Great question and a topic that I often discuss with potential sellers during a listing presentation.
Unlike many of my peers in the real estate industry who may insist that you spend thousands of dollars fixing or replacing every single cosmetic defect, I take the reasonable man (or woman) approach. I am a big fan on minimizing expenditures when I or one of my clients are about to sell a home.
But there are certain areas to focus on and some items that cannot be overlooked. "Light", "bright" and "clean & clutter-free" are your 3 best friends when looking to increase the appeal of your home.
Light - Paint colors particularly on the interior should be neutral, light shades (versus dark or bold). Paint and elbow grease are reasonably inexpensive.
Bright - Let the sun in. Open drapes and blinds. Replace burned out or non-working bulbs/light fixtures. Better yet, check the clearance rack/table at your local home improvement store for new light fixtures with updated color/finishes. Clean the windows and screens.
Clean & Clutter-Free - Remove excess furnishings and personal belongings (begin packing if you're selling & moving). Rent a storage unit for 3 months if you have no other place to store these items. Remove numerous pictures, posters and wall-hangings as well as your collection of refrigerator magnets. Hire a maid service to come in and do a thorough cleaning top to bottom. Shampoo the carpets and polish the hardwood and vinyl floors.
If you are planning to stay a while (say, at least 3-5 years), consider upgrading other items such as flooring. Also, kitchen and bath remodels almost always yield the highest return on investment across the country. Check out the local discount warehouses for great buys on materials, especially if you are a D.I.Y. kind of guy...
I have a great hand-out that I give prospective home sellers to assist them in getting the home in the best possible show condition with minimal $$$. I'd be glad to mail or email you a copy, if you are interested. Simply call or email me with your contact information and we'll promptly send it to you.
Ted Shoop - ABR, e-PRO, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners
People often make half of their decision on a home before they get out of the car. So you want to perk up the exterior as much as possible.. next time you are out think about which homes catch your eye and I'm betting it's the ones with beautiful flowers and nice landscaping. Of course the interior must also be clean, clutter free and no pet or smoke odors. If you have pets or smoke and aren't sure ask a friend who doesn't to take a sniff..
Patch up any cracks in stucco or siding.
Clean out and repair your gutters.
Apply a fresh coat of paint everywhere. This is something most people can do themselves (at least on the inside of the property) and costs very little, especially if you buy high-quality (expensive) primer and paint: one coat of each will probably suffice, saving you time and money.
Refinish your cabinets. You don't necessarily need a full set of new cabinets if your existing cabinets are decent quality: tighten the hinges and reface the doors, and you could very well have a great-looking, functional set of cabinets for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets.
Replace worn carpet. You can get good deals on remnants at large carpet stores, and a remnant could very well be all you need to recarpet one or two rooms. You can easily carpet a room for well under $1000 including installation.
Replace all the weather striping on your doors and windows. It'll look better and be a selling point as an energy-saving trick. No more drafts!
Replace your bathroom and kitchen faucets. It's easy enough to do and you can get good-looking, quality faucets for $50 at Home depot. Same goes for bathroom fixtures like towel racks, etc.
Plant pretty plants around your house and/or yard.
There are LOTS of things you can do for $100 or less!
Walk through your house and make sure traffic flow is smooth as possible without have to have ridiculous routes around pieces of furniture. Also Jason, the power of continuity/flow as far as color schemes and pieces from room to room do make a difference.
More root level and literal, but still important hide your paperwork, bills and most importantly WIRES (to your TV, stereo system etc). I have disgruntled a few men, but the pictures are so much nicer! Anywhere your hand touches the eye is drawn (door handles, molding, faucets) keep scrubbed, replace or repaint.
Comforters, shower curtains, towels in good condition are big items for me too. Doesn't have to be fancy, but things that add to the big picture.
Ted made an interesting observation - you don't mention if you're looking at improving your investment for the long run, or are preparing to put your house on the market. I think the answers would vary depending on your goal.
There are many cheap (if not always easy) things to improve your home for sale and many of those have already been explained. So I'll just add that if you're not planning on selling right away then the greatest thing you can do to protect your investment is to keep it clean and in good repair, inside and out.
And if you're looking to sell, you should have your home Staged as Maria suggested. If you have any questions on what that involves, I'd be happy to answer them.
Best of Luck!
1) Front Door and Curb Appeal.........Clean up the lawn, put out flower pots, sweep the front porch, add a bit of mulch around a few focal points. Buyers often do drive buys before setting appointments. They also look online. You will lose showings if you skip this first step. While this alone will not sell your property, it will influence the number of showings and appointments. When the outside is manicured and inviting, buyers want to come in.
1a) Add some flowers to the inside also....potted flowers, vases of fresh cut flowers.
2) De-clutter and clean. Throw out what you really donâ€™t need. Donate extra furniture items. The more â€œstuffâ€ that is there, the more it detracts the buyers attention on the â€œstuffâ€ and away from the attributes of the property. Try to think of walking into a nice resort hotel room. It is inviting, but not personalized to a particular person or family.
3) Clean the kitchen and bathrooms again. People notice the details here. When these are clean, they feel more comfortable.
4) Take down anything that is dark or obstructs light. If you have massive balloon type valances on your windows, take them off. Add light by taking away obstructions.
5) Paint. Paint is inexpensive. It makes a room feel bright and clean. Touch up or paint an entire room. Neutral colors are best.
6) Include a home warranty. Generally, you wonâ€™t pay for this until closing. It will protect you through the listing period, add buyer confidence and assist you in inspection negotiations that identify a short life on any appliances.
7) Pull up old carpet in favor of hardwood floors if hardwoods are favored in your market.
I am not an advocate of spending a lot......just cleaning, painting and brightening.
Make sure any toys or yard tools are picked up and put away. Curb appeal is critical. Drive up to your house and look at it like you are going to buy it yourself, what would you like to see.
Inside is the same, make sure it is clean and "picked up". Remove personal items like pictures from the walls. Keep kitchen counters free of small appliances. Yes, this is a pain, but try to think of it as you don't live there anymore, it belongs to the buyer.
Those are the "Free" things.
Call a local realtor and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis, if you haven't listed your house yet. This should be free! Part of this should include a list of "What you can do" to improve the chances of selling your home. Remember, selling a house is a partnership between you and your realtor. You both have important, but different roles.
You can visit my web site and look for seller tips.
Here is a link that might help answer your question http://www.qrealestatepro.com/default.aspx?p=article&id=49218. If you need further information or have more questions please do not hesitate to contact us through our web site below. Good luck.
Jeff and Cheryl Fox, Realtors