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Most home values are baked in. But you can increase a Northeast LA house sale price a bit, and shorten its time on the market, with quick fixes.

Where it comes to selling a home there are the things you can’t change, the things you can change – and one hopes to have the wisdom to know the difference.

To be clear, the structural condition of a home, how many square feet, how many bedrooms, the number of baths and the datedness (or newness) of a kitchen are critical factors that would cost a lot of money to change. In most instances, it’s better to let the buyer make it their decision to spend $50,000 on a kitchen update, to add on to the house, or to replace the windows. Your location is what it is, along with the school district in which it lies (and which affects value, regardless if buyers have children or not). 

But there are several things that can be done with a small investment of time and money that will yield a better price. Just as important, it can move it higher on the list for buyers and will likely help it sell sooner. 

Neither benefit of quick fixes is trivial. Real estate in Northeast LA – from homes in Highland Park, Pasadena and Eagle Rock to homes for sale in Glassell Park, Mt. Washington, Garvanza and Hermon – are certainly popular and rising in value. Yet it’s possible that a house sold for $750,000 might have sold a month or two faster, perhaps for $760,000, had the seller invested $500 in making the home just a tad more attractive.

What are the factors that can make a difference? We break them into things to do, ideas to share – and an outside opinion:

Things to do: Words to guide you are, “wipe the place clean.” This means ridding your home of anything that distracts buyers from seeing themselves moving into your home. Most homes could have at least half the furniture removed to increase the sense of space. Ideally a spanking new kitchen and bathrooms would be great, but short of that you can paint – walls, cabinets, and even appliances sometimes – to neutralize the color palette and bring parts into cohesion (e.g., dingy laminate kitchen cupboards can be painted in a color that complements the counters and backsplash). Very often light and air makes a difference: remove heavy drapes and replace with blinds or sheers to brighten a room.

Ideas: What makes a house a home includes more than just the physical property. It’s about neighborhood, community and lifestyle. This should be inventoried and communicated. Things like the quality and distance to schools matter, as does a neighborhood’s walkability (see, access to parks and recreation, and “lifestyle retail,” things like coffee shops, restaurants, cultural venues, houses of worship and the like. Write up a list and share it with realtors and potential buyers.

Outside opinion: On all of the above and other factors as well, get opinions from a trusted Realtor. They can tell you the brown bathroom needs an update, the stained kitchen sink should be replaced, if a privacy fence would make the backyard feel cozier, and how to arrange potted plants by the front door to increase its curb appeal.

Important to remember is you are selling a house that was your home but will become the home of someone new. Yes, your life happened there and if you’re lucky it was a happy home. But it’s time to let go, to allow someone smart to buy it and make it theirs. Become dispassionate about it – follow your Realtor’s advice, think of the house as a magnificent product that will adapt to its next buyer, and clean it up as if it’s going on a date. Someone will fall in love with it.

tracy 150x175With over 30 years experience in helping clients buy and sell homes in Northeast Los Angeles, Tracy King has a depth of real estate knowledge that makes her the go-to for both the first-time home buyer and the seasoned real estate investor. When she's not holding open houses or negotiating offers, Tracy enjoys wine tasting, cooking, or planning her next trip to Paris. If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Los Angeles, contact the Tracy King Team at 626.827.9795 or