1.Maximize curb appeal
The outside should draw people inside. Neatly trimmed bushes, mulched beds, weeded lawns all help make that crucial "first impression". Freshly painted front doors with new mailboxes and house numbers are easy ways to create maximum impact without breaking the bank. Adding seasonal urns by the front door for some color are another way to brighten up concrete steps or boring brick.
2. Choose a neutral color palette
Bold colors are great for living, but not for selling. Light and Bright should be your motto! Stick with a warm, neutral palette like tans, taupes, and greys. Avoid dark colors, especially in small spaces (like powder rooms). Keep the ceilings white to keep walls looking tall. Rule of thumb, if the walls haven't been painted in over 2 years, now is the Time!
Return on investment: 109 percent*
3. Let there be light
Lighting plays a vital role and is often overlooked when getting a property ready for sale. Dark hallways, rooms with little natural light, basements, and bathrooms should be addressed. A minimum of a 2-bulb overhead fixture with maximum watt bulbs can transform a dingy area. There should be NO overhead receptacles without a light fixture! Consider adding pendant fixtures in dining rooms and eating areas. Big box stores offer affordable options in brushed nickel or silver fittings.
Adding ambient lighting is essential especially in areas where there is no overhead outlets. Adding table lamps and floor lamps will help brighten up any room and help your property appear as "light-filled" as possible.
Return on investment: 303 percent*
This is the other main area that always increases the value of a home. It will ALWAYS cost you less to replace worn carpet or add new flooring then to leave it to the new home owners.
Most purchasers are looking for reasons to discount their offers. Flooring is one of the first things buyers see when they walk in. If their first thought is "I will need to replace these floors", I guarantee they are discounting their offers $5000-$10000 for condos and $7000 – $15000 for houses. Doing the work yourself will cost you a fraction of that amount.
Return on investment: 107 percent*
5. It's all in the details
Replace all burnt out bulbs, touch up any nicks and dents in high traffic areas, replace torn screens, and fix leaking faucets. Once the fix-ups are done it's time to focus on the pretty stuff. Fresh linens in the bathrooms, a bowl of fresh green apples on a kitchen island, fresh flowers on a dining table or in the entranceway.
Adding live or silk greenery to bathrooms and adding a new crisp bedding set to the Master all help create the impression of a well-cared for home.
6. Clean, clean, clean
This may seem like common sense, but unfortunately, it's still the one area owners tend to try and shortcut. This is the time to hire a professional cleaning company. Special attention should be placed on appliances, inside and outside of cupboards, baseboards, and windows. Bathrooms should be scoured and if necessary use grout cleaner to get the tiles looking spotless!
7. Highlight best use of the space
Tenants may have liked to use the dining room as an office, but it should be shown with it's intended purpose. Giving a room more than one function (i.e. guest room and office) is a great way to effectively show the space. In condos, this becomes essential when space is at a premium.
Using small glass desks with a stool you can tuck in can creatively introduce a "workspace" where one wouldn't think possible. Adding a daybed to a den/office creates extra sleeping space. Determine what adds the most value to potential buyers in your neighborhood and showcase the space accordingly.
8. Kitchens and bathrooms are the places to invest.
If you have dated cabinetry, cracked and worn laminate counters, chipped or broken tiles, consider investing in repairing and upgrading these rooms.
If your budget is limited, changing cabinetry hardware to brushed nickel or silver knobs and handles will give it an immediate appeal. Consider painting cabinetry instead of replacing them.
Depending on the price point of your property it is often worthwhile to install stone counters. This immediately adds value and is very durable for long term use. If stone is not in the budget, consider a "stone-like" laminate counter. Recaulking around sinks and bathtubs is a simple improvement that can greatly improve the look of a bathroom.
Return on investment: 172 percent*
Remember, Vacant properties sit, staged properties sell!
Staged homes sell 2 – 3 times faster and up to 6 percent more than unstaged ones**. People perceive staged units that are well decorated as worth more. Professional stagers know how to highlight the features of the unit and distract from any "not so desirable" features.
If your budget is limited consider focusing on the main living areas and at least one bedroom. If you can't borrow furniture and artwork, rental companies carry everything from furniture to linens. Just keep in mind that the goal is to show people how to use the space effectively.