Getting a home ready for sale is never an easy task. That’s why it’s so important to not expend a lot of money and time on projects that aren’t going to affect the overall sale price. If you’re getting ready to sell your home these projects are considered to be the best bang for your buck, or in this case, the most value for your precious time.
Clean and Declutter
This is definitely the place to start when getting ready to sell a home. It doesn’t matter how many high-end fixtures, what the square footage is, or even the price if your buyers can’t see past a pile of trash. You might find yourself cleaning areas up naturally as you make improvements, but you need to make sure there’s absolutely no trash or random piles anywhere on the property. If you have contractors working on-site, be sure to hold them to the same standard.
Outside Prep (Curb Appeal)
Following on our cleanup efforts, take the good fight to the front yard. A bag of grass seed, some light terrain leveling with a rake, and some fresh mulch can take a spotty and unsightly yard to something clean and tidy in as little as a few weeks. You don’t need to buy any expensive tools or attempt any large-scale landscaping projects, just tidy up what you have. Renting an edger for an afternoon can bring back those clean lines that make a yard look sharp. You’ll also want to clean the gutters and repair any damage visible from the street. Mailboxes can also use a little love if yours is looking worn out.
Tone Down the Paint
Those yellow highlights in the kitchen might have been refreshing when you decided to rip out those old brown cabinets years ago, but your buyers might not feel the same way. It’s time to turn the walls back to something neutral in the white, grey, or beige territory. It might feel boring, but the point is to provide a clean canvas that your buyers can picture themselves in. This should be followed throughout the house, toning down any extravagant colors to something more neutral. If you painted a wall something dark and heavy like green, red, or black, you might find that multiple coats are required to cover it up entirely.
Tone Up the Trim
Now that you’ve got the walls back to a safer hue, it’s time to make the borders pop with some high gloss trim paint. Crown molding, chair rails, and shoe molding can come back to life with a nice coat of some high gloss white. You’ll want to be careful and use painters’ tape if you’re not comfortable cutting in your lines in a tidy manner. Don’t make a bigger mess by being a sloppy painter. Go slow, use drop cloths and painters’ tape to keep the lines clean and sharp. Good border contrast helps to make spaces feel even more bright and open, and that allows you to really show off the square footage.
This isn’t the easiest project labor wise (scrubbing often required), and sometimes not even possible depending on the age and material of your window and door hardware. Older homes also run the risk of lead paint and you should definitely take proper precautions if you believe your home or hardware was ever painted with lead paint. If lead isn’t a worry, boiling hinges and window locks in some water with some baking soda will loosen old paint without removing the patina. If you don’t mind restoring it to a newer shine, a wire brush wheel is probably the fastest way to clean up old hardware.
If you don’t have a table-mounted grinder, you can still find wire brush drill attachments. You’ll just have to secure the hardware well while you’re brushing. Be sure to give the same treatment to the screw heads if you managed not to strip them during removal. This can be pretty tedious, but makes a big difference in the end. There’s lots of metal cleaning products like Brasso or Bar Keepers Friend, and depending on your hardware construction, it can be extremely effective in bringing back the shine. For delicate or older hardware there are companies that will provide a variety of treatments to restore them to like new, but it does take time. If you can live without door hinges for a couple weeks, this might be a consideration.
Squeeze out some square footage
We’re getting into some of the more intense projects, but considering material and labor costs versus return on your housing value, finishing a basement or attic space can add major dollars onto the value. You might need to hire a contractor, but framing and drywall aren’t the most challenging projects if you go slow and measure well. Knee walls, shorter walls usually constructed under roof pitches, can turn a mostly empty attic space into a home office space or extra bedroom if a window is present (bedroom code requirements vary by state). Try to keep heating and cooling in mind as you finish these spaces out. You might need to install a standalone AC if your current HVAC ducts don’t run through the space.
Build a Deck
No rooms left to finish out but still want to create some space? Decks don’t add to the raw square footage, but they definitely provide visible and useable space in the yard. They can also cover up unsightly parts of the yard if you’re having trouble making it look good. This is another spot you’ll want to hire a contractor if you’re not comfortable pouring footings and framing with lumber, but a deck can be a great weekend project for you and some friends. Don’t go too massive or too complicated, add just enough deck space to entertain a few guests that also compliments the yard or home.
None of these projects will break the bank compared to updating appliances or renovating a bathroom, but the combined effect can make your home appear to be worth way more than the listed price. Homes that appear loved and well-kept are always more attractive to buyers, regardless of the neighborhood and square footage. It’s the little details that set it apart from the rest.