Install a new handle and lock and give your door a coat of fresh paint. If budget allows, add a new light fixture too.


It doesn’t need to cost much to upgrade your home. And that small investment can lead to big returns at the closing table.

If you’re thinking about selling your house, sinking a bunch of bank into home improvements probably isn’t high on the priority list. But inexpensive upgrades are crucial to curb appeal.

Or as Marita Ryan Kenna, an associate real estate agent at Eugenia Anderson in Pearl River, NY, puts it, “Pay now or pay later. Potential buyers come into a house once. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t come back.”

That’s a risk you can’t afford in such a competitive market. The good news is that it doesn’t cost a lot to spiff up your home to sell. Read on for easy ways to upgrade on the cheap.

1. Kick up your kitchen a notch

Changing the knobs on your cabinets is an easy fix. If your appliances don’t match, order new doors or face panels for them to create a uniform look.

2. Buy new “jewelry” for your sink

Swap out the faucet set in your kitchen for a spiffier version. It costs a few hundred dollars and will draw attention away from, say, an outdated dishwasher.

3. Spruce up that bath

Replace old or broken toilet seats with new ones and consider regrouting your shower or floor tiles if they look dingy or outdated. Clean grout says “new bathroom” — or at least one that hasn’t been showered in a thousand times.

4. Ditch those hoarder tendencies

Declutter! If you must, rent storage space for a couple of months and remove any unnecessary items (including furniture) from your home. The more uncluttered your home, the larger it will look.

5. Decor your front door

Install a new handle and lock and give your door a coat of fresh paint. If budget allows, add a new light fixture too.

6. Sell it with flowers

Add plants or flowers along the walkway that potential buyers will use to enter your home.

7. Make it sparkle

Power-wash your front walkway or porch. It’s the first thing buyers will see, so it should look bright and clean.

8. Scrub, scrub, scrub

Wash all of your windows (inside and out) and replace heavy drapes with sheer curtains, which will let in more light.

9. Invest in a few bags of mulch

It’s inexpensive and can instantly tidy up flower beds or line walkways, giving the feel of professional landscaping.

10. Really clean your floors

Really, really clean them (as in more than just doing a once-over with the vacuum). Rent a steam machine to give your carpets a deep scrub. If you have hardwood floors, have them buffed and polished.

11. Switch out your switch plates

If your outlets and switches are mismatched or look grimy, replace them with new ones. Stick with white and opt for a contemporary style.

12. Hang a pendant light in your kitchen

Doing so instantly adds a modern edge to the space and creates a focal point.

13. Increase the wattage in your light fixtures

It’s a subtle change, but new, brighter bulbs make small spaces feel larger.

14. Undo the unsightly

Is your storm door on the decline? Remove it. Carpeting looks worse for the wear? Rip it out. The less “unclean” your home looks, the newer it will feel to a buyer.

15. Reglaze your tub

If your tub is scratched or chipped, have it reglazed. It sounds pricey, but you can have this done for less than 500 bucks.

16. Give your guest room a purpose

If the guest room is currently the catchall for everything you don’t know what to do with, clean it out and repurpose it as an office or make it a real space for guests.

Sellers, what are you doing to upgrade your home before your first open house? Share your tips in the comments below.