What are some quick, cheap, easy ways to increase the value of my home?

Asked by Jason Parran, 49008 Fri Jun 22, 2007

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Vicki Masell…, Agent, Duluth, GA
Fri Jun 22, 2007
Hi Jason,

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.

Best wishes,

Ted Shoop - ABR, e-PRO, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners
Web Reference:  http://MyGeorgiaHomes.com
3 votes
Kaye Thomas, Agent, Manhattan Beach, CA
Sat Jun 23, 2007
The best and least expensive thing I advise my clients to do is flowers.. you can plant some and put others in pots in front and back..
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..
2 votes
Trulia Roger, Home Buyer, Alameda, CA
Fri Jun 22, 2007
Make sure it's clean when you show it to people. Scrub behind the ears, as it were: under your outdoor stairs, crawlspaces, shrubs, yard in general, attic, basement, etc.

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!
1 vote
Steve Ostrom, Agent, Roseville, CA
Mon Sep 3, 2007
I take pictures for our clients to show them what people see to get the ball rolling. I start moving stuff around to enhance rooms and take new pictures to get them motivated. A majority of the time people are shocked what minimizing and color accent pieces can do that might have been in a corner hidden in a room. Your eyes start to glaze over what you see on a daily basis so this helps.

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.
0 votes
Prepare For…, , Calif Central Valley
Mon Sep 3, 2007
Well, Jason, you've got some great advice so far.

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!
0 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Thu Aug 16, 2007
While some of my input will be redundant, I wanted to reinforce the messages, and also provide you the info in list of priority.

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 don’t need. Donate extra furniture items. The more “stuff” that is there, the more it detracts the buyers attention on the “stuff” 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 won’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.
0 votes
Mike G, , Belle Prairie City, IL
Thu Aug 16, 2007
Paint! Cleaning, get rid of the clutter, and a fresh paint job is by far the cheapest way to make a dramatic improvement in the sale price and time on the market for most homes. Use neutral colors even if you prefer something a little more dramatic because more buyers will approve. Adding some flowers in strategic locations in front of the house, near walkways, etc. can improve curb appeal.
0 votes
Jason Lopez, Agent, San Diego, CA
Wed Aug 15, 2007
Minor things like spring cleaning and touch up painting can go a long way. Adding curb appeal by planting flowers to add some color, keeping the lawn manicured and green are great as well. When it comes to the garage, one thing I always recommend is to stack boxes to about the size of a car. That way people can tell if they will be able to park in the garage and it leaves the walls and "dark corners" open for closer inspection. A minor updgrade to the kitchen and baths are also great. New tile, faucets, towel bars, etc can be added at reasonable prices.
0 votes
Jeffery Grif…, Agent, Wailuku, HI
Wed Aug 15, 2007
Fix the bathrooms. Always a winner.
0 votes
Marie Tils,…, , Tri Cities, WA
Wed Aug 15, 2007
One thing I have found works well here is to stage the home to sell. Remove personal pictures from the walls. Remove as much furniture out as possible to make the rooms look bigger. If the home is vacant perhaps rent some furniture. The biggest thing is to make the home look universal so that potential buyers can see themselves living in the space.
0 votes
James Baker, , 92008
Wed Aug 15, 2007
One of the most important things you should do that costs almost nothing is CLEAN THOROUGHLY, INSIDE AND OUT. Box up things, expecially personal photos and mementos and be ready to move. Less is better making the home seem more spacious. Then start painting.
0 votes
Missy Caulk, Agent, Saline, MI
Wed Aug 15, 2007
Paint !! It is the standard for making a house look fresh, and the cheapest.
0 votes
Lara McHenry, Agent, Spokane, WA
Fri Aug 10, 2007
The responses already posted are great ideas, another suggestion I would offer is to remember the aspects of the home that you fell in love with and which were the defining reasons you purchased it when you did. Make sure those areas are still focal points. Ie; did you love the fireplace, arrange your furniture to compliment those characteristics. Create settings that envelope the buyer. Create atmosphere that evokes comfort by creating a seating arrangement around perhaps the fireplace, place items in threes....three magazines, three candle sticks, etc. to create balance and eye catching displays. If your home sparkles and shows like its top notch this always increases your bottom line. Kitchen remodels add the most value, second to that is bathrooms or added square footage, decks are major returns on the investment as well. Paint always goes a long way...fixture updating such as lights are inexpensive and something you can replace yourself. Good luck and watch a few episodes on HGTV of designed to sell, curb appeal...etc.
0 votes
Fred Poehlman, , Oakland County, MI
Tue Jun 26, 2007
There are many small things that help. First make sure the yard and flower beds are in good shape. Mow the yard, weed the flower beds. No flower beds? Add some large potted plants in front.
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.
Web Reference:  http://fredpoehlman.com
0 votes
Maureen Fran…, Agent, Birmingham, MI
Tue Jun 26, 2007
I used to live in Kalamazoo, after I graduated from K College. There are many things you can do to increase your home's appeal. Decluttering, painting and landscaping are all good things to do.
Web Reference:  http://mibirmingham.com
0 votes
Jeff and Che…, , 91436
Fri Jun 22, 2007
Hi Jason,
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
Properties Plus
0 votes
Megan, , San Francisco, CA
Fri Jun 22, 2007
I think i read somewhere that improvements to the Kitchen and Bathrooms add lots of value
0 votes
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