Banking & Savings

15 Home Improvement Projects to Complete Before You List Your Home

If you’re planning to list your home for sale, you’ll want to make a great first impression. That usually means making a few repairs and upgrades, inside and out.

Here are 15 home improvements you might want to complete to help your home sell quickly — and at the best possible price:

Paint the exterior of your housePaint the interior of your houseRefinish or replace flooringFix or replace window and door screensRemove wallpaperRefresh countertopsReplace light fixturesDeep clean your homeGet a new roofSpruce up your landscapeCreate an outdoor living spaceHave your home stagedFix leaky plumbingCorrect obvious safety problemsReplace knobs and handles

1. Paint the exterior of your house

Few things can revitalize a house like a fresh paint job. The prep work will eliminate many of your home’s blemishes — like chips and cracks in the trim — to help it look newer.

More than just an aesthetic update, painting the exterior also prevents moisture and termite damage and helps the home stay in good condition for many years to come.

If a full paint job is not in your budget, consider having a professional pressure wash your home and touch up any areas where the paint is chipped or flaking.

2. Paint the interior of your house

Painting the inside of your house is a cost effective way to spruce it up. It’s also fairly easy if you have a steady hand and an eye for detail. Just make sure you can complete the proper preparations. That means cleaning the walls, filling and sanding holes, taping off trim, and protecting floors with drop cloths.

You can paint an entire room in a day or two, and with some planning you could do all the rooms in your home over a few weekends. Consult with your real estate agent about the best neutral colors to appeal to a wide range of buyers and ask your local paint store about the best tools and paint for the job.

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3. Refinish or replace flooring

Historic wooden floors are often an essential part of a home’s character and a desirable feature for buyers. They can also be refinished if they’re not looking their best anymore. Durable tile, stone, and engineered hardwood can look good for decades with the proper care.

But if you have old carpet or worn-out vinyl, replacement may be your best bet. Old carpet harbors stains, smells, and allergens; old vinyl can make your home look cheap. Ask your real estate agent for advice on the most popular flooring choices in your area and consider making a replacement.

If you’ll be selling your home with its existing floors, consider having them professionally cleaned. This affordable option will still help your home show better (and possibly smell nicer, too).

4. Fix or replace window and door screens

Bent or torn window and door screens, especially on the front of your home, leave your property looking neglected. Plus, damaged screens can’t do their job of letting fresh air in while keeping insects out.

Low-cost fixes include cleaning and patching (or completely removing) damaged screens. An ideal solution, if it fits your budget, is to replace the screens with new ones.

If you’re handy, you can replace them yourself. Otherwise, professional services are available to measure and install custom window screens onsite at your home. And if you’re not in a hurry, you can take the measurements yourself and order custom screens online.

5. Remove wallpaper

Wallpaper can make a striking impression, but not always a good one. Tastes in patterns and textures vary more than tastes in paint colors, and buyers won’t be excited about the messy and time-consuming prospect of removing an unsightly wallpaper. Taking care of this task before listing your home will put it one step closer to being turnkey.

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6. Refresh countertops

After the exterior, the kitchen may be the next most important thing for catching a buyer’s attention. While a full kitchen remodel is a time-consuming and expensive undertaking that is unlikely to provide a good return on your investment, replacing outdated or worn-out countertops is a simpler solution that can make a big difference.

If that’s out of the question, look into resealing, resurfacing, or refinishing. The best option will depend on your countertop material.

7. Replace light fixtures

Older homes often have older fixtures, or mismatched fixtures from a variety of decades. New light fixtures, both inside and out, can update a home’s look for minimal expense and effort. They can also help you create a cohesive style, from traditional to mid-century modern to contemporary.

When you replace the fixtures, you can also install smart light bulbs. These allow you to adjust each bulb’s color, temperature, and brightness right from your phone to create the perfect ambience. Plus, these bulbs use energy-efficient, money-saving LEDs and last for years.

8. Deep clean your home

Even if you’re still living in your home until it sells, a deep clean before listing it will make a big difference. We all become somewhat blind to the hard water stains by the sink, the dust on our drapes, and the grime on our windows. If scrubbing isn’t your favorite form of stress relief, hire a professional cleaning service. They’ll knock out these tasks and many more to make your house sparkle.

9. Get a new roof

A new roof is not a glamorous or exciting home improvement project. It’s also not an expense future homeowners want to deal with. What they do want is the security of knowing that the major purchase they’re about to make won’t suffer water damage from a leak the next time it rains. If your roof is nearing the end of its life, consider getting some bids to replace it.

It’s possible that this project will be too costly to be worth the investment, and it’s not a good place to test your DIY skills. But do keep in mind that if a buyer’s home inspector says your roof is shot, you might have to lower your asking price.

Related: Home Improvement Loans

10. Spruce up your landscape

Curb appeal is the first thing a prospective buyer will notice when they come to your home, and your yard can make or break their impression. Bright flowers and neatly trimmed hedges will help them envision the compliments their guests will give them at the housewarming party. Weeds will make them wonder how much to budget for gardening service.

Also keep in mind that less is more. Buyers will appreciate a clear view of the house, so if your trees are overgrown or your potted plant collection has overtaken the front porch, look for ways to scale back.

11. Create an outdoor living space

Speaking of guests, many buyers love the idea of relaxing and entertaining in the backyard. Try to convince them that your home is the place to do it (after they buy it, of course).

You don’t need to build an outdoor kitchen to check this item off your list. Simply create an outdoor space that suggests an inviting place to gather, like four comfortable chairs around a fire pit or a long picnic table with colorful place settings.

12. Have your home staged

The most functional items for comfortable living, like reclining sofas and blackout curtains, usually aren’t the most attractive options for showing off your home. That’s why you might want to use a home staging company.

Home staging is technically not a home improvement, but it will make your home massively more appealing to buyers. A professional designer’s staging tricks and arsenal of furniture and decor can make your home look like the bright, airy, and on-trend “after” shots from your favorite home improvement show.

13. Fix leaky plumbing

Similar to replacing the roof, this one’s not exciting. But if buyers see a dripping faucet or shower head, they might wonder what other maintenance you’ve neglected.

If your fixtures are fancy, they may be worth repairing. Otherwise, a replacement might be the best option, especially if the repair would be labor intensive or the fixture is old. Consider enlisting a handyman or plumber for this work if you’re not interested in crawling under the sink.

Also See: 8 Popular Pandemic Home Renovations to Transform Your Space

14. Correct obvious safety problems

If your smoke detectors don’t work, the furnace is broken, or the stair railing is loose, buyers (or at least their home inspectors) will notice.

Similar to leaky faucets, safety issues are a sign of neglect. They can also prevent buyers from getting approved for certain mortgages. Bite the bullet and pay for these repairs up front.

15. Replace knobs and handles

Here’s a project almost anyone can crank out with a ratcheting screwdriver and a trip to the hardware store. Unscrew all the scratched up and worn out drawer handles and cabinet knobs in your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room and replace them. Make sure to select new ones with the same hole alignment. This minor improvement can make a surprisingly big difference, especially if your hardware is dated.

Consider a cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance can help you pay for multiple home projects and lower your mortgage rate. It can be a good choice if you’re not moving anytime soon. If selling is in your shorter-term plans, consult with your real estate agent to go over the most profitable home improvements that’ll help you sell your home.

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