Jun 08

Home Improvement in Colorado Springs’ Soft Market

When you are thinking about home improvement, be clear about your goal.  If your goal is resale, then proceed with caution. Colorado Springs Real Estate has lost considerable value this past year. As we look ahead and hope to see a recovery in 2008, it’s important to know that the competition is still fierce. You will lose part of the money you invest in your home at this point. With that said, there are many situations where fix-up may be required to keep you competitive.

Best Home Improvements in a Declining Market:

1. Paint – take a weekend and give your home a face lift. It may need paint inside or outside. The harsh sun in Colorado Springs can cause a home’s exterior to peel after about 5 years. Make sure that a buyer’s first impression is positive. Paint the front door and add a new kick plate.  On the inside, think about either touching up with the paint you have, or choosing something more neutral. Home Depot has decorators on staff who will come to your house for a modest rate and help you choose pleasing colors that not only match what you have, but give your home a fresh, modern feel. If you want to find paint that matches what you have, most home improvement stores can match from chip you peel off the wall.

2. Landscaping – the condition of your yard can make or break a sale. Landscaping can be an expensive improvement, so work with what you have and polish it a little. A dead lawn is a huge turn off.  If there is any life left, rake what you have, edge along the driveway and side walk, sprinkle some seeds and Start Watering! If it’s winter, work on keeping your driveway, lawn, rocks and beds free from debris. Remove tree limbs and leaves. Add some fresh stones to your rock areas. In spring, add potted flowers. If your yard is a complete do-over, compare the cost of new sod to what a buyer is likely to pay if you leave it as-is. Xeriscape is becoming common in Colorado Springs because of water issues. Rock and low-water plants are great alternatives to grass.  Ask your Realtor to help you compare your home to others in your area.

3. Kitchen – a beautiful kitchen is indeed a huge selling feature in home, but a kitchen remodel is normally something you do in a hot market, or a home you plan to keep. If you are selling and your kitchen isn’t looking its best, look for areas to polish. If the walls need paint, that’s the place to start. Make sure the cabinets are very clean. Depending on their condition, oiling them with furniture oil can really make them glow. Make sure your appliances are spotlessly clean and replace any broken handles. Stage the table or counter top with place settings. You can buy a few great accents like plates and placemats at a dollar store.

4. Flooring – makes a big impression. If your floors are in bad shape, you may have to compare the cost of replacing them to selling the house as-is. Whenever possible, clean and stretch carpets and look in to having your hardwood refinished. For a couple dollars a square foot, your house can go from Yikes to Wow!

5. Lighting – “Light and bright” are words Realtors love to use in their advertising. Make sure you are letting in as much Colorado sun as possible. Keep light in mind when you choose your paint color. Artificial light is also important. Replacing dated fixtures can be worth every penny. But make a plan so you know what it will cost before you whip out your credit card. Consider adding a motion-sensor switch so the lights come on automatically when a buyer enters a room. If you have a home that may not sell because of a dark living room or kitchen, consider a “solar tube”. These ingenious skylights cost between $600 and $800 to have installed and look like a flush mounted light fixture. They bring the sun in and change the whole feeling of a previously dark space.

6. Bedroom – make your bedroom welcoming. Take this opportunity to give away things you may not really need or want. Make sure everything else has a place. Put away most of your personal photos. You want the next buyer to feel this could be their room. Organize you hanging clothes by color. Your investment here could be in some inexpensive art, window coverings and bedding. If you need ideas, check out home magazines, or go to a new community near you where the builder has staged model homes. You’ll get great ideas.

There are bound to be some questions specific to your situation. When in doubt, seek advice. Know your market and your competition before you spend a dime.