Preparing a home for the market can seem like a full-time job — without the paycheck. While upgrades can increase your home’s value and speed up its sale, it’s easy to spend more on home improvement than you will recoup when you sell.
Fortunately, it’s not usually necessary to invest in major projects like a full kitchen remodel to make your house attractive to buyers. Let’s take a look at some minor tweaks you can make to your home that will increase its value when it’s time to sell, without breaking the bank.
Take your home from shabby to sensational with surface upgrades
The lived-in look is perfectly acceptable for a home, until it goes on the market. Shabby, stained or scratched-up surfaces can keep buyers from seeing your home’s real charm. A few simple cosmetic upgrades can make all the difference.
- Power-wash the exterior. Vinyl, brick, concrete, wood decks and other exterior surfaces can start to look dingy and drab after years of collecting airborne dust. A quick power wash will make them look fresh and attractive again.
- Patch and paint. A simple coat of paint can make a shabby-looking room bright and appealing. Taking the little bit of extra time to patch cracks and nail holes will make your paint job look even cleaner. When choosing paint, go for neutral colors for the majority of the house. Warm whites, tans and grays will allow prospective buyers to see the home, not just the walls. However, don’t be afraid to include a colored accent wall or two, or a little color on the bathroom walls. This can add a bit of character to your home and help it stand out in people’s minds. Just don’t go overboard with wild color. Soft blues, greens and teals are generally safe; pink and orange are good colors to avoid.
- Replace caulk. When you are selling your home, try to keep it looking as pristine as possible. Old caulk frequently looks stained and unsightly even if it’s clean. This can detract from the appearance of your kitchen or bathroom. Replacing the caulk around your tub and sinks is an inexpensive fix that will really improve the appearance of these important rooms.
- Refinish wood surfaces. Natural wood is warm, inviting and attractive to buyers — especially if it is well cared for. Consider having your hardwood floors refinished. This may not cost as much as you think; if the scratches don’t penetrate down to the wood, you may be able to get away with a simple refreshing of the varnish rather than a complete refinish.
Don’t forget your exterior wood decks and steps. After washing, stain as necessary and re-coat with a sealant to keep them looking their best.
- Mulch your landscape beds. Adding a layer of attractive gravel or bark mulch can make the outside of your home far more attractive without having to shell out for expensive landscaping upgrades.
New fixtures make rooms look fabulous
Details make a difference when it comes to sprucing up a home. Try these fixture upgrades for instant appeal.
- Invest in new light fixtures. Old light fixtures can make a room look dumpy and outdated. A new chandelier for the dining room or trendy sconces in the hallways can transform the space.
Sometimes the problem is not style but light. Adding a few extra lights, or replacing lower-wattage bulbs with brighter CFL or LED light bulbs can make a huge difference in the sell factor of a home. Tubular skylights are a great choice, too.
- Upgrade kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Are your plumbing fixtures stained with rust, pitted, or just plain clunky-looking? Switch them up for something sleek in shiny chrome or sophisticated brushed brass or stainless. It will make the entire room seem more upscale.
Turn those odd spaces to your advantage
Do you have space in your home that doesn’t make sense? Buyers don’t like paying for space they won’t use, so if you can make it useful you’ll increase your home’s appeal. Storage is a problem for many families, so turning odd niches into useful storage space will gain you points. Try adding cabinets, built-in shelving or storage closets.
Your entryways also deserve your attention. They are where people get their first impression of your home. Spruce yours up by upgrading your door, painting, or adding an attractive welcome rug, and put your prospective buyers in a good state of mind for viewing the rest of your home.
One last tip: Green is red-hot these days, so go for any green improvements that are within your budget. Zero VOC paint is a good choice, as are weatherization and insulation. Or add a rain barrel or raised garden beds to your yard. Just don’t forget to include your green upgrades in your home description!