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10 Budget friendly ways to improve your home's value

By Trulia | Published: Oct 14, 2009 | 34 Comments

Selling your home in today's market can seem like a challenge, especially if your home could use some tender loving care. But what if you just don't have it in your budget to invest thousands of dollars into a remodel? For many cash strapped homeowners this is the dilemma that keeps them awake at night.

Rest easy, there are many small projects that you can do around the house that will increase your home's value without breaking the bank. Let's take a look at 10 budget-friendly ways to increase your home's value:

  1. Landscaping

    By spending just a few hundred dollars on grass seed or replacement sod, new flowers, bushes, or trees, any homeowner with a shovel and some elbow grease can dramatically improve their home's curb appeal over a long weekend. For inspiration check out Landscaping.com.

  2. Wash instead of paint

    If you can't afford to paint the home, how about giving it a good wash? With a ladder and an extension brush any homeowner can give their home's exterior a thorough scrub down. Don't forget to wash the screens, windows, and gutters while you're at it. And when you're done outside, move inside.

  3. Paint the trim and front door

    Another way to revitalize your home's exterior is to paint just the trim and front door - two items buyers' eyes are naturally drawn to when driving by your home. Just be sure that the paint is a good match to the base color and to you avoid embarrassing drips.

  4. Clean the floors

    If you can't afford new flooring, consider steam cleaning carpets, washing or waxing laminate, hardwood or linoleum floors, and cleaning the grout on tile floors. Have a hole or permanent stain in the carpet? Consider replacing the flooring in just that room by talking to your local flooring vendor and ask about large remnants (left over materials from larger jobs that may fit smaller rooms).

  5. Re-caulk plumbing fixtures

    Over time caulk, the silicon that protects surfaces from water seepage around plumbing fixtures, can discolor, tear, or degrade. Stripping this material out and replacing it with a fresh bead of silicon is an inexpensive way to improve both bathrooms and kitchens. Caulk now comes in different grades and colors, so be sure to shop for a product that is appropriate for the job and matches your décor.

  6. Pressure wash sidewalks and driveways

    Over the years dirt, dust, and grime work their way into the driveways and sidewalks of every home. The good news is that a few hours with a pressure washer can turn back the clock on these surfaces. A word of warning: while it might be tempting to use the same device to wash your home, don't. The high pressure stream can easily peel the paint off your home ( which is not a good selling point).

  7. De-clutter the home

    A home packed full of furniture, clothing, collections, exercise equipment, and memorabilia can cause a home to look much smaller than its actual size. Have a garage sale, rent a storage unit, or start making trips to the landfill and be sure to whittle down your home's contents to a manageable size.

  8. Fix the small things

    Every homeowner keeps a list of the small projects that they never seem to have time to complete. Now is the time to jump on those projects. Need a gentle reminder? Replacing light bulbs throughout the home, fixing holes in doors or walls, greasing squeaky cabinets or doors, cleaning the gutters, fixing leaking plumbing fixtures, and changing the air filters would be a good start.

  9. Update lighting fixtures

    You can spend a fortune on lighting fixtures but you don't have to. Consider selectively changing lighting fixtures that date the home. Exterior garage lights, bathroom lights, or bedroom lights are all great choices.

  10. Deep clean the home

    A deep cleaning isn't just straightening up or rearranging the dust bunnies. It's a no holds barred war on dirt. Starting from the highest point in the home clean every single surface. Yes, you will have to move furniture, clean out closets, and lift up the couch, but the results will be well worth the effort.

Improving your home's value doesn't always have to mean taking out a second mortgage. Sometimes small projects can improve the value of your home in big ways. So roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and have fun!

Comments

By Nick Alameddin,  Thu Dec 24 2009, 16:13
If you have pets that may cause odder, clean the litter box more often and put in a lite scent air freshner.
By Short Sale Specialist Realtor,  Wed Jan 13 2010, 17:22
Very good advice on here! Many folks are there are doing what they can to try to create value in order to be able to get their home sold. And if all else fails, a good rule of thumb is "price cures EVERYTHING!"

Mike Linkenauger
Short Sale Specialist Network
http://www.short-sale-specialists.com
By Debra Rosser,  Sun Jan 31 2010, 18:57
Make your house truly clean....sparkling deep down clean, and remember that less is truly more. I end up encouraging most people to remove almost half of everything from furniture and clothes to cleaning supplies and knick knacks. These are two of the easiest tricks for staging your home.
Debra Rosser
Staging Matters
thestagingmatters.com
By Angelica Blatt,  Thu Feb 11 2010, 13:57
If you can, I also recommend staging the home as well as all of the above.
By Nancy S. Hill,  Fri Feb 12 2010, 13:25
Buyers are looking for solid bones and enough space! Take out all the extra towels from the linen closet and just have one set of towels nicely folded. Remove all the extra clothes from the closets and hang all the necessary items neatly. A buyer wants to know that the house will not be too small as soon as they bring all their "stuff" in.
By Johnny Yankoviak,  Sat Mar 20 2010, 15:43
One great, affordable way to add value when selling your home, is to add new bedding.

