Home Improvement Month: What Updates are Important When Buying and Selling?

May 21, 2019

May is Home Improvement Month, but we think giving your home a few upgrades is important no matter the time of year! Making sure your home is in top shape is especially important when you’re putting it on the market in order to get the best return on your investment (and of course, the most money in your pocket). When buying a home, it’s also important to consider what home improvements have been made to the house you’re about to purchase.

Knock advances you up to $10,000 in order to make any home improvements your current home may need in order to get it list-ready. This ensures you can maximize your profits without trying to find the funds right then and there. We understand the importance of showcasing your home in its best light, and we even do the work for you!

Because we employ a whole team of dedicated home preparations and listing experts, we have a wealth of knowledge about what upgrades matter and what you should consider before putting your home up for sale. Read on for tips and tricks of the trade to find out what matters when it comes to home improvement.

Selling Your Old House

Neutralize Your Space

So, what should you pay attention to in your own home when looking to sell? We chatted with Home Preparations Manager Cody Chastain;

Cody Chastain Knock Home Prep Manager
Cody Chastain

“General wear and tear is always going to happen on a home when it’s been lived in. Simple fixes like a fresh coat of paint throughout the house and replacement of old and worn carpeting can go a long way.”

Think about it, if you were going on a tour of your potential dream home, would you want to see stained carpeting and wall colors that didn’t jive with your personal decor? Giving the home a neutral feel helps the new potential homeowner envision themselves there. Of course, decluttering the space and removing your belongings helps as well.

This exact scenario happened with Knock clients, the Fernandez family. Their cheerful personalities matched the brightly painted walls that were present in every room of their old house. Knowing that their unique style wouldn’t be for everyone, they enlisted Knock’s help to neutralize the space.

Knock customers Home Improvement
The Fernandez Family

With 2 kids and thoughts of growing the family, Alex and Jessie F needed a bigger home, and found it in the perfect 4 bedroom with an office space for them to work remotely. Before they could settle into their new life, they needed to sell their current house. With its colorful walls and kitchen, the house needed quite a few updates before it could be ready for a buyer to envision the home as their own. But once they made some stunning upgrades, the house went on the market and received over 12 offers in the first weekend.

Our piece of advice? Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You may think your bright yellow bedroom is the bee’s knees, but it could be a major deal breaker for another family.

Consider Major Cosmetic Elements

So, what are the biggest cosmetic problem areas you should address? Kitchens and bathrooms. Chastain said,

“In order to get the best ROI, you should consider making upgrades to any outdated kitchens and bathrooms.”

Countertops, appliances, and even tile can go out of style quickly. If a potential buyer sees that you haven’t updated your powder room since the pastel tile days of the 1970s, you might just lose an offer.

Of course, a bathroom overhaul will be more costly than a simple paint job, but the results are arguably worth it. According to a 2018 report from Realtor.com, a bathroom remodel is a top investment when it comes to ROI, yielding a 70% return.

The same report shows a mid-range kitchen remodel yielding around 60% return. But, you don’t need to invest in a complete overhaul if you don’t want to lose that much capital; instead, focus on the details that need the most help, like outdated cabinets and counters.

The Outside Counts, Too

curb appeal

Don’t just think about the space within your home’s four walls. The external curb appeal is what makes a first impression on a buyer. Invest in a landscaping service or go the DIY route to make sure your house is presentable. Consider the age of your siding, the condition of any decks or stairs, as well as the doors and garage. You want to showcase the total package of the home, so consider the bigger picture.

In a recent Knock transformation in Atlanta, we gave one house a major facelift. The outside was in desperate need of new siding; after years of wear, the previous facade looked run down and unimpressive. The house was completely re-sided, leaving it looking good as new! The improved curb appeal helped find a buyer interested in making the home their own; it was sold within four days of going on the market!

before and after of a Knock home with new siding
Before & After - Siding Transformation

Buying a New Home

What to Look Out For

About 61% of people who are selling a home are also trying to buy their next one one at the same time (which is why Knock is the perfect solution for the majority). So, you don’t only have to consider the condition of your current home, but be aware of what the potential new houses offer. Buying a home is a big purchase, and you want to feel confident in the property you’ll be spending the next phase of your life in.

