When Derek Vanderwarker bought his West Hartford home four years ago, he planned on staying in it awhile, but that recently changed.
"I had an opportunity with work to get promoted and relocated to New York City," Vanderwarker said.
He put his house up for sale, at a time when home sales in Connecticut are down 40%.
That’s where Keller Williams realtor Rob O’Meara comes in.
"We want them to see that the house is in great condition," O’Meara said.
O'Meara says it's important to make your house stand out in this market, and that may mean renovations.
"These days, with so many buyers and buyers being so picky, there are some other things that really help," O’Meara said.
The kitchen in Vanderwarker’s home was small and outdated when he moved in.
He made it bigger by knocking out walls and put in granite countertops and stainless appliances, with resale in mind.
"I was mindful to keep the cabinet colors neutral, keep the kitchen flexible," said Vanderwarker.
It’s a good idea.
Remodeling Magazine did the research and found you'll recoup 79% of the cost of a minor kitchen remodel in a Connecticut home.
"Buyers love to see a nice kitchen and a nice bathroom, but actually the things you get the most value back are siding, windows and decks,” O’Meara said.
You'll get an 81% return by replacing siding and installing new windows will get you a 77% return.
Building a wood deck will cost about $35 a foot, but you'll get 81% back when you go to sell.
If you don't have thousands to spend, there are some cheaper home fixes.
On a recent tour through Vanderwarker’s home, O’Meara pointed out some of the less expensive improvements.
"For example, this staircase had dings in the paint so we had the whole wall touched up,” O’Meara said as gestured to the wall that runs along the main staircase.
A little bit of paint goes a long way, especially when it comes to the front door.
"When I went to hang the lock box on the front door, I noticed that the front door was peeling paint and did not look good and that's going to be someone's first impression of this home,” O’Meara said.
So he recommended Vanderwarker paint it.
"That was a no brainer,” Vanderwarker said. “Grabbed my painter and said let's get it done."
Curb appeal really is key.
For less than $100, you can edge the lawn, plant some flowers and mulch the flower beds.
"If they don't like it from the outside,” O’Meara advises. “It's going to be tough for them to like it from the inside in a lot of cases."
Inside the home, putting crown molding in your living room makes a big impact for about $800.
Sanding wood floors will cost about $3 a foot, and get you off on the right foot with a buyer.
And if you can't afford to remodel the kitchen, consider getting a stainless refrigerator for as little as $800.
It says “new,” even if the rest of the kitchen isn't.
"A house that doesn't need work, that is priced well, is really what buyers are looking for right now," O’Meara said.
Vanderwarker has done the work, and is now just hoping it pays off.