10 Cheap Home Improvements That Can Dramatically Raise Your Sale Price

old houses on a street

Photo: Wikicommons

So the economy still sucks, but it’s time to sell your apartment.Perhaps you’ve already lost out on your initial property investment — the average price of American homes hasn’t dropped dropped like this since the Great Depression — and now you’re low on cash to spruce up the place. 

No worries. We’ve compiled 10 easy tips for sprucing up your property and getting a higher sale price.

#1 Get rid of your junk!

The old saying that 'one man's junk is another man's treasure' is definitely NOT the case when you're trying to sell your pad. Cluttered counters, floors or even closets can be distracting and a real turn-off for buyers.

'I think people can get rid of up to 50 per cent of their stuff,' says Corcoran salesperson Lucy Perry. 'If you have a bunch of books, put three-fourths of them in storage or somewhere else.'

She said people want to imagine themselves in the space they're looking to buy and that's easier if the space looks less lived-in and personal.

'When they see a really neat apartment, they think, 'I'm gonna live here and I'm gonna be really neat too,' said Perry.

A less cluttered space will also make the space look bigger. So put away those toys, shoes, clothes, and photos. Your junk isn't the buyer's treasure -- it's just junk.

# 2 Do a deep clean.

Scrub every nook and corner, every crack and far-reaching spot. Carpets should be sucked dry of dust, and all surfaces should be wiped to shine, including windows and screens, and especially windows.

As Perry explains, clean windows let in more light, and if you happen to have a great view, clean windows will really show it off.

Ideally, you should get your apartment or house professionally cleaned, but if you're really strapped for cash, be your own Mary Poppins.

#3 Paint your heart out.

One of the best ways to freshen up an apartment or home is to give it a good paint job. Just stay away from dark colours or anything too jazzy.

Many realtors recommend variations of white, especially reflective whites that lighten up a room and make the space feel bigger.

Don't use too many colours, and if the trimmings on the walls look beat up, just paint right over them.

#4 Re-grout the bathroom and re-do the tub.

Re-grouting the bathrooms will give them a fresher look, helping prospective buyers forget about who's been using the shower.

'If the bathroom is really yucky you might also want to paint, and even re-glaze,' said Perry, the real estate broker.

#5 Let there be light!

Inexpensive lighting is an easy way to modernize. If there's an old chandelier or crummy built-in fixture, go somewhere like Ikea to freshen things up.

Also, make sure to increase the wattage in dark rooms that lack natural lighting to help them seem larger.

#6 Do more with your basement.

Have a basement, attic, garage or patio? Do something with it!

Put away the tools, woodcraft and sewing machine. Hide storage boxes at your friend's place, and paint the place.

This will help prospective buyers envision using that basement for their own handiwork.

#7 Spruce up your kitchen.

You probably don't have the money to replace your old appliances, so just make sure they work well enough and look shiny.

You should still paint your kitchen cabinets, however. Don't bother with anything on the inside, but on the outside use a white or neutral semi-gloss colour. It will make your kitchen look as good as new (almost).

#8 Fix your floors.

Refinishing your floors will make the apartment look clean, but you might end up splurging about $3.50 per square foot (at least in New York).

A cheaper alternative is simply to deep clean, and really scrub away those dirt stains.

If you have carpet, rent a steam machine. If you have hardwoods, then buff and polish. And if you happen to have one of those old-school vinyl floors, buy some light-coloured vinyl squares to fill in any empty spots.

#9 Replace the small hardware.

Sometimes little details make all the difference.

So throw away those decayed-looking switch-plate covers and replace them with new ones made of brushed metal. Get rid of the pulls in the kitchen and put in others made of brushed nickel. And put in some door hinges, sans the rust.

#10 Try a new door.

It can be as cheap as 20 bucks and make a world of difference, especially if it's your front door that looks crummy. Buy some paint or stain and slap it on or consider shopping around.

What you don't want to do, warns Perry, is end up throwing down for something pricey.

'The expensive door may be what the buyer is looking for, maybe not,' she said.

Be on the safe (and better) side by going cheap.

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