Written by Michelle Lerner for Realtor.com, October 8, 2013
Most home sellers are eager to garner the highest possible price when they put their home on the market. To maximize profits, your home must be in the best possible condition so that buyers compare it favorably to a model home.
At the same time, you should minimize the amount of cash you spend. A free and essential first step is to pack personal items and eliminate clutter.
1. Freshen Up Paint, Front Door and Hardware
One of the simplest and least expensive ways to give an instant lift to any room is to apply a coat of paint. Even if you choose not to paint your whole house, touch up the trim near your front door and windows, since buyers will notice those spaces first.
You may even want to replace your front door or at least paint it, since buyers stand outside waiting in that spot while their Realtor fetches the keys from the lockbox. First impressions have a lasting psychological impact.
While you’re at it, look at your front doorknob. Shiny new knobs outside and inside can make your whole house seem newer, especially if you opt to switch your brass knobs for brushed nickel or a more contemporary shape. Replacing your switch plates and outlet covers so that they’re all fresh, clean and matching can also have a surprisingly big impact.
2. Let There Be Light
Buyers want homes to be light and bright, so spend a little money to add lamps if you can do so without cluttering your spaces. If more table and pole lamps aren’t an option, buy brighter lightbulbs up to the maximum recommended voltage.
If you have a stale-looking brass light fixture over your dining table, spend a couple hundred dollars or less at a hardware store or Target for a more modern fixture. If you have old ceiling fans that look rusty or outdated, replace those, too.
Clean your windows to make sure the maximum light shines through, and remove drapes and blinds if you can or replace them with lighter window treatments.
When your home is being shown, make sure all the lights are on and all the blinds are up.
3. Focus on the Bathrooms and Kitchen
Home buyers pay a lot of attention to whether the kitchen and bathrooms have been updated. If you can’t afford to replace your bathroom’s tile floor but it looks old, you can dig out the old grout and replace it to make your floor look nearly new. Caulk your shower and tub, too, since dirty or old-looking caulk reminds buyers that the bathroom has been used.
If your bathtub is scratched or chipped, you can have it reglazed for less than $500.
If you’re handy, you can replace your bathroom and kitchen faucets yourself, but you may need to hire a plumber for this quick fix. A new faucet can give an updated look to your kitchen without requiring you to spend much money.
4. Dig In for Curb Appeal
No matter what season it is when you’re selling, take the time to pull weeds, mulch and add colorful plants or flowers (or bushes with berries in winter) to impress potential buyers from the moment they see your property. While you’re outside, patch your concrete sidewalk and steps and power-wash your deck or patio.
While you’ll definitely need to spend time on these simple fixes, they all cost less than $500. You’ll get back your time with a quick sale and recover your money with a higher sales price. Get more tips and tricks to sell your home by subscribing to Jason's blog. Get more by Michelle Lerner here.