Whether you’re planning to downsize now that the kids have moved out or you’re ready to move to your ideal retirement location, a few (relatively) quick projects can help you get top dollar for your home without spending a ton of money or time. These 10 upgrades take less than a week to complete, cost under $500, and could help you sell faster.
1. Declutter Your Closets
Everyone wants lots of closet space. Instead of trying to build more closets, make your existing closets look bigger by emptying half the contents. You can store some of your clothing and shoes (e.g., formal wear, seasonal clothing) in boxes kept out of sight, and you can donate or throw out items that you no longer wear. In addition, you can move the top rail up so that there’s room to add a bottom rail for hanging pants or skirts. This will give the illusion of more space and make the closet more functional.
After you declutter your closets, take a look at your pantry. Discard any items that have passed their “best by” date. If your pantry looks like it’s overflowing, remove the excess items (especially bulky packages of flour or pasta) and temporarily store them in a plastic container elsewhere. Having fewer items neatly arranged on your shelves can make the space seem more ample.
Depending on the size of your closets and pantry, this could take a couple of hours or an entire day. But at least it doesn’t cost anything.
2. Depersonalize the House
Your house likely reflects your personality, especially if you’ve lived there for a long time. But when you’re trying to sell real estate, it’s important for potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves living there and making it their own home. This requires depersonalizing the space—removing anything associated with you or your family. It may help to think of hotel rooms when doing this. You want warm, inviting rooms without reminders of previous occupants. You can depersonalize the space by:
- removing all family photos from walls, shelves, and tabletops
- removing artwork from children or grandchildren
- removing sports trophies, ribbons, and personal memorabilia
- storing bathroom toiletries in vanity drawers or linen closets
- clearing bedside tables of everything except a tissue box, lamp, and clock
Depending on how many personal effects you have around your home, this might take a few days. Be sure to touch up any damage to your walls (e.g., from nails or screws).
3. Update Lights and Fixtures
Household fixtures follow fashion trends. As such, old light fixtures can date a home, especially if they’re dented, faded, or scratched. Updating bathroom wall sconces, dining room pendants, and entryway lighting with inexpensive neutral choices can easily modernize your home, planting the idea that the home is newer and well-cared for. Consider this a good weekend project.
Lighting is also key to creating bright and inviting ambience. Swap existing light bulbs for brighter options and add a few table lamps or floor lamps to cheer up dark corners. Complete this in an afternoon.
4. Update Faucets and Cabinet Hardware
Like lighting fixtures, old faucets and cabinet hardware can date a home, but are inexpensive and simple to replace. Take a good look at your bathroom and kitchen faucets, as well as the cabinet hardware in these rooms. If they’re more than a few years old, it’s time to hit the hardware store for updated versions. You should be able to find faucets for $50 to $100 a set, and installation takes just a few hours.
Depending on the number of cabinets and drawers you have, as well as the types of handles you’re replacing, updating your cabinet hardware should cost no more than $200 and take about a day to complete.
5. Match Appliance Panels
Many realtors will tell you that kitchens sell homes. The kitchen is the heart of the home, where families eat, entertain, and make memories. Potential buyers will try to envision themselves carrying out these activities in the kitchen. Not everyone has the money or time to invest in a full kitchen remodel with new counter tops, cabinets, and appliances, but something as simple as changing out appliance panels so that they match can give your kitchen a custom, modern look.
You might be able to replace your old dishwasher’s white front panel with a stainless steel one to match your stainless steel fridge and stove. Or, if you love your kitchen cabinets, perhaps you can select a fridge panel that matches those cabinets. Depending on your cabinet style, you might pay between $300 and $500 for a fridge panel, but this is a DIY project that you could complete in less than one day.
6. Regrout and Replace Chipped Tiles
Crumbling or dirty grout and chipped tiles in your entrance, bathrooms, or kitchens aren’t just ugly. They could be dangerous too, as loose tiles could cause trips and chipped tiles could cause cuts. These issues also suggest a lack of attention to home repairs and upgrades and savvy buyers won’t ignore them. Although regrouting and replacing chipped tiles takes some work, doing so can make your tile work look new and give that “fresh” look that buyers want—in about a day’s work for fewer than $100.
7. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint
Freshen up your home with a new coat of paint in a color palette that will appeal to today’s buyers. This will help to cover unsightly stains, unpleasant odors, and minor scratches. And starting at around $20 per gallon, paint is an inexpensive way to give a few rooms (or your whole home) a modern look.
Despite your personal preference, choose a warm neutral color in a contemporary shade, like wheat yellow or light gray, to appeal to the widest range of possible buyers. Visit your local paint supply or hardware store for the latest color selections or ask your realtor for advice—they should have an idea of what’s currently popular. Depending on the size of your home and how many volunteer painters you can entice (or commandeer), painting the interior of your home could take as little as a couple of days.
8. Clean Carpets and Wood Floors
Nothing turns buyers off like stained, stinky carpeting, yet this is a relatively inexpensive fix when you’re trying to sell your home fast. Having carpets cleaned professionally costs an average of $174, ranging from $75 to $350. Focus on high traffic areas, such as living rooms, family rooms, or dining rooms, or wherever the carpets are stained.
Wood floors are popular among a wide range of homeowners, so show yours off by making sure they’re clean and shiny. This is another job that takes more effort than money. If you’re ready for a real workout, clean your floors with hardwood floor cleaner. Or you can buy a wood floor buffer machine for about $100 to clean and shine the floor—this option may be easier on your back. If your floor is scratched or stained, try a little spot repair using a blending pencil or wood stain marker, commonly available at hardware stores.
9. Insulate the Attic
Buyers want to know whether a home is well-insulated—and may even ask for utility bills to check on heating costs. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report, insulating the attic can pay, typically allowing homeowners to recoup 116% of the cost upon sale. With an average cost of $0.64 to $1.19 per square foot, fiberglass batting is inexpensive and easy to install yourself. Make sure you complete this before you put your home on the market so that the new insulation has time to make an impact on your utility bill.
10. Add Some Greenery
You can add extra curb appeal to your home to attract buyers by planting flowers, shrubs, or trees, depending on the season. For $100 to $200, you could plant a small tree in your front garden. To keep costs and maintenance down, choose vegetation that is native to your area and that requires minimal watering and pruning.
Selling your home doesn’t require a big budget or months of work in advance of putting it on the market. Choose one or more of these projects to tackle in a week or less, gather your supplies, and get started. Hopefully, your hard work will be rewarded with the “sold” sign in no time.