Local Realtors Offer Home Improvement Tips

Get your house market-ready with a few simple tips from our local experts.
Angela Truelsen and Patty Yorks in a home staged to sell.

The biggest mistake homeowners make when putting their house on the market is trying to sell, rather than solve, a home’s problems, according to Patty Yorks, a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Wayzata. Instead, she says sellers should focus on making strategic home improvements that update and refresh the home, making it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves in the space.

We asked Yorks and her daughter Angela Truelsen, also an agent with Coldwell Banker Burnet and a Plymouth resident, about the best places to make improvements that give a good return on investment when you’re ready to sell.

Yorks and Truelsen agree that the simplest, most cost effective way to heighten a home’s appeal is with a fresh coat of paint as well as a contemporary and pared-down decorating scheme.

“Just updating the furniture and colors can make a house feel totally different,” says Yorks. She suggests hiring a professional stager to help you reconfigure your furniture or find rental pieces, and pick paint colors that will appeal to today’s buyer. “I had a home that was staged after a year on the market and it sold within a month,” she says. “The only things that changed were the paint and the furniture.”

Investing in new fixtures and appliances is also high on their list of must-dos, especially in older homes that are competing with new construction.

“If you have an older kitchen but the appliances are newer, people see that this house has been taken care of and they’re more confident that it’s not a money pit,” says Truelsen. While remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can add value to a property, it’s a big expense, especially for an older home. She says that installing new lighting fixtures, updating faucets and adding a stainless-steel appliance or two are good ways to get some of the appeal of a remodel without the high price tag.

Don’t forget to spruce up the home’s exterior, too. “Curb appeal is huge,” says Yorks. Make sure to have high-quality photos of your home’s façade and landscaping, as buyers typically look at photos of a house online when deciding which ones to tour.

Most importantly, don’t overlook the basics. Yorks suggests having a professional inspect your home for signs of mold and mildew; they can also point out damaged or aging parts of the house that might jeopardize a deal.

“You don’t want to get your home on the market and have everything set, then an inspector says you have to tear out the siding and the deal falls apart,” Yorks says. “Fix what needs to be fixed so it doesn’t hit after you’ve negotiated a price.”

Yorks also cautions against going overboard on custom projects that might not add real value from the buyer’s perspective. “Updates are good, but there is a limit,” she says. “Just because you put in a ten grand sound system doesn’t mean you’ll see a return on it.”

Truelsen notes that wireless technology has made it easier to update a home’s entertainment and security systems without breaking the bank (or ripping out the ceiling), but that sellers should also focus on the community’s selling points when trying to market an older home.

“Plymouth is great for families with young kids,” says Truelsen. In addition to great schools and an easy commute to most of the metro area, Truelsen points out that Plymouth also offers the lifestyle that young families want. “It’s easy to make friends, the neighborhoods are all very social,” she says. “There are family-friendly events like movies in the park and concerts, plus great facilities like pools and the Plymouth Ice Center.”