Frugal Strategies for Selling Your Home
By Nikki Willhite
Selling our homes is one of the most stressful things that we
do, even if we want it. We call in the Realtors and they tell us that in order
to sell our home, we must make $15,000 worth of improvements and our neighbors
must do the same! Ever heard that before?
The person who sells your home wants to make the largest
commission possible. Naturally they want you to improve your home. If they can
sell it at a higher price, they will make a larger commission. I have nothing
against Realtors. They are doing their job. Everyone has his or her own agenda.
You must follow the one most advantageous to you. You do not want to spend money
fixing up your home that you will not get back at the close of the deal!
Present home excluded, our past homes always seemed to end up
surrounded by neglected houses and lawns used for parking old cars! The Realtor
who sold our last home told me that I was to go to all my neighbors, ask them to
clean up their properties, and if they didn't do it, I should! Right! (By the
way, we sold that particular home in a week). Neighborhood is important, but I
don't think there is much you can do about certain situations.
Concentrate on your own home, but don't waste your money on
expensive upgrades or additions. In most cases you will not get all your money
back when you sell your home. Since many people will put their homes on the
market after the holidays, here are some suggestions. These are the things you
can do for the least amount of money that will make the biggest difference in
the time required to sell your home and the price you get for it.
Curb Appeal- First impressions are extremely important. Enhance
the front of your home as your first priority. People are so busy these days.
They want a home in "turnkey" condition. In other words, they want to move in
and they just start living. That is what you want to convey with the first
impression of your home.
Overgrown landscaping makes any house look like it needs work.
It doesn't cost anything to pull it up if you cannot prune it into an attractive
shape. Be brutal! Your house is more attractive than that overgrown landscaping.
Take a good look at your front door. If it doesn't look good
when cleaned, paint it. If you have a screen make sure it is in good condition.
If it is not, just remove it and hang a nice wreath on the door.
If you have potted plants in your yard, move them to the entry
to make it more attractive. If you have concrete that has turned dark, rent or
borrow a power cleaner and make it light again. Remove any grease stains from
Once inside your home the first thing people will notice is
light and smell. We become so use to the smells in our homes that we don't even
notice them. Sometimes they are not appealing to other people. Clean your home
thoroughly and air it out. If it still doesn't smell fresh, try a little
potpourri, or keep soup simmering on the stove.
If your home is dark, lighten it up. You will probably have to
paint all the walls white. If you have wallpaper, take it off before you paint.
It is going to hurt, but it's not going to cost you money!
If your drapes are old and unattractive, and privacy isn't an
issue, just take them down. You will have more light, and the room will look
Remove excessive accessories. Most people accumulate so many
things, the only way to accomplish this is to box them up and store them in a
friend or neighbor's garage or rent a storage locker. Small, stuffed closets
will turn away many a buyer. Keeping your personal items to a minimum helps the
new buyer visualize living in your home with their things. They are going to pay
a lot of money for your home. Help them do that!
Cleaning the carpets is always worth the expense. Rent a steam
cleaner or have it professionally done. Families with young children or babies
know how much time their children will spend playing on the carpet. Will they
want them playing on yours? This is one area where sometimes you do have to
outlay some money. Many a house sits on the market for 9 months until the owner
replaces the carpet. Most people just can't visualize how it will look if they
do it themselves, even with a carpet allowance.
Kitchens and Bathrooms almost always need new caulking. Grout
will need a heavy duty cleaner. The level of cleanliness in your bathroom will
need to be greater than normal. You are probably going to have to clean it every
day. Make it shine!
The Basement- The biggest mistake people make in basements is
putting up dark paneling. It just makes the room darker.
You have a few inexpensive options to make your basement look
better. You can cover the walls with light colored pictures or posters. You can
install better lights (preferably large fluorescent fixtures), or you can paint
the paneling white. Painting is the most effective, and can look very nice. A
lot of people are afraid to do it, but it has a nice cottage feel to it, and
brightens up the whole room.
The Garage - Don't store your clutter here! Clean, dust, sweep,
and paint the cement floor is you have to. Nothing dates a home more than a
cluttered, grease splattered, and water stained mess of a garage. This will
probably be your biggest challenge, but don't neglect it. With most people, a
few trips to the dump would probably be in order.