One of the hardest parts of being a listing agent is trying to get sellers to see their house in a new way. Many people have a great deal of pride in their homes. Others are very stoic, adopting the philosophy, 'It was good enough for me.'
When selling your home, nothing is more important than understanding the expectation of the buyer. For several years, buyers understood the stance, 'It was good enough for me.' Now, they no longer have to accept that as the final word. Buyers now expect a house to be in pristine condition and priced competitively.
This brings me to the all-important kitchen and bath remodel. If you have never updated your kitchen, and everyone else in your neighborhood has, you need to be willing to offer your house at below-market pricing or put some money in to fixing up your kitchen--and I don't mean changing knobs (the same goes for bathrooms, although a complete remodel is not always necessary; sometimes freshening the hardware, faucets and paint can do the job). I am not advocating a top-of-the-line remodel, but new counter tops, faucet, appliances and, in come cases, cabinets and flooring may be necessary.
I am sure, as a seller, your blood is beginning to boil about now. I can almost hear you saying (because I have heard many people say it before), 'why would I spend money redoing my kitchen when I just want to sell my house--the new buyer is going to rip it all out anyway.' That may or may not be true, but it is not your concern. Your main objective is to sell your house. What the buyer does after they hand you the check does not matter. What matters to you as a seller (and really, the only thing) is presenting your house in such a way that you get a fair offer on your property.
Not everyone is in a position to do a kitchen remodel before selling their house. In this case, the key to making your house competitive in a market where most homes have been updated is to price it below market value. A real estate agent can help you compare comps in your area and price the house accordingly.
What? That is not fair, is it? Below market value? I am sure your house is just as good as the one next door--but if it doesn't have the fancy kitchen it is not worth as much to the buyer. Buyers, and their agents have access to this information and will not be willing to pay the same amount of money for a basic house as for one that is remodeled.
Recently I have seen sellers place their homes on the market at premium pricing without remodeling their kitchens...guess what? These homes are sitting. Buyers look at the property and automatically add $25,000 to $75,000 on to the asking price, which knocks them out of the competition. If history proves true, these seller will end up having to reduce the price to a point that is lower than what they would have gotten if they had put some money in to the kitchen and kept the premium price point.
By recognizing this, and thinking like a buyer, you can properly price and position your home to sell at a fair price and in a reasonable amount of time.