The housing market has changed dramatically over the past five years, especially in states that were hardest hit including Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, and Georgia. But things you can and should do to increase the value of your home remain unchanged. You can’t control the number of foreclosures surrounding your house, of course. But you can address your home’s “curb appeal,” making your realtor’s job easier and increasing the possibility of selling your home at a high price. Here are eight free or inexpensive ways to increase the value of your home.
- Mow the lawn: Realtors use the term “curb appeal” to refer to how a house for sale looks from the outside. So if you’ve been letting your lawn go, now’s the time to get back into a regular routine of mowing it, at least once every two weeks. Put on some gardening gloves and pull weeds, trim the hedges, and add a layer of mulch to your flower beds. Depending on the season and what part of the country you live in, you might also consider spraying for pests that can damage or destroy your lawn.
- Feng Shui: By “feng shui” what we really mean is get rid of all the crap that’s been piling up over the years and will prevent potential buyers from seeing the breadth and depth of the interiors of your home. If you’re planning a move anyway, sorting through and selling or giving away items you don’t need will give you a head start on that process. You can also move items temporarily into a storage unit until your house is sold.
- If you can smell it, you can’t sell it!: Your realtor may tell you, “If you can smell it, you can’t sell it.” What this means is that if upon entering a house for sale a potential buyer smells mold, cat urine, or dirty socks, chances are good they’re going to turn around and leave. If you’re not sure what your house actually smells like, have a (trusted) friend come by and give you their opinion. Wash any laundry, clean your carpets, and check to see if you have mold in areas where moisture gathers. Some sellers go so far as to have cookies or pies baking in a for sale home’s oven when potential buyers arrive, but it’s better to try and eliminate bad smells instead of trying to cover them up!
- Fix that roof: Not spending money to fix roof in need of repairs before it comes time to negotiate your home’s selling price will end up costing you more money in the long run. A good, leak free roof is expected by any home buyer, and a roof in need of repair greatly diminishes the value of a home. Even if your roof isn’t leaking, have an inspector check it out, especially if it’s over 15 years old.
- Go green: It may surprise you that eco-friendly homes are highly valued, mainly because over the long term, green upgrades will save the owner money. Tankless water heaters and water saving plumbing fixtures, as well as renewable resources for finishes, including bamboo flooring, are worth the initial investment for the purely selfish reason that such upgrades will increase the value of your home.
- Upgrade your kitchen’s cabinets and appliances: Upgrading your kitchen cabinets and appliances may seem costly, but consider that the kitchen is often the most scrutinized room in your home. You can definitely replace three to five year old appliances, such as your microwave or a coffee maker, without breaking your bank. Upgrading your cabinets may only involve installing new handles and adding a fresh coat of paint.
- Paint: Speaking of paint, if you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, then it’s time to invest in a paint roller and a drop cloth or two. You’ll also want to take time to fill in any holes and cracks with spackle. Any evidence you discover of water damage should be addressed immediately. When selecting paint colors, keep it neutral; choose off-white and other yellow-based tones. Buyers will have their own colors in mind when they’re looking at and considering the interiors of your home.
- “Dress” your house: “Dressing” a house is a broad way of describing all of little things you can do to coordinate, and spruce up the interior of your home. Buy new, fluffy towels for the bathroom and matching bathroom rug as well. And don’t forget a soap dish that matches a tooth brush holder. If your bed’s comforter is faded and threadbare, get a new one. Ask your realtor for additional suggestions for inexpensive items you can buy to dress up your home. She or he will appreciate your attention to detail.