Home Improvement Tips

Home Improvement Tips on How You Can Sell Your Home for More Money in Less Time on a Budget

Staging Tips:

If you follow these simple steps on staging your home, potential buyers will be
greeted with something worth living in.

  1. Clean and De-clutter: A neat and orderly home tells potential buyers,
    “this home is perfect for you.” The presence of personal effects such as
    ironing boards, pet food, etc. will make it harder to sell your home. If you
    can’t put away all your clutter, consider renting a small storage unit.
    Don’t be lazy. This is actually the most important tip I have for you.
    According the HomeGain.com survey, spending $402 on cleaning and
    de-cluttering your home will yield a benefit of $2,024 and is recommended by
    99% of real estate agents. This is your first $1,600 out of your $10,000
  2. Depersonalize: Unfortunately, you will need to put away your personal
    photos. The purpose of staging is to give prospective buyers a better
    environment to imagine themselves living in your home. Personal affects only
    detract from this.
  3. Furniture: Like the term “dress to impress,” show off your best
    furnishings in a similar way. Place furniture to highlight your home’s best
    architectural features.
  4. Wall art: To make your home more appealing to the potential buyers, add
    neutral wall art that targets your local demographic. You could also just
    take down the wall art only caters to your personal taste. Wall art doesn’t
    have to be expensive.
  5. Exterior staging:
    1. Adding a new and inviting front doormat is part of making the first
      impression a welcoming one.
    2. Adding potted plants can be used to detract attention from unsightly
      areas of your home.
    3. Consider buying a new set of patio furniture only if it’s on sale.
      You could also try Big Lots for buying patio furniture.

Remodeling & Repair Tips:

Almost every store has a clearance sale on select items. If you can’t find
anything good at one store, go to another. The best deals are usually located in
ugly industrial areas in little known areas off the beaten path. For light
repairs and remodeling, hire various tradesmen directly like plumbers,
electricians, window installers, etc. from reputable sources. However, if you
are considering a full remodel, hire a general contractor. Shopping around for a
general contractor can be a daunting task. Currently in this economy, a
wholesale grade contractor (“flipper grade”) can do a full remodel and
restructuring for as low at $25/SqFt or 9% of the sales price of your home,
which will provide a value add of about 7-17% based when comparing the sales
prices of unremodeled homes to remodeled homes. During the 2005 housing bubble,
the same remodel would cost $60/SqFt. While these contractors are hard to find
and are reluctant to work with homeowners on a one-off basis, the difference
between your lowest bid and your highest bid will be double. So, shop
aggressively for contractors. Once you have found prospective contractors,
lookup their license status online through your state’s contractor licensing
board before you interview them. Contractors rarely charge to give you an
estimate on remodeling your home.

  1.  Timing:
    1. Be sure to plan out which order you want to do your projects.
      Remodel one part of your home at time so that you can continue living
    2. You can get the best prices on seasonal items during end of the
      season clearance sales.
  2. Repair: Take care of the more difficult stuff first like deferred
    maintenance and repairs. New buyers don’t want a house that needs a lot of
    work. You will recoup about 4 times the cost of repairing electrical and
    plumbing per HomeGain.com.
  3. Painting:
    1. Paint the interior of the house
      with neutral colors. Wacky and tacky colors will scare away potential
    2. Painting the outside of your
      home dramatically increases its curb appeal without incurring too much
    3. In the Santa Ana real estate
      market, newly painted homes sell for about 5-7% more per MLS data.
  4. Exterior cleaning: For areas such as driveways, patios, fences, and tile
    roofs, hiring a professional to power wash these areas is an inexpensive way
    to improve your home’s marketability.
  5. Doors:
    1. Upgrade or paint the front
      door: Replacing the front door of your home may cost upwards of $1,200.
      You can get fiber glass door that looks like wood from Home Depot or
      Lowes for a little as $300 when on clearance sale. As long as you don’t
      spend too much money on great looking front door, the resale value will
      be about $1200-2000 per Remodeling Magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value
      Report. Remember, after updating your front door, remove and store the
      screen door so it won’t detract from the appearance of your front door.
      An alternative would be painting the front door in a classic color that
      ties with the rest of the exterior of your home.
    2. Replace door knobs, locks,
      plates, and hinges. (Currently, the brushed nickel finish is popular and
      it’s worth the extra cost.)
  6. Lighten and brighten: Lightening and brightening the house is a quick,
    cheap fix.

    1. Normally, light fixtures are
      limited to 60-75 watt bulbs due to safety reasons. You can brighten up
      your house dramatically with 17-25 watt CFL bulbs, which put out more
      light than 60 watt bulbs without having to invest in more light
    2. Upgrade your window treatments.
      The new faux woods are cheaper and better than real wood. Adjusting your
      blinds so that as much light comes in as possible will improve the
      marketability of your home.
  7. Windows: Replace old windows with the newer double-pane vinyl windows.
    Homes for sale in Garden Grove sold for 3-7% more with double-pane windows
    per MLS data.
  8. Fireplaces: Nowadays with modern heating, fireplaces do not improve the
    value a home. Most fireplaces are ugly and their appearance should be
    minimized. New stylish mantels for unaccented fireplaces usually cost more
    than $1,000 and are not worth it. Consider creative solutions such as
    painting the old brick surrounds with fireproof paint or tiling over it with
    nice looking 12-inch travertine floor tile.
  9. Cabinets: Resurfacing or painting old cabinets is the cheapest option.
    Reface them if necessary, and save as much as the original wood as possible.
  10. Countertops, sinks, and faucets: Granite countertops are not necessary,
    unless you can get a good price on them. You can get good looking Tