Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or perhaps want to improve it inexpensively for your own enjoyment to consider selling later, here are 10 good strategies for you to consider. The actual cost and return on investment for each project will vary, depending on both your home’s condition, age, and real estate values in your area.
Boost your home’s value
1. Make your kitchen really cook.
The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential home buyers make a beeline for this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated.
For a few hundred dollars, replacing the kitchen faucet set, adding new cabinet door handles, and updating old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones will cause an instant—and possibly dramatic change.
If you have a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. Rather than spring for a whole new cabinet system, which can be expensive, look into refacing, if you’re handy. You can order replacement cabinet doors and door fronts from retailers like Lowe’s Home Improvement or The Home Depot and install them yourself. Or, if that seems too hefty a task, hire a refacing company. Many can remove cabinet doors and drawers, refinish the cabinet boxes, then add brand-new doors and drawers. With a fresh exterior or coat of paint, your cabinets will look like new.
2. Give appliances a facelift.
If your kitchen appliances don’t match, order new doors or face panels for them. Or if you have the time and inclination for a more involved project, you can choose appliance paint and give them all a new paint “facelift.”
3. Buff up the bath.
Bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. Simple items like a new toilet seat or a pedestal sink are fairly simple to self-install, and can make a big difference in the look of the bath.
If the floor is old or discolored, replace with self-stick tiles or sheet vinyl. Usually you won’t need to take up the old floor and can install the new floor right over the old one.
If your tub and shower are looking dingy, re-grout the tile and replace any chipped tiles. A more complete, and expensive, cover-up is a prefabricated tub and shower. These one-piece units may require professional installation but are usually cheaper than paying to re-tile walls and refinish a worn tub.
4. Step up your storage.
Old houses in particular are notorious for their lack of closet space. If you have cramped storage areas, add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries, and entry closets. You can find details and parts for these systems at many home improvement and department stores. Most closets can be updated in a weekend or less. In the end, your closets will be more functional while you’re living in the house—and will make your home look more customized to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.
5. Add a room in a week or less.
If you have a three-bedroom house with a den, the only reason the den isn’t considered a bedroom is lack of a closet. If you add a closet to that room, you’ve now got a four-bedroom house. That adds a lot of value. It’s usually possible to add a custom closet system and drywall it in for just a couple thousand dollars.
6. Mind the mechanics.
Consider spending a few bucks on nitty-gritty stuff. It’s very lucrative to hire an electrician and plumber for few hours to inspect electrical services, wrap or fix loose wires, fix any faulty outlets, and check for and fix any water leaks. Small details show a buyer that the home is well cared for can really influence its price.
7. Look underfoot.
Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A thorough, professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your carpets are in good shape and are neutral colors.
If your carpet is showing serious wear, cover it with inexpensive, strategically placed area rugs. Unless it is severely worn, stained, or damaged, most real estate agents won’t suggest replacing wall-to-wall carpeting right before you sell your house as new homeowners may want to choose their own carpeting after they move in. If this is the case, you may want to adjust your asking price accordingly.
8. Let there be light.
If you have recessed lighting in your dining and living rooms, consider replacing the room’s lights with an eye-catching ceiling fixture. Home improvement stores offer a wide range of inexpensive, appealing fixtures. If you have a ceiling fan and light, you can also buy replacement fan blades and light bulb covers to update the look.
9. Reframe your entry.
If you have an old, weathered doorknob on your entry doors, purchase an updated, substantial handle and lock set. An attractive piece of hardware on the front door signals to potential buyers this is a solid home.
If you’re stuck with a basic steel front door, paint or faux-finish it for more curb appeal. There are many options, including textures, and it’s a simple upgrade. After using a good metal primer, add a base coat of paint of approved for metal paint. For a cherry wood look, for example, use burgundy as the base After drying completely, brush over base coat with a cherry wood stain.
10. Consider curb appeal.
Although it seems obvious, a freshly mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs, and a neatly swept walkway makes a great first impression. What buyers see when they first drive by, or see posted on websites, is tremendously important.
If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few easy-care shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. These changes instantly affect people’s perception of the property and likely to increase its value.