Deciding to sell your home is usually a choice made to improve your life in some way and usually for a positive (happy) reason. Downsizing so you can travel or fish more, upsizing because you’re expecting twins, relocating because you landed that dream job in North Carolina are all great reasons to move and counter-balance the unpleasant task of getting a home ready for sale.
When you are moving for a greater purpose, normally you can afford to do some of the projects needed to garner top dollar for your home. But what if you have to move for a difficult reason? You’re going through a divorce, death of a spouse, job loss, or going into assisted living? It’s likely that you would not have cash on hand to pull out the old bathroom vinyl and replace with tile, add landscaping to the yard, or purchase new linens for every bath and bedroom. However, you need to net the most money possible from your home. How do you compete with other homes on the market?
As a Realtor® and an Accredited Home Staging professional, I have been faced with this challenge in my career and these are my CHEAP tips:
The cheapest things ANYone & everyone should do. Clean & De-clutter. A home’s cleanliness is the most important impression a buyer has of a home. A very dusty, cluttered high-end, upscale home with every amazing feature possible will not show as well as a tidy, more modest home in the same neighborhood. Go through each room with a ‘buyer’s eye’. Note what a buyer might think entering each room. Clean the baseboards, walls and floors. Spot treat any carpet stains. Clean your carpets if needed (you can do this yourself). If you have a carpet ‘dent’ or imprint, try this trick. Place an ice cube on the dent and as it melts, it expands the carpet back to its original shape. Make sure your bathrooms are always sparkling clean and toilet lids are down. In your kitchen, clean the oven, microwave & sink regularly. Especially if it’s old. Pack away cookbooks, plastic or silk flowers in vases, ‘vines’ or other foliage lining the cupboards. Remove any table cloths. Keep table clean & clear of clutter. Do not feel a need to ‘set’ the table. A large bowl with fresh fruit is always your best accessory in a kitchen.
Put away collections, personal photos, toys, small area rugs, personal hygiene products in the bathrooms & bedrooms, coats, shoes, etc., out of view. Decluttering is really the first step to packing up to move-you will have to do it when the house sells anyway, so why not get a head-start? Utilize plastic bins for kid’s toys for quick clean up. Now that you’ve removed personal photos, you realize you have blank walls. A suggestion to add some CHEAP art, is to go through magazines or calendars and pick out some cool pictures of scenes (especially local) and buy dollar store black frames & create a wall collage.
Do any rooms feel cramped? Try removing a piece of furniture. You especially want the Family Room or Living space to feel large and inviting. If you need to remove the recliner to achieve this- do it! A buyer must be able to feel that he or she has the space to put furniture in and still move around comfortably. If you can’t afford a storage space, ask a friend or use your garage for storage.
Go through your closets and start packing off-season clothes away. Also, in the Master closet, take the time to organize it so that it feels spacious. Keep shoes neatly lined up & have a bit of space between all hung clothing. Clear the top shelves.
Some good ideas to add some ‘designer detail’ cheaply include buying some burlap ribbon to tie around bath or kitchen towels for contemporary impact. Instead of stuffy tablecloths, use a burlap runner or 2 width-wise across the table. Utilize white or neutral colored candles lined up on a long, narrow tray as a mantle-top update. Plants also used sparingly are great additions for vacant corners of the home. A ‘jungle’ of plants is not. Trim old lamp shades with black (or neutral colored) ribbon at the base of the shade. Paint outdated lamp bases.
Speaking of paint…This is the one place you will want to spend money if able, to get back the most bang for your buck. PAINT a room if it is not neutral, the walls are stained, or the color is outdated…or outlandish (teen’s room). Check out Houzz.com or other like sites for color ideas. Especially focus on Master Bedroom & bath, Family areas and kitchen areas.
Curb Appeal: You may not be able to afford to replace shrubs or hire a landscaper to trim back overhanging trees, but at the very least, you want to have a clear path to your entry and a well-trimmed lawn. You will need to trim back bushes near the front of your house and if you can spend $25.00, definitely use it to plant a few annuals near the entry and add a flower pot with some cheery flowers near your front door. The front door area needs to be free of spider webs and dirt and the door itself should look good. Re-stain or paint it if necessary. Make sure your lawn, front & back, is tidy. Pick up kid’s toys, lawn equipment, roll up hoses and stack neatly along side of the house. If you can’t afford to re-stain the deck, see if painting it is an option or at the very least, wash it off so it is clean and add a flower pot or two. Clean the screen porch and declutter to make it look inviting.
To sum up: Cleaning and de-cluttering do not cost anything and are the priority. If you have a bit of money to spend, focus on paint & curb appeal. You can feel confident that your home has what it takes to compete with the rest.