Attract Buyers with Updates

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Are you thinking of putting your home on the market? Many homeowners think that houses need expensive remodels to sell quickly and at a good price.

Of course, buyers expect the basics, such as a roof that doesn’t leak, working heating and cooling systems and a dry basement. Fix these and minor problems such as dripping faucets and sticking drawers, if necessary. But, as far as the aesthetics are concerned, while most houses can use some upgrades, there are many cost-effective ways to get a home ready to sell.

Curb Appeal
Make a good first impression; paint the front door a bright and welcoming color. Install a new mailbox, add new house numbers that can be seen easily from the street and replace the old outside light with a new, more fashionable fixture.

Greet buyers with a new welcome mat on the front step. If the doorknob is dated, such as shiny brass, replace it with one that’s stylish and maybe unique, something that will help buyers remember your house after a day of viewing a dozen other homes.

If there is snow, make sure the walks are snow- and ice-free. In the fall, rake and remove all the fallen leaves and in summer months, keep the lawn mowed. Add some large potted plants near the front steps. Flowering plants such as petunias, verbena, cape daisy, begonias and flowering kale are attractive choices.

Fresh Paint
Freshly painted walls can make all the difference between a home that looks well maintained and one that seems neglected. Avoid painting in dark colors, which can make rooms seem smaller, but don’t go with stark white. Most paint companies have websites of their top neutral colors, which is a good place to start.

The Kitchen
It isn’t necessary to remodel an entire kitchen. Small changes can make a big difference. More frugal upgrades can include changing out the lighting and the cabinet hardware. You don’t need to install new cabinets if the old ones are dated. You can simply change the cabinet doors.

If the kitchen floor is in bad shape or old-fashioned, consider replacing it. New flooring choices for kitchens can include wood, cork, stone or tile. Another easy choice is sheet vinyl, which comes in a number of styles and can imitate the look of tile or stone.

Another new trend for kitchen floors is linoleum, which is making a comeback in home design. Homeowners can choose a number of colors and styles and can even have designs carved into the flooring. An additional benefit is that linoleum is made from all-natural materials such as linseed oil and jute.

Other Flooring Choices
In public areas such as living rooms and dining rooms, hardwood floors are recommended. Get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting. If there are hardwoods under the carpeting, see if they can be refinished once the carpet is removed. If that’s not possible, new hardwood floors are a more expensive option, but they can add two to three percent to the value of a house. There is a reason that “gleaming hardwood floors” shows up in home sales advertising.

While carpet is less desirable in some parts of a home, it is often welcome in bedrooms or in finished basements, especially in cooler climates. If the carpet is old or dirty, replace it. There are a number of styles and fiber types to choose from, so make a choice based on what looks good and what feels good beneath bare feet. Don’t skimp on the padding. Use a high-quality, heavyweight padding under the carpet.

This is one room in which having fun with interior design is encouraged. Start with the mundane, such as re-caulking sinks, toilets, tubs and showers. Then replace outdated brass sink, tub and shower faucets with newer styles and don’t be afraid to choose something unusual. Add attractive new lighting systems and install new, large mirrors that will make the room seem more spacious. While most rooms should be painted with more neutral colors, the bathroom is an exception. You can choose bold colors and add an accent wall. Newer large tiles are trendy and reduce maintenance, or consider a patterned floor.

Declutter and Clean, Clean, Clean
Most importantly, unclutter the entire house. You will be moving anyway, so pack away out-of-season items, knick-knacks and remove items such as family photos or awards that can keep the buyer from visualizing themselves in the home. And clean, clean, clean. This includes inside cabinets, closets and under beds. Appliances, sinks, the shower and the toilet need to be spotless. Clean behind the fridge. Yes, buyers will look in those places.

Finally, ask your real estate agent for advice on how to stage your home. Take your agent’s advice, and then get ready to sell! ■

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