Home & Garden

Selling a modest house in an upscale area

Focus on the details when you’re trying to sell in a high-end neighborhood.
Focus on the details when you’re trying to sell in a high-end neighborhood. AP

Some years ago, most people followed the old adage repeated by real estate pros: “Buy the least expensive house in the best neighborhood you can afford.”

Back then, you didn’t have the means to buy an upscale place in the area you chose, so you had to settle for second-best. Now that you must sell, how can you and your listing agent present the house in such a way as to make the most of the situation?

Here are a few pointers for the sellers of a modest home in a classy area:

1 Don’t overshoot on price.

Sellers who overshoot on price at the outset can be severely punished later, especially if the property lingers unsold for a long time and all the excitement drains away.

Then you may have to sharply discount the house to get it sold, says Joan McLellan Tayler, the author of several real estate books.

2 Make the appearance of your front yard a priority.

Though the yard in front of your modest property may lack the grandeur of the grounds around other nearby homes, you’ll still benefit significantly from landscape upgrades, says Mark Nash, author of “1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home.”

Consider hiring a landscape designer to create an overall plan for your yard, emphasizing blooming plants. Then to save money, do your own installation of the trees and shrubs included in the plan.

3 Focus on fine detailing for minor upgrades to your interior. Nash says you can expect to be well compensated for money outlays on quality interior improvements.

“Though your house is small, top-grade detailing gives potential buyers visual clues that you fit into the neighborhood. Perceptive purchasers appreciate fine moldings, well-chosen paint colors and specialty wallpaper,” he says.

“A superb paint job can iron out lots of flaws.”

4 Zero in on your floors. Many brand-new homes still feature wall-to-wall carpet, especially in bedrooms. But Nash says an increasing number of buyers, including many young millennials, favor hardwood floors.

“Hardwood is architecturally elegant and conveys good taste. In contrast, wall-to-wall carpeting seems retro and tired,” he says.

Nash urges sellers who already have hardwood floors to consider getting them refinished.

5 One way to enhance your home’s appearance is to hire a professional home stager recommended by your listing agent. Or heed the advice of Nash and engage an interior designer for an hour or two of advice on furniture arrangement and paint colors.

One source for referrals is the American Society of Interior Designers (www.asid.org).

“For that small house in an elite neighborhood, a minor makeover can make a world of difference to your success as a seller,” Nash says.