off kitchen counters except for one or two new-looking appliances. Most importantly, remove all the personal items as this would only clutter up a home and dampen buyers’ appeal. The goal of any showing is to help buyers envision their own belongings in the space. Personal items can be distracting, making it difficult for buyers to see themselves living there. They are focused on where their own furniture will go and how it will fit. It's the home they came to see, not the items inside it.

Use professional photos

Investing in high-quality photography can significantly increase the chances of your home selling for a higher price. According to a realtor, "A picture tells a thousand words. If the photos pop, it can translate into a higher sale price and a faster sale." However, the goal of these photographs isn't to reveal everything online. It's to entice potential buyers enough to want to see the property in person. "If they don’t come to see the house, there’s little chance of them buying it," he added.

Finally, try to remove emotion from the equation and view the process as a straightforward transaction. Remember that your home is now a product for sale, not your personal sanctuary. Prospective buyers may request credits or repairs and it is easy to take offence as a seller. However, it is important to understand which issues and items you may be willing to negotiate on.

Remember, buyers usually do not expect to get everything they ask for. Evaluate the validity and fairness of their requests and be prepared to offer some concessions. The real cost isn’t in making the concession, it’s in losing the buyer, relisting the property, starting the process over and potentially receiving a lower offer.

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