This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in May 2015.
Selling your home? The real estate market is ready to throw you plenty of curve balls that will keep you on your toes. Put your best foot forward, and do what you can in order to make your home shine.
Perform basic indoor maintenance:
Consider how you would like the house to look when you’re moving in – sometimes it can be hard to look past a seller’s personal belongings, but it’s harder to look past damaged drywall, dirty fixtures, and cloudy windows.
- Fill all nail holes (the ones that aren’t holding your art on the walls), and repaint over the patches. I know it’s more work, but for a flawless and smooth finish, you may find the best results by painting a wide area (or the whole wall) to avoid the repair looking “patchy.”
- White trim? Boy, does that stuff get discolored and dirty. Start by cleaning it well with a damp rag and cleaner. You might even find that an entirely fresh coat of white paint goes a long ways.
- Dingy radiators? Paint them. (And paint behind the radiators too.)
- Clean the rise on staircases – this is the vertical piece of your stairs that gets scuffed when kicked by shoes. It’s also the part of the stairs you see the most when you’re looking right at them. Use soap and water to gently remove dirt. If they’re carpeted, be sure to run the vacuum over all areas.
- Use a grout cleaner on shower walls and floors. If you’re down for a bigger project, bathroom updates are usually well-received.
- Shower head covered with build up? I know, it still works, and you’ve been using it just happily, but it looks gross. Replace it with a new shower head for <$30 and reap that back at closing.
- Pay special attention to the floors before each showing. Vacuum the carpet, sweep the floors, and clean all surfaces. Get more tips here on how to make those hardwood floors shine.
- Check all caulk – it tends to wear away after years of cleaning, and discolors with age. If the caulk doesn’t seem to be at its best, repair and reapply the caulk for the low cost of $5. I like to use white caulk when bordering white fixtures or tile in the bathroom, or clear silicone, if a border of pure white would look out of place with colored fixtures and walls.
- Clean all windows – both indoors and out. In addition to simply looking clean, clean windows let in more light, and a naturally lit home is a beautiful thing. Run a vacuum over the screens, your curtains, and dust all of the blinds while you’re at it, too.
- If you have torn screens on sliding doors or windows, replace them. With a roll of screen and new spline, you can completely repair a whole sliding door screen in less than an hour.
- Make sure that all of your kitchen cabinet knobs are tight, not loose when you pull them. You might find that adding accent knobs to feature spots adds appeal.
- Dust both the ceiling and all of those ceiling lights – make them cobweb and dust-free.
- Clean all appliances inside and out. Got stainless? Get tips for streak-free stainless steel appliances.
A little landscaping work goes a long way:
- No need to bring in a professional team for light landscaping. Weed garden beds, add mulch (if not everywhere, at least to the significant beds in your front yard for curb appeal), and prune trees and shrubs to give the property a well-maintained appearance.
- Plant annuals in the garden bed, or in planters on your porch or deck (if they’re in a freestanding pot, you’ll be able to transport them to your new house once the sale is official).
- Pressure wash sidewalks and stone patios to clean away bird droppings and debris.
- Keep the lawn well-mowed, and create a defined edge where the grass meets sidewalks and driveways.
- Sweep leaves that have collected on flat roofs and valleys.
- Keep the deck staged – a staged house can sell easier than a vacant house, so do what you can to make the outdoor living spaces as desirable as the indoors. Add a bird feeder or a hummingbird feeder for additional appeal.
If you’re selling during the fall and winter months:
- Leave entry lights on, so that passersby get a sense of its presence during the days with shorter daylight.
- Keep storm door glass clean, as that’s what people will encounter first when they walk into the house.
- Even if it’s not owner-occupied, keep the home’s thermostat set to a comfortable temperature – and be sure to repair drafts with improved insulation!
If you’re working with a realtor, they may have additional recommendations for home improvements based on your personal circumstances, the housing market in your area, surrounding comparable properties. They’ll also offer staging tips depending on what you have displayed in your home (there’s a tasteful vs. distasteful ratio that they’ll beg you to consider). Good luck!