Let’s face it: For homeowners in most cities, the real estate boom is far, far behind us. Most folks need to squeeze every last penny out of their investment when it comes time to sell. While remodeling the kitchen or gutting the bathroom may indeed increase your home’s value, these renovations are expensive and may not yield the best return for the money. And in fact, some so-called improvements, such as swimming pools or hot tubs, can actually detract from your home’s value! However, there are some easy and inexpensive ways to help improve your home’s resale value—as well as decrease the time it takes to attract a buyer.
Your home simply cannot be too clean to sell. Invest in a deep cleaning, either by using your own elbow grease or hiring a professional cleaning service. In addition to the regular cleaning chores of dusting, vacuuming, and mopping, be sure to tackle rarely cleaned areas including vents, baseboards, cabinets, blinds, and doorknobs. Steam-clean the carpets, wash the walls and windows, and replace any broken windows or screens.
Improve Your Kitchen
You may love your red walls but chances are that a prospective buyer will not. Add a fresh coat of interior paint in a neutral color, such as white, sand, or putty. A semi-gloss paint will make the walls seem brighter; an eggshell finish can be used to hide minor imperfections, such as drywall dents or small plaster cracks.
Lighten and Brighten
Junky light switch and outlet covers can age a home, so install new ones to upgrade your space. Consider dimmer switches but first make sure that your existing electrical wiring can handle it. Be sure to turn off the main electrical power to the room before doing any work on an outlet or switch.
Related: How to Install a Dimmer Switch
Power washing can transform the exterior from bland to beautiful and increase the overall curb appeal of your house. So, use a power washer on your home’s exterior siding, sidewalks, driveways, and decks. If you don’t own one, you can rent a powerful unit from a local hardware store, or hire a power washing firm.
Pruning and Potting
Good landscaping signals to buyers that a home has been well maintained. But new shrubs, sod, and other plants can really add up. Focus on pruning the shrubs and trees you already have and clear away patches of unsightly overgrowth. Grouping potted plants around the entryway is a great way to add attractive color, but costs less than hiring a landscaper to redo your yard.
Replace the Doors
Enhance the exterior appearance of your home by replacing entry doors, screen doors, and garage doors. If you can’t afford to replace the whole door, upgrade the hardware. Even that small change can make your doors look like new. If your doors are in good shape, give them a good power washing or a nice coat of paint to freshen them.
Check for Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature—and they’re often hiding right under your wall-to-wall carpeting. Pull up a small corner of the carpeting in an inconspicuous area to check the condition of the floor. If there is hardwood underneath, you can remove it and restore the original floors—much more cost-effective than replacing the carpeting or installing new floors.
Give Appliances a Facelift
Remove Popcorn Ceilings
Once in fashion, nothing says “mid-twentieth century” or “there’s a lot of cracks up in here” than popcorn ceilings. They are a major turn-off for a lot of buyers. They are easily removed, but it’s a messy process. Just be sure to test a sample first to ensure the material doesn’t contain asbestos, which should be handled by a qualified professional contractor.
Related: How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling
Add a Closet
The price difference between a 3-bedroom and 4-bedroom home is significant. If you have an office or den, add a closet to it so it can be considered a bedroom. You’ll invest $1,500 or less, but you’ll likely gain a lot more than that in your asking price.
Spruce Up the Bathroom
Bathrooms are another place where you can really enhance the value of your home with some minor changes. A new toilet seat, and a fresh shower curtain and rugs can go a long way to making a dated bathroom feel more current.
Photo: Zillow Digs home in Issaquah, WA
Soup Up Your Storage
Storage space is a biggie on buyers’ wish lists. Make the most of whatever closet and storage space you have by buying and installing inexpensive organizing systems. This is especially important if your home is older and your closets are few and small.
Photo: Zillow Digs home in Edmonds, WA