It doesn't cost much, and for a few hundred dollars, you will get a great wow factor.

Also, you can take the new comforter set's with you when you sell your house.
By Maria T.,  Thu May 13 2010, 09:18
Either, you can stage professionally, which is tax deductible, or DIY after a professional consultation, in any case, keep your home extremely clean through the selling process, it makes all the difference, potential buyers will walk thinking, "they really love this house, I think I like it too". I will also say that for a lot less that above, even occupied homes will shine. That's all it matters!
By Debra Kay,  Sun Aug 1 2010, 09:08
No matter the price, if you are selling a home it needs to be clean, tidy and decluttered. Once that is done look at any maintance issues. Leaky faucets, squeeky floors, and rickety doors make the potential buyer question what is going on inside the walls that they cannot see. If the home is well cared for, it shows.
By Roberta Wasser,  Sun Aug 29 2010, 02:27
I totally agree with Debra, Cleanliness is an important part of selling your home as well as maintance issues that come up over the years such as Roof leaks, Pipes broken, Kitchen and Bath updates matter the most but depending on the area your in WATCH YOUR BUDGET, enother words don't put in too much money if you are living in a CONDO COMPLEX or in an area where the homes are not selling or you expand and the rest of the neighborhood is smaller homes than you!!!
By Vincent Villafranca, GRI, ABR,  Sun Oct 10 2010, 19:28
A clean floor does wonders, vacuuming and steam cleaning rugs is what always recommend at a minimum.
By My Pro Handyman Can,  Sun Oct 24 2010, 11:52
Improve the energy efficiency of you home. Enjoy the comfort and saving while you are still living there and have a great sales feature to include in your marketing. Here's what the EPA suggests:
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfmfuseaction=HOME_ENERGY_YARDSTICK.showGetStarted. You can do it yourself or call fro professional help. From My Pro Handyman Can - see my blog here on Trulia for ideas.
By Laura,  Fri Nov 26 2010, 08:01
What can you do about factors you CAN'T clean? I live next to a bar and I want to move away because i"m tired of the noise. What can I possibly do to convince someone else to take on this hassle?
By Carmen Cattles,  Wed Dec 1 2010, 02:27
Laura, I would suggest you call your local police department. There is a section call " liveability " They can help you with that problem. There are noise ordinances in many cities. to help you .
By Aaron Schreiner,  Wed Mar 23 2011, 12:51
It's amazing what a pressure wash to the home exterior and walkways can do! Also, using a steam cleaner on the windows is great.
By Tiffany Razo, Realtor,  Fri Jul 15 2011, 10:33
Great Tips!
By Shawn Rosa,  Tue Dec 13 2011, 10:25
#2 is a good tip - power washing siding can make it look brand new
By Kathy Hines 972-632-6530,  Wed Jan 4 2012, 22:42
As a potential seller, first start to see the home as a house, to be able to separate the emotional attachment. Next, clean,de-clutter and then call a Realtor to come and give advice. Look for the ones who understands staging.
By Lolita Hayes,  Fri Mar 16 2012, 17:23
Most of these ideas are very good and practical to those on a tight budget. I like the comment that says "Price fixes everything"! If you really can't sink lots of money into putting in new floors or even sanding old ones, for instance, or replacing plumbing, just lower the price! You'd never recoup what you put in anyway.

When doing that super-cleaning, don't forget the basement! Vacuum up cobwebs and scrub away mold stains or other unsightly marks such as spilled oil or chemicals. Put a dehumidifier with an air cleaner in the basement too! Get rid of mold & mildew odor.

Another common problem for those who have no place to put clutter, such as those who have home offices and necessary documents and file boxes. One recommendation I liked was to box these in new boxes labeled "moving" or something to indicate that you're not a hoarder, then put them in one room. Most people have this dilemma to some degree.

The advice about new caulking in baths and kitchens is a good one! It really makes a difference. Do this with grout between tiles if you can't replace the floor.

One place to store the half of your clothes they say to remove, if you can't afford a storage space, is in trunks that could be used as end or coffee tables, and in decorative bins under benches or in plastic bins under beds.

