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Ray Akers' Blog

By Ray Akers | Agent in Seattle, WA

Quick fixes to boost your home's value & improve curb appeal.

Dear Ray, 

I’m seeing more ‘sold’ signs in my neighborhood.  My house isn’t selling.  Agents bring buyers to see my house but nobody has made an offer.  Can you suggest some cheap improvements to make my home more appealing? 



Dear J.O.,

Sales are increasing and inventory of new listings is lagging, increasing the odds you'll receive an offer.  If your home isn’t selling you need to focus on your asking price and the condition of your home.  Ask your Realtor for an updated list of recent sales in your market area.  You may be priced higher than the competition.  Buyers are extremely price-sensitive nowadays, so there is no room for speculative pricing. 

Condition is also important.  Here’s a list of suggestions that may help make your home more appealing and shorten the time on market.

1. Fix major problems.  Buyers are unwilling to accept a home with major repair issues. You can’t sell a home with standing water in the basement or a broken dishwasher.  Buyers will imagine there are additional, undiscovered surprises waiting for them.  

2.  Boost curb appeal.   You can get dramatic results with minimum expense by focusing on the front of your house. Buyers will retain a positive or negative impression of your home based upon how it looks from the street.  Paint your house or paint just the trim.  If you do only one thing; paint the front door a bright, contemporary color.  Buy a new ‘Welcome’ mat for the front porch, install a new porch light, and install new brass address numbers.  Remember, first impressions are lasting.

3.  Mow, trim, & prune.  Don’t overlook the basics; mow & edge the lawn and trim overgrown shrubs away from windows.  Heavy, mature landscaping hides the house and makes the rooms darker.  Add fresh bark in planting areas and plant some colorful flowers in pots on either side of the front door. 

4. Paint the interior.  Putting a fresh coat of paint on the interior walls is the most cost-effective improvement you can make.  Avoid bold colors.  Choose a warm white or neutral shade.  Don’t forget to paint the trim. The trim should be a lighter shade than the walls.

5. Floors are important.   Soiled or worn carpet, or damaged vinyl flooring is a big turn-off.  You don’t need to install hardwood floors, but at least have the carpets cleaned.  Damaged or worn flooring in the kitchen or bath should be replaced.  Choose light, bright flooring.

6.  New light fixtures.  Replacing dated fixtures is a low-cost fix.  Focus on the front porch light, the entry ceiling fixture, and the dining room light.  Installing a new light fixture in the foyer will leave a good first-impression with buyers. 

 7.  De-clutter.  Since you’re planning to sell and move, start packing before your home goes on the market.  Remove most pictures from the walls.  Ask your Realtor for help in deciding which furnishings should stay.  Most homes have too much ‘stuff’ which makes the rooms appear cramped and small. Pack-up your books and personal items and store them, neatly, in a corner of the basement or garage. 

 8.  Bathrooms; good ROI.  The data shows you’ll get 100% to 125% Return On Investment when you fix-up the bathroom.  The most important priority is to make sure the bathroom is clean.  Get rid of mold & mildew, and replace old caulking.  A new vanity & sink and decorator mirror will give the impression that the bathroom is remodeled.

 9.  Accessories, pillows, bedding,  & linens.  You don’t have to spend big dollars to stage your home.  After you’ve de-cluttered, buy some new throw pillows for the sofa.  A new comforter, pillows, and an area rug will update the bedroom.  Add new guest towels and fragrant soaps in the bathroom.  A vase of fresh flowers on the dining room table is always a nice touch.

 10. New appliances.   If your budget allows, replace the kitchen appliances.  Start with the stove and refrigerator.  Stainless steel remains popular for kitchens, any other color is a distant 2nd for consumer preferences.  Next, replace the dishwasher and microwave.  Try to keep the appliances matching.  You don’t need to remodel the entire kitchen, new appliances will set your kitchen apart from the competition. 

These fixes will help improve a buyer’s impression of your home and maximize the sale price you receive.

 Good luck! 


Ray Akers is a life-long resident of Seattle and a licensed Realtor for over 25 years.   You may contact Ray at (206)723-2800 or send an email to  ray@akerscargill.com  

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