What are the elements you should ask about when doing research and home tours? The structure of the home.

“The quality of the roof and structure are the key things to consider when buying a new home. They’re the most expensive to fix and arguably the most important; the structure holds your house up and the roof protects everything in it.”

-Cody Chastain

The Sooner, The Better

Creating an open and honest dialogue about the home’s condition helps to avoid problems later. And this applies to the house you’re selling as well! Be upfront about any issues or concerns you’ve had so they can be addressed properly. If you fail to disclose information, you can end up with a terminated contract and a delay in either the selling or buying process.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider other elements we spoke about above, like paint, carpet, fixtures, and updates. If you’re not afraid of some DIY projects, you may just want to take these upgrades on yourself in order to negotiate a better purchase price. Or, if you want the work done for you, use it as part of the negotiations with the seller to see if they’ll address (and fund) fixing your pain points before the sale.

The Knock Process

Are you considering a move but know your current house needs some updating before it’s listed? As mentioned above, Knock can help! Our process is unique because we invest our time and money into your home to get it in the best possible shape it can be for the sale.

Kelly and Lauren F Knock customers
Kelly and Lauren F

Having home preparations completed on your behalf is a huge help for many of our customers who would not have been able to sell their homes without Knock. Take Kelly and Lauren F for example. Kelly is a pilot, and his job has him traveling for extended periods of time. Plus, the couple had two small children and one more on the way. They needed a bigger home, but didn’t have the bandwidth to get it ready to list, until Knock stepped in. Knock completed home preparations including a full paint, replacement of countertops with granite, and removal of rotten structure. The house was ready to list and Kelly and Lauren accepted an offer shortly after. Read more about the family here.

So, how exactly does the Knock Home Prep process work? Read on for the step-by-step series of events.

Getting the Lay of the Land

First, we get to know you! One of our team members will reach out to discuss your unique situation, what you’re looking for in a new home, and what you need in order to sell. Once you sign with Knock, that’s when the ball gets rolling.

Our Licensed Local Experts, or full-time salaried agents on our team, will then use their knowledge of the current market and comparable homes in your area to determine what preparations will be most beneficial to you as a seller. We’ll do an inspection to come up with a list of items (and the cost of each) that we believe you should consider fixing in order to get the highest sale price.

We send out a member of our Home Prep team to take a tour of your home, assess the current state of it, and provide feedback to the rest of the team. From there, we generate a report that lets both Knock and you know what areas are in need of improvement.

Of course, as the homeowner, you have the final say on what you want to move forward with. If you don’t believe your home needs a new paint job, we’ll leave it as is. But, we will provide guidance and explain the ROI of each home improvement.

Hitting the Pavement

Once the scope of the work is complete, we send the contract over to you for revisions and final approval. Then, we get to work! Knock will coordinate and schedule all contractors on your behalf and manage the entire process for you, all while you’re comfortably in your new home. You can also choose to use your own contractors, or complete the upgrades yourself if you’re handy. Giving you these options allows you to remain in control to get the job done however you see fit.

Wrapping it Up

Once your home is in tip-top shape, we schedule a final walk through and a photographer to come take your updated MLS pictures for listing. From there, the listing goes live and you sit back and wait for the offers to roll in.

Knock’s mission is to make the buying and selling process as efficient and convenient as possible. This is why we step in to coordinate and execute home prep on your behalf. Moving is crazy enough - let us make it that much simpler!

In Closing

May is Home Improvement Month, but we know that making sure a home is in the best shape it can be is important no matter the time of year. The health of the home should be considered on both sides of the real estate transaction, when putting your old house up for sale and finding a new one to buy.

With the Knock Home Trade-In program, we help you prepare your house for listing, so you can minimize your efforts while maximizing your profit. Looking to make a move?


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Since 2015, Knock has been on a mission to make homeownership simple and certain. We’re creating a world where the pains of traditional home buying and selling are a thing of the past.
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