It’s common knowledge that making your home look its best for potential buyers is important to selling it quickly and for a good price. But expensive renovations could result in costs much higher than the potential payoffs. Here are five of the lowest-cost ways to increase your home’s value and attract buyers.
It’s probably the most obvious (and difficult thing to do) when preparing to sell a house. Getting rid of excess personal effects is one of the best ways to help potential buyers see themselves at home in your house. Two thirds of your belongings should be sold, donated, discarded, or put into storage (or in your new home). Once you can see your house (because every available surface isn’t covered in clutter), it will be easier to see which cleaning tasks need to be accomplished first (and you won’t trip over stuff as you do them).
2. Update Floors
Refinishing existing wood floors has a return on investment of 100%, according to the National Association of Realtors. Hardwood floors are in demand, so if your home has them but there is carpeting on top, removing the carpets may be the way to go. It is generally advised to at least have hardwood or laminate flooring in high-traffic areas like the living and dining rooms (or kitchen). It is also important to have the same kind of flooring to maintain a cohesive look instead of a tacky or slapdash one. Laminate is cheaper than real hardwood (it sells for $3-7 per square foot according to Consumer Reports) and can maximize your investment even more.
According to a Consumer Reports study, painting a house’s interior increases its value by anywhere from 1% to 3%, and painting its exterior by anywhere from 2% to 5%. However, an exterior paint job tends to be costly, requires the help of a professional, and is not a good investment if the buyer just decides to paint over it in a color of their choice. (Potential buyers tend to have a stronger opinion about the appearance of their home’s exterior since anyone can see it.) Therefore, it is generally advised to just power wash a home’s exterior and save the paint for the inside. The exception is if the exterior paint is peeling (which will lead to a failed home inspection), in poor condition or taste for the current market, requires a lot of touching up to create a unified look, or your real estate agent thinks the return on investment is much higher than the cost and gives you the go-ahead.
Painting rooms yourself tends to cost $200-300 per room (to calculate what it will cost you, divide your home’s square footage by the number of square feet a gallon of paint covers to determine how much paint you’ll need, then multiply by the cost of the paint or primer you’ll be using). Light beige tends to be a great color for the home’s interior. There are different types of paint finishes, each with different costs and characteristics. Satin and eggshell paint finishes tend to be overall the cheapest and most durable. High-gloss finish is durable, easy to clean, and shiny, but will not cover imperfections. It’s great for cabinets, trim, or doors but generally not recommended for walls. Semi-gloss is durable and holds up to moisture exposure well. Matte is hard to clean but will easily cover major imperfections.
Houselogic recommends a high or semi-gloss finish for the kitchen, an eggshell finish for the dining room, a satin finish for the family room, and flat or matte finish for the bedroom. Before painting, make sure to tape the perimeter of ceilings, doors, windows, and carpet or trim (the places where these surfaces come in contact with the walls) to avoid getting paint on them. Create a tight seal by cutting tape to fit each corner perfectly (instead of bending it), and smooth the tape as you go.
4. Update Light Fixtures and Hardware
Having a fresh and cohesive look for drawer and cabinet handles, as well as lighting, is an easy way to make your house look inviting to buyers.
Replacing old or outdated knobs on kitchen and bathroom cabinets is a quick and inexpensive update. (You can easily update the cabinets themselves, too. Just a quick polish could be all you need to enhance natural wood cabinets. If a full repaint is required, take the cabinet doors off their hinges, scrub them, prime them, and paint with a high or semi-gloss finish using an angled brush and mini roller.) So is changing ceiling light fixtures to more modern ones in a high-traffic area like a living room or family room. Floor lamps in main rooms can be a quick way to create a similar effect if you don’t have a ceiling light fixture. Getting one will simply require a wall switch connected to an outlet that you can plug a lamp into.
The return on a well-maintained yard is a 5.5% – 12.7% increase on your home’s value. The yard and house exterior create the first impression buyers will have of your home, so it’s important to make this area as attractive as possible. Remove any dead grass or weeds and replace it with bark, gravel, or decomposed granite.
Add plants such as succulents and short shrubs for a low-cost, low-maintenance, and stylish front yard. Succulents are easy to care for because they require less watering due to their water-retaining flesh. Buyers will appreciate them for their unique appearance and easy maintenance. Aloe Vera, Red Yucca, Serpents Blue Chalk Fingers, and Shining Pink Rock Purslane are some great examples of succulents that will brighten your yard inexpensively. Shrubs such as boxwood, butterfly bush, and elephant are super affordable and will spruce up your yard to make it look great for buyers.
Getting your home ready for buyers doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. These five improvements will help you focus your renovation efforts on the areas that will yield the most return on your investment and attract buyers.
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