Low Cost, High Value
A home buyer naturally wants a place to call his own. Your goal should be to make the house feel less like yours and more like new construction. Even if you completed all of the following projects, the total cost would only amount to a few hundred dollars. Focus on the ones that are relevant to your situation, and with only a minimal investment of time and sweat, there's reason to expect a worthwhile payback.
It almost goes without saying: Dust bunnies and window smudges are huge turnoffs. Before showing your home to prospective buyers, consider hiring a service to clean the carpeting and remove stains from upholstery. Meanwhile, do your part by keeping kitchen and bathroom surfaces clean and by minimizing clutter in bedrooms and living spaces.
Be sure that in the bathroom, all corners appear conscientiously maintained. Recaulk around the tub; replace the shower curtain and liner; and if the toilet seat has seen better days, put it in a new one. These quick and inexpensive improvements won't necessarily impress, but they'll prevent the buyer from finding a reason to run the other way.
Turn it off for the house tour but in the hours before a visit—particularly during the summer months—remember to run a dehumidifier in the basement. Even in below-grade spaces with no history of water problems, high humidity promotes mildew and the accompanying odors. You don’t want that.
Don't overlook the humble doormat; it's actually one of the first things a buyer might notice about your home. The right choice ought not to reveal, say, your quirky sense of humor or idiosyncratic taste in color. Rather, it should be attractive (in a middle-of-the-road way) and in good condition. The subtle message: You've taken good care of the home interior over the years.
If the bedroom is painted purple and the living room boasts a bold shade of orange, re-paint those rooms in a neutral color. Even if non-offensive tones are already prevalent in your home, think about applying a fresh coat of paint. Nothing else can so easily and affordably make a room look like new.
Floors take a beating. If yours look worn, you can probably renew their look without the hassle and expense of proper refinishing. To make an old wood floor shine, for example, check out one of the many water-based products available from home centers and flooring stores. Try the product in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire floor.
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