Regarding landscaping: if you have an old garden like mine with extra plants and can't afford new ones, just dig them up, pot them and place them where you would otherwise plant new ones. Then when you move, you can take them to your new home! This is an especially good idea for those with rare plants such as heirloom roses.
By Karen Guzik, SRES, CNE,  Fri Apr 6 2012, 09:44
Studies have shown that a house has the most interest during the first 4 weeks of it being on the market. Price it right and show it in prime conditions and the sale is eminent!
By Stephanie Leon 786-664-7710,  Sat Apr 28 2012, 10:30
#8 is a good tip. Fixing the small things will make a difference.. Too many small fixes needed will turn off a buyer.
By Lisa and Goran Forss (Broker),  Mon May 7 2012, 12:35
Definitively have it staged. Based on our track history, it's worth it. We do it with every flip home now. We also, which I mentioned on another blog, clean the windows and store away the window screens. Makes the home look much brighter.
By Matie,  Tue Jun 26 2012, 05:04
common problem for those who have no place to put clutter, such as those who have home offices and necessary documents and file boxes. One recommendation I liked was to box these in new boxes labeled "moving" or something to indicate that you're not a hoarder, then put them in one room. Most people have this dilemma to some degree.

http://www.indexpost.com/
By Sona Gallatin,  Sat Aug 18 2012, 13:06
Great tips! I would add that when taking pictures for your listing, please close the lid of the toilet and include pictures of the kitchen.
By opondomusa,  Sat Oct 27 2012, 02:53
true.Just because the average home renovation project costs a few thousand dollars doesn't mean that you have to spend that much to make your home look better. In fact, you can give your home a makeover for a fraction of that -- and make it look just as great -- here are some more ideas:

http://www.realtypin.com/news/Story/668-7-Cheap-Home-Renovation-Ideas-That-Look-Great
By She_toby,  Fri Nov 16 2012, 12:21
We have decluttered the home. Only problem is the owner is a 95 yr old man. Who hasn't made updates in home since mid 70s or early 80s. He feels as though the buyer should make the updates that they want.
By Manuel Ramirez,  Mon Jan 7 2013, 04:15
We have helped several owners in selling an inherited house by taking the stress out of it and helped them get on with their lives as quickly as possible. .know more at http://www.experthousebuyer.com
By Gary Pounder,  Thu Feb 28 2013, 15:11
For any that find doing the needed tasks challenging, consider calling a local scout troop and requesting their help in exchange for a donation. Another good resource are church leaders who often are looking for projects to teach their youth the value of service.
By Ed Bailey - GRI, MS, CC,  Wed May 8 2013, 05:46
Clean, repair, or replace things that the buyer will see up close, i.e. front door and frame, cabinets and cabinet hardware, door knobs, and water faucets. Stand tin the door and look in. What looks inviting and what doesn't?

One of my sellers would soak the corner of a wash cloth in vinella, then grab the opposite corner and walk through the house swing in in the air.
By SoCal Preferred Builders,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:43
You cant imagine how the small things effect home value during a sale. Potential customers focus on issues around the house and reasons why they should reduce the price of the house. Imagine a ding on your wall which could be repaired easily, and most home improvement experts would not even consider it a problem, but someone that doesnt know will make it a bigger deal and try to lowball. Home value rises on "uneducated" bets on value for a home.

Something to consider when selling a home.
By Voices Member,  Tue May 28 2013, 08:07
I really agree with the Socal builders, the little things can add up. Just having the windows in my Ottawa home replaced raised the value of the home a good deal and also helped me get it out of my hands. http://www.nuden.com/super-magic-windows-doors.php
By Carmen Brodeur- Top 1% Realtor,  Tue Oct 15 2013, 22:17
I like 1, 5, 7 and 10 - all of these are great tips though.

http://www.DesertMountainHomesOnline.com
By Jordan Wasylyk,  Sun Feb 23 2014, 12:57
Hello! Is curb appral a good thing.why i'm asking is that I live in Prescott Valley,AZ ,Where most you're weed wacking weeds or trying to kill weeds.We're thinking about sell our home.It cost a lot to lay down landscape rocks in my front yard.,we have landscape our back yard.Trying to save up the money to do our front yard before we put our house on the market.when we bought our home 10 yr ago we didn't look at the yard,we were looking if in the inside got us to want this house and it did. But most homes I have seen on MLS they are landscape nice with landscaping rock.What do u think we should do? need all advise can get,lol.i talk my husband in doing this.let me know.Has for inside I watch a lot od HGTV,lol
By Jennifer Lawler,  Sun Mar 2 2014, 04:14
All common sense, good advice. Very important to keep in mind too are the pictures that are posted when a home is for sale. I can't believe how bad some of them are. THIS is often the first impression. Potential buyers won't even make the drive if the pictures are unappealing.
By Nancy Chapmon,  Tue Mar 11 2014, 11:54
I couldn't agree more! The best advice any seller can have in my opinion is to start packing - after all, you're going to move! Pack away not only clutter, but unnecessary accent furniture, doo-dads, etc - mark the boxes and store them (in the garage neatly if you must, but off-site best). I always say "we don't live in a home the way we sell a home"...that way they hopefully don't feel like I'm personally attacking their decorating style. We just need the house to show!

Nancy Peralta, Realtor
Suzanne Cook & Co
Longview, TX

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