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Investing to sell your Mexico real estate

J. Brad Grieve

Home in Lake Chapala
© Karen Blue

Recently, I have been helping my wife's family to sell their home in Guadalajara.

It is located in a community near a popular shopping center and is located in front of a large community park and local church. It has been tough process, since there is some dissension in the family because one member does not want to restore or renovate the property, and just sell it "as is."

The question is valid however; let's investigate why we should invest money and effort to renovate.

Obviously, to help sell the house, we want the house to be as presentable as possible to provide a good first impression and remove any doubt about past or future maintenance. If we can remove as many objections about the property, it will make the buyer feel more comfortable about making an offer on the home and perceive their future in it.

But what are the best things to do when renovating a home to sell in order to maximize the return on the effort and money invested in renovations with the best sale price?

Some of the best investments are the simplest and overall the least expensive to do. First is to clean and remove all clutter from a home. Cleanliness of a home is paramount. Think of the objections a potential buyer would have if there were pet smells, dirty bathrooms, stained carpets and grime around a cooking area. The buyer is looking at the house as a place to live and, if they feel it is dirty, they will feel uncomfortable and even unsafe. It would feel like moving into a cheap hotel used before by thousands of strangers.

Removing clutter includes excess furniture, too many pictures on the wall, too many plants, and other forms of "stuff" that has accumulated in the house. Clutter makes the home feel that it has less space and can even restrict the flow of traffic in the home.

Investments in these two ideas can provide over a 900% return on the money invested.

Paint is a common renovation project and — especially — the interior painting can have a big impact on the buyer. In general, painting will help with the sense of cleanliness of the home and also reduce the impression that the home needs maintenance. Choose warm and neutral colors that can be appealing to the majority of the buyers rather than choosing decorator colors that may be objectionable to some buyers. Investment on interior painting can provide up to a 150% return on what is invested.

Another simple concept is keeping the house light and bright. Clean skylights. Open curtains to expose clean windows. Replace burned out bulbs (or existing bulbs) with higher wattage bulbs that provide more light — this will create a warmer feeling in the house. In my opinion, incandescent bulbs provide warmer light (color). However, there are compact fluorescent bulbs that have warm light as well. Dark spaces within a home make it feel less welcoming and not as cheerful. These minor investments can have over an 800% return.

Landscaping is often overlooked but is an item that helps with the buyer's first impression. Everything needs to be green and, hopefully, with some color from flowers. Dead or overgrown plants, uncut lawns and brown patches on the lawn as a buyer walks up to the house, would cause them to feel the house is neglected. But a garden or lawn that is green and healthy provides a feeling of peace and relaxation. These can be accomplished as simply as regular watering and adding fertilizer. Investment on gardening can provide up to a 400% return on what is invested.

Bathrooms and kitchens are key spaces within the home and their cleanliness and appearance are very important for the sale of a home. Remove the clutter and have open spaces in the bathroom and kitchen countertops. Consider replacing the toilet seat or very old and dated fixtures. Replace loose or leaking faucet fixtures and make sure the toilet flushes without difficulty. Clean or redo the grout lines, install new caulk around countertops, sinks, tubs and showers. These jobs are generally low-cost and can have up to a 250% return on what is invested.

And finally, the concept of staging should also be considered. Fresh flowers, home baking aromas and soft instrumental music or nature sounds can provide an ambience that will help provide the hospitable feeling is needed to attract the right buyer. These small investments can provide up to a 250% return on investment.

With these rates of return on investment, it would be illogical to keep your money in the bank while waiting to sell your home.

Published or Updated on: November 27, 2010 by J. Brad Grieve © 2010
Contact J. Brad Grieve

J. Brad Grieve is a professional civil engineer who has lived and worked in the Lake Chapala area since 1994. He is the owner of Ajijic Home Inspections and you can be reach him by phone: (376) 766-2836 or e-mail.

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