by Kara D. Hill

While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a dampener on the process of buying and selling within the real estate market, it hasn’t completely stalled. Unlike the devastating blow to the real estate market during the great recession of 2008, real estate and economic experts are predicting a much brighter future for the market after the coronavirus pandemic.

Zillow economic expert, Skylar Olsen anticipates a 2-3% drop in home prices by October 2020. This is drastically lower than the 9.5% record drop in 2008 and is much easier to recover from. Olsen reported that the housing market is much more resilient than it was in 2008 and with the projected housing shortage going into 2021, selling during the pandemic is doable.

It is important to consider the projected 2-3% drop in housing prices when preparing to list your home. Boosting value by 2-3 % before listing can help curb some of the anticipated loss; however, it is also important to keep overhead low when making repairs. Therefore, experts from all across the field recommend the following to help boost home value without sinking copious amounts of money into your home.

  1. Deep clean and declutter
    Since stay-at-home orders and social distancing have commandeered modern-day selling, it is important to adapt when selling your home. Many real estate agents are utilizing zoom and other virtual methods to provide potential buyers with a “walk-through” experience while adhering to the social distancing guidelines. Reducing clutter to make rooms, hallways and bathrooms appear larger is important especially since potential buyers aren’t able to see the rooms firsthand. Keep hallways clear and be sure to deep clean any baseboards, backsplash and walls.
  2. Pay attention to the front door
    The front door of your home is generally the focal point and the first thing people see from the street. If you have a painted front door, be sure to paint a fresh coat to make it pop. If the front door is in poor shape—i.e not salvageable by a little sanding and fresh coat of paint, consider replacing it altogether. It is also important to take a look at the lockset and house numbers to ensure that the style is not outdated or in poor condition. Try a coat of polish if the lockset is relatively new to refresh the look and hide any scratches. Remember: the key here is to polish what is already there, so give it a go before buying all new hardware.
  3. Throw a paint party
    Dan DiClerico, a smart home expert from Home Advisor believes that a fresh coat of paint if done well, can add 1-3 % to a home’s final sale price. While paint is relatively inexpensive, it can add up if you are hiring a painting crew. Therefore, DiClerico does not recommend painting the entire house. Instead, painting the high-traffic and first impression areas such as the front door, main entryway, kitchen and bathrooms, drastically improve the overall look and value of the house. Consider painting over any bright or loud colors with a more neutral tone.
    Pro Tip: Be sure to tape around decorative molding, the windows and the ceiling to avoid splatter and unclean lines.
  4. Upgrade your lighting and appliances
    Old dingy appliances or outdated light fixtures can reduce the value of a home drastically. If you have old countertop appliances (toasters, microwaves) that can’t be saved by deep cleaning, move them to the garage before a showing or virtual recording of the home. Use a stainless-steel polish on any additional appliances to buff out minor scratches and add a nice shine.
    Swapping out old light fixtures can become expensive very quickly. If you are on a budget, replace broken light fixtures first, then consider replacing the most outdated or visually unappealing fixtures.
  5. Spend some time on the patio or yard
    Adding flowers, potted plants or patio pavers are a great way to boost the curb appeal of your home. Annuals are cheap, come in packs of 6 or 12 and instantly make a barren garden look polished. Stick to a select few colors that coordinate with the house to avoid color overload and be sure to add lots of green foliage to the walkway.
    If you have a flower garden add a top layer of mulch to provide a fresh look. Be sure to weed first and water!
  6. Paint the grout
    The kitchen and bathroom tend to be the most expensive and lived-in areas in the house. They also tend to have the most tile. If your tile and grout are in relatively good condition, consider painting the grout lines to give them a fresh look. It’s also wise to consider re-caulking the bathtub, shower, toilet and sink. Grout paint and caulk are both inexpensive and easy to apply even for the most novice DIY-er. If your bathroom is outdated, consider adding a new vanity or pedestal sink. Both are easy to install and can be completed in a few hours.
  7. Go Second hand and help the community
    Appliances, light fixtures, pedestal sinks and vanities can usually be found in great condition for half the price at great places like the Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store. Often you can find new tile, light fixtures, appliances, doors and even windows at significantly lower costs than at leading home goods stores. The profits made from Re-store items are pumped back into the community to fight housing inequality. Consider checking out your local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, or similar organization and save yourself money, while helping the community