11 Overlooked Upgrades That Will Sell Your Home Faster
The average number of days a home stays on the market can vary, but a few subtle improvements can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
1. Make A Positive First Impression
You may want to put that three bedroom, one bath starter in your rearview mirror, but remember it has the potential to be someone else’s dream home. Anything that diminishes the shine of newness in a potential buyer’s eye is a reason to pass on your house and move to the next listing. These negative perceptions can be somewhat subliminal and not necessarily costly to address.
The trick here is to fix the flaws someone new to your home will likely notice right away. These could be little things you don’t even see anymore: dirty windows, deteriorated window screens, a dented garage door, peeling front porch paint, a cracked driveway or rusted fence. To keep a buyer interested, preserve the dream—and positive impression—until your home’s great bones, wonderful amenities or charming features have the opportunity speak for themselves.
Tip: Take a walk across the street on a sunny day and look at your house as others see it. Take a few pictures, too. It’ll be an eye opener.
2. Make “In Good Working Order” A Priority
Most homes have one or two wonky features like a door bell that doesn’t ring properly or a leaky double-pane window that fogs up in winter. If your water softener is on the fritz, or the refrigerator’s ice maker grinds all night, now is the time to get all your appliances and other household features into working order. Have an electrician look at that non-functional wall outlet, then abolish those faucet drips and make sure all your lighting fixtures light on command.
3. Improve Your Landscape
A home’s landscaping creates a frame for the house itself and produces a favorable impression long before a prospective buyer ever steps inside. You may not have mature shade trees, a brick fence or a flourishing perennial border, but you can increase the appeal of your landscape by eliminating negatives and adding a few key features:
- Remove dead or dying trees, and have large trees professionally pruned if they appear lopsided.
- Paint and protect wood fencing, decks and porches, or install low maintenance exterior components.
- Remove dead shrubs and plants, and add new plantings.
- Repair or upgrade your sod.
If the exterior of your home is showing its age, consider adding a new coat of paint. Although most exterior paint products are rated for durability on specific materials like wood or stucco, strong sunlight, wind, seasonal temperature extremes and persistent moisture from nearby shrubs can shorten the life of exterior paint. This is also a great time to replace discolored or deteriorated siding and roof tiles.
Even if your home has been painted inside somewhat recently, older paint colors can date a home and make it look and feel drab. Beige isn’t just greyish brown. It’s one of hundreds of shades that have subtle undertones. Every year, new paint colors are released that reflect small but important variations on the classics. After a while, consumers recognize the differences, sometimes unconsciously. Beige with some red in it is different from beige with a touch of green. A new coat of interior paint makes old walls look youthful. Home buyers want to make a new start in a new place, and that usually translates to a home that looks as new and immaculate as their budget can bear.
5. Maximize Storage
Great storage helps sell homes. People like more square footage in their homes because they want plenty of room for all their stuff. This includes plenty of space to keep functional items organized and within reach but out of sight. If your home is storage challenged, consider adding more options by expanding the storage in your attic or crawlspace, or add modular storage to help organize your garage and closets.
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6. Upgrade Your Lighting
Most of the light fixtures sold with a new home are of medium quality. Upgrading them now can help give your home a new, upscale look, and distinguish it from a similar house down the block. Lighting can add functionality to your home, too. Consider upgrading to ceiling fan light fixture units in the warmest rooms in your house. Update prominent fixtures, like the pendant light in your entry and the chandelier or other fixture in your dining room. It’s also a good idea to add task lighting if your kitchen doesn’t include under cabinet fixtures or other task lighting solutions.
If you’ve lived in the same home for a number of years, it’s a good bet you’ve made the space your own. All those delightfully personal features make your house — well, home. They also make it more difficult for a potential new buyer to imagine him or herself in the space. Any measures you take now to depersonalize your home will help transform it into a new chapter in someone else’s life. Evaluate those dinosaur festooned bedroom curtains, the rooster wallpaper border in the kitchen and the adorable jungle gym in the backyard with an eye toward how someone else will view them. If they don’t have broad appeal, consider removing them now and replacing them with something more generic.
8. Accessorize The Kitchen
There’s an old adage that people don’t buy houses, they buy kitchens. If your kitchen needs a makeover, now is the time to reface your cabinets, update your appliances and replace your countertops. Even if you don’t have a big budget to work with, there are still things you can do to make your kitchen look more appealing. Replace accessory items like the light fixtures, the faucet and the cabinet door handles and drawer pulls. Switch out the textiles for crisp, new coordinated curtains, rugs and towels in currently popular colors. If your kitchen looks tidy and welcoming, your home will look more engaging.
9. Beautify The Bath
Your bathroom may never be ready for a spread in “House Beautiful,” but you can still make it look better. Small changes can reap great visual benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Change out a small, dated vanity for a pedestal sink to achieve a modern look.
- Replace the toilet with a new, energy efficient model.
- Add a wooden frame to a bare mirror for a more finished look.
- Increase storage with a wall mounted shelf or corner storage unit.
- Replace the shower curtain with a new style floor to ceiling curtain and liner.
- If you have the space to work with, replace a single vanity with a double. Depending on your layout, this may not incur much additional plumbing work.
10. Make It Photogenic
These days some of the heavy lifting involved in selling a home is done online with a photo layout. As you update, upgrade and reevaluate your home’s features and amenities, plan your strategy with a photographer’s eye. A view from above looking down on your entry could appear more dramatic with the addition of a geometric tile floor.
Your living room would probably also look more opulent if you rearranged the furnishings to feature the palladium window or the fireplace. This is a function of clever planning and staging that develops and showcases the best features of your interior and exterior spaces. The better you understand that now, the more likely you are to cultivate appealing features and market them effectively.
11. Clean House
A clean house is easier to sell. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your pet free home is in resale condition just because occupancy has been limited to the two footed variety. Dirty carpets, stained tile grout and grimy kitchen cabinets may not be deal breakers, but they could cause concern about the types of neglect hiding out of sight. A weekend cleaning marathon can work wonders on a home, so don’t be shy about getting your hands dirty in an effort to make your home look spotless. Is this an upgrade? If your house is dirty, you bet it is.