When you’re working to sell a duplex, keep this old cliche in mind – buyers aren’t looking for reasons to buy, they’re looking for reasons not to buy.
In today’s sellers’ market, there are plenty of duplexes out there on the market, and buyers have the luxury of being pickier than ever. Yes, even duplex buyers!
Some investment property owners make the mistake of thinking that improvements are irrelevant for duplexes, that investors aren’t looking for anything too fancy or anything that’s in perfect condition.
While it’s true that there’s a difference between “rental quality” and “homeowner quality” it’s important to keep in mind that the standard is high in either case. Even investors that never plan to live in their property want to ensure that it’s in great shape and will command high rental rates for the neighborhood that its located in.
1. Maximize Curb Appeal
Buyers determine a property’s value seconds after pulling up – how does your duplex stand up?
Would-be buyers are constantly driving past homes without ever entering. In many cases, they’re able to determine just by a home’s exterior that it isn’t the one for them.
First impressions are important and they set the tone for the entire process that a buyer goes through when considering your property as a home or investment. Many investment property owners fail to think of their property’s exterior in this way, but it really does matter.
The good news is that improving a duplex’s curb appeal is a high reward, low-risk transaction.
For starters, consider painting. Getting your house painted is easy, cost-effective, and extremely significant in turning the tides from a buyer’s perspective in many cases.
Besides painting, consider the simple improvements that can be made to make a better first impression on buyers:
- Re-touches on the Front Porch
- Fixing Anything that’s in Disrepair
- Keeping Up with the Landscaping
For the same reason we recommend sprucing up your property’s curb appeal, we also recommend ensuring that a buyer’s first glimpse into your duplex’s interior meets or even exceeds their expectations. Consider how your property’s entryway could make a better impression.
- Switching out Fading Door Mats
- Considering More Neutral Artwork
- Ensuring that shoes and jackets are out of sight
Do whatever it takes to get started on the right foot.
2. Utilize Common Space
Consider a buyer’s emotions when they walk through – will they feel at home in your property’s common spaces?
Another great investment is in your property’s common spaces – in both units. In many cases, this area is the one that tenants neglect and leave in subpar condition.
Before opening up your property to showings, take the time to ensure that you take advantage of the potential to appeal to a buyers’ emotions.
Buyers want to feel like the common space is welcoming and warm – not smelly or stale.
Believe us when we say it – most potential buyers are likely to lose interest immediately if they don’t get the “welcoming” feel that they expect from this room. If it smells or has other major issues, they’re almost sure to turn around and leave.
If you’re looking to improve the common space in your property, follow this process:
- Ensure first that it’s well-lit. Repair any broken light fixtures and switch out any light bulbs that are burnt out.
- After you’ve done that, turn to flooring next. Get rid of any nasty carpet or old rugs – replacing them with something nicer.
- Consider if your common spaces look cluttered or worn down and think about how you can make them look more inviting.
3. Focus on Owner-Occupants
Some of the best buyers are owner-occupants – how do they react when they see your property?
When duplex owners think of selling their duplex, they think first of investors. These are often the wealthiest kind of buyer, and it would seem to make sense to assume that they would come in with the highest purchasing prices.
The reality, however, is the opposite. Buyers that are owner-occupiers are much more likely to pay top dollar for your duplex because they are more emotionally invested and are planning to actually live in the property themselves.
We recommend that duplex owners target owner-occupants when they sell so that they can get the most from their property. Believe it or not, roughly 60 – 70% of the transactions we see are sold to owner-occupants.
We encourage our clients not to be afraid of FHA or contingent offers from owner-occupiers. Instead, we see it as an opportunity to get the highest possible selling price.
Owner-occupying duplexes is a new phenomenon that’s just starting to be discovered, so it’s best to prepare for the idea that your buyer might be one.
What would an owner-occupier think if they walked through this property?
Here’s what we think – owner-occupiers are a lot more engaged in the buying process, and to them, investing isn’t strictly a numbers game.
Yes, these buyers do want to make good investments where the numbers work, but they are a little more flexible on how that can be done. They’ll be a little more open to negotiating because they realize how competitive the market is. The slight uptick in demand as of late is all that it took to completely shake up the limited Minneapolis duplex market so that owner-occupiers are left with far fewer choices.
Because of this emotional involvement in the purchase process, a change that would cost you just a few thousand dollars to make could increase your duplex’s value by 50, 60, or even 70 thousand dollars – you just have to ensure that you’re making the right kind of changes.
4. Fix Up Kitchens and Baths
Buyers are increasingly looking for turnkey solutions. How many touch-ups would your kitchens and bathrooms require?
Don’t be intimidated by this subheading – in most cases, we don’t recommend a full-on bathroom or kitchen remodel. That said, it can be extremely important to fix some of the most worn out features in each.
Keep in mind that most people’s eyes go directly to whatever’s at the midpoint in your kitchen and bathroom. Typically, this is where you’ll find:
Because of that, it’s important to assure that these features are appealing and add to the perceived value of the home.
Countertops specifically can add an incredible amount of value in the eyes of a buyer. If you update them to a style that buyers find appealing, it could add incredible value to your property.
Keep in mind that many duplex buyers are stretching themselves to make an investment purchase and don’t have lots of money left over for additional investments once they’ve made their decision. Because of that, they’re interested in a property that looks a little bit more turnkey.
Other huge value differentiators are updated flooring and modern/stainless steel appliances. Consider each depending on how your kitchens and bathrooms look.
5. Hire a House Cleaning Service
Don’t force anyone to look past the mess – many buyers won’t even try.
This is no joke. We’re serious about cleanliness.
As a duplex owner, keep in mind that your tenants get absolutely nothing out of any transaction that you make. In many cases, they’re completely unmotivated to help you sell a property. Why stress out about cleaning everything up when it’s all for nothing but a gigantic hassle?
A professional cleaning service can help to keep your property in top-notch shape so that it sells for what it’s worth.
Buyers often have very little imagination, and they don’t want to think hard to see past dust, grime, and filth – they just want to see the place as clean as it could be when they walk through.
Unless your property is already spotless, a cleaning service could be well worth the investment. Your tenants might even appreciate the free service.
Not sure where to turn first or what to invest in? We’ll evaluate your property at absolutely no charge. We’re the number one seller of duplexes in Minneapolis for a reason – we know what we’re doing. We won’t recommend pointless upgrades that cost you money, but we will set you up for success so that you can get your dream price from the duplex you’re selling.
Also published on Medium.