10 Cheap Fixes to Help Sell Your Home

A little sweat equity makes a big difference in how quickly and for how much you sell your house.

by Sharon Merritt • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

As of October, 2012, sales of single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops were at historic lows, down 17 percent from the previous year. With the current market in the laps of the buyers, sellers must do everything they can to make an impactful first impression. However, like many others, a seller’s money may be tight.

If you’re selling your home, at the very least, you need to make it look its best to give it the advantage over the neighbor’s home. Even if you can’t afford new floors and countertops, there are many updates you can do without breaking the bank. Realtor, Marian Epps (Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace, Knoxville, Tenn.) adds: “With an increased inventory market, sellers need to view their home as if for the first time. The pavement, landscaping, front door, and entry can cause a buyer to turn in their tracks if they’re not pleasing to the eye.”

Real Estate Broker, CDPE, Chris Lewis (Atlantic Winds Realty, Inc., Port St. Lucie, Fla.suggests that you keep in mind how men and women view a home when buying. “Women want to know how they will fit their furniture into a home," Lewis says. "Men want to know where their toys will live.” Lewis says women will first go to the kitchen in a home, and men will go to the garage. With that in mind, here are 10 ideas for sprucing up your home before you put it on the market. 

1. Spic and Span. People may not consciously notice a clean home, but they will notice a dirty one. Give your home a thorough cleaning. That means hands and knees floor-scrubbing. Don’t just wet wipe the general area. Wash the baseboards. Wipe finger prints off of light switches. Look over your doors. Wash the windows. Get the cobwebs out of corners. Pick up pet-hair tumbleweeds. And by all means, dust! Epps also suggests giving the outdoors a clean-up too. “Don’t ignore the deck and pavement areas either. A little sweat equity will pay off in the end,” she says.

2. Tone it Down. You’ve got a bold personality and it shows! Now tone it down. Most home buyers can’t picture their furniture in a bright orange living room or their tan linens in your purple haze/Moroccan-style master suite. You don’t have to change your lifestyle but going a little more toward mainstream while you’re on the market will help keep buyers from turning and running out your turquoise, bedazzled front door. Lewis adds that darker wall colors will make a space look smaller. So lighten up where you can to give a roomier feel to a space.

3. Matchy Matchy. Take a look at your switch plate covers, vent covers, and doorknobs. In older homes, these things tend to be replaced one at a time as needed. That can make for a menagerie of metals, finishes, and styles. Update them and get enough to match throughout the home. In fact, according to Shaun Gardner, Precision Properties, Raeford, N.C.“Women, more than men, tend to notice these details, and women are generally the decision-makers on which house to buy.”

4. Spit and Polish. Your hardwoods may be looking a little worn and dull. What about those kitchen cabinets? Give your bare wood a good polishing or even refinishing where necessary. Replacing floors and cabinets costs thousands. But you can make them look next to new with just a little bit of elbow grease. And refinishing floors with a professional flooring company still costs less than replacing them.

5. Carpet Cleaning. It’s worth a couple hundred dollars to bring in a carpet cleaning company. What sometimes looks like a lost cause on the floor may get an all new life with a professional cleaning. It also removes stinky pet odors which can be detrimental in the home-selling business.

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