Live well now, sell high later

KeanmoldingYou know what’s so sad about Designed to Sell, one of my favorite TV shows?

It’s that the homeowners spent years in an awkward, cluttered, unattractive home until it was time to sell . . . and then they made it nice. Does that make sense? Why not make it nice five years in advance — spending the same time and money — and then have five years of good-looking living?

So the question is: What upgrades can you do now that will make your house exciting to buyers later?

I asked Prudential California Realty agent David Kean what really turns on Los Angeles buyers, and here’s what he said:

1) Landscaping: If the house does not appeal to buyers from the street they won’t even walk in the door.

2) Paint: It’s not expensive considering the impact it makes. Keep it neutral. I suggest a great shade of French vanilla or coffee with lots of cream. They are more interesting than builder’s white, but go with anything.

3) Wood floors: Buyers go nuts for wood floors. Keep it neutral with a medium shade wood.

4) Moldings: Crown and base moldings add tons of character and sophistication at a relatively low cost. Crown molding can actually make a low ceiling seem higher. Keep the architecture in mind when picking the moldings. California Ranch on the outside and Louis XVI on the inside is jarring to say the least.

5) Replace ugly kitchen counters: If you can’t afford granite use solid surface or laminate in a neutral shade. Do the same in the bath if it’s in the budget. If the counters are nice, go for stainless appliances in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home and needs to have a wow factor.

Got a question or comment for David on the appeal of your upgrades to future buyers? Post a comment below.

(Crown molding and painted ceiling by David Kean. Photo by Lawrence K. Ho, LA Times)