Tips from a Local Real Estate Professional…..

On a fairly regular basis, I have someone tell me ’I’ll be selling my home in 2-3 years, but I want to start preparing now so that I can get the most out of it.’  Well, that is music to my ears, for several reasons. Early planning and preparation will reduce the stress of selling your home, reduce market time, and increase the final contract price once it is actually listed. Here are some of my favorite ‘tips’ for planning, preparation, and taking the stress out of home selling.

1) MAKE YOUR IMPROVEMENTS NOW! If you are going to make improvements to your home so that resale value is maximized, do it now. Don’t wait until you are ready to move out.  Your home ought to be your oasis, your getaway, your place to relax and enjoy.  A fresh, well-maintained, soothing environment will allow you to enjoy your home while you are still living there, and importantly will help maximize resale value down the road.  Reap the wonderful benefits of your improvements while you are still in the home.

2) APPEAL YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT.  In McHenry County, as well as most other places in Illinois, our home values have been negatively impacted by the property tax noose. Many sellers don’t consider how their tax burden will affect the ultimate sale price of their home. I encourage homeowners to consider appealing their tax assessments on a regular basis. If you don’t have the time, energy, or know-how, there are many attorneys that will do it for you, for a portion of one year’s tax savings. Heather Kroencke, of Zack, Coen, Wright, and Saladin, PC in Crystal Lake, is one resource you can turn to

3) CURB APPEAL IS KING. In our ever-more-visual society, buyers make immediate judgments about a home within moments of clicking on the new listing photo or doing a drive-by of the property. The home needs to look amazing good from the curb in order to gain interest, and garner top dollar. So, what elements make it amazing from the curbside? Here are two of my favorites, that are often overlooked.

Landscaping: fresh, tidy landscaping tells a buyer that the seller cares and that the future homeowner has one less major expenditure to worry about. If you’d like to assess the possibilities of your home’s landscaping, consider reaching out to Jean at Dream Gardens: Jean’s green trucks are easily recognized throughout McHenry County and a she is a favorite home partner to many locals.

Garage Doors: garage doors will often take up about 30-40% of a home’s front exterior. They are a huge opportunity to boost curb appeal, energy efficiency, and add value. Stylish looks like carriage house doors can be added to take your home’s look up to the next level. The 2018 Cost vs. Value Report indicates that moderate to upscale garage doors are the #1 project for home ROI. Call the garage experts at Superior Overhead Door in Crystal Lake to discuss the many options available:

4) STYLE MATTERS. When a buyer walks through the doors, they often make up their mind within the first 10 seconds if they are interested in a home. Why?  A home’s style and decor has an immediate emotional impact on the buyer. Today’s buyers are discriminating, and expect to be ‘wowed.’  But decorating a home can be intimidating and overwhelming. Luckily, we have some great local sources for home decor needs and design:  Judy Peplinski, of Fresh Look Interior Design, has helped hundreds of clients with interior re-design, color selection, and pre-market staging.  Another great local source is The team at Yours and Meyn can assist with everything from minor remodeling, to furniture, window treatments, accessories, and more. Visit them in their downtown Crystal Lake showroom to discuss your project and goals.

5) A WELL MAINTAINED HOME IS A SELLABLE HOME.  We all want a home that is well maintained and will stand the test of time.  Sometimes our demanding lives get in the way of regular maintenance, repairs, and upgrades.  From handyman services to remodeling, roofing, windows, and exterior paint and siding, we have a great local resource in the experts at Schafer Brothers Remodeling.   For heating, air conditioning, and plumbing related issues, a trusted local resource is Lifeline Heating Cooling and Plumbing:

Don’t let your building structure, systems, and mechanicals go neglected.  Neglect and deferred maintenance will most surely cause unexpected problems in the future, and buyer concerns when it’s time to sell your home.  A seller that is able to list many upgraded systems and recent structural replacements has a huge advantage.

6) CONSIDER A HOME PRE-INSPECTION. The biggest reason that real estate deals fall through is the home inspection.  Sellers are often unaware of issues that could lead to buyer concerns and costly repair requests.  Getting your home pre-inspected can illuminate potential issues, and allow you to handle them on your own timeframe, in a less stressful manner. An expert local home inspection resource is Pete Buss with Buss Inspections:

7) A FINAL WORD TO THE WISE.  Do not be afraid to put ‘smart money’ into your home as you move toward the goal of selling. I often tell my clients, ‘don’t be penny wise and pound foolish,’ and  ‘you’ve got to spend money to make money.’  These sayings could not be truer in the home sale process.  I get it, it’s difficult to spend money on a home that you aim to sell. And some sellers simply don’t have many funds to work with.  Get creative. See how you can chip away at some of these items over time, within budget.  Many of the great home partner resources I have mentioned in this article are willing to help you plan, budget, and prepare, in order to get the most out of your projects and ultimate home sale price.

-Mandy Montford is a residential Realtor with Baird & Warner in Crystal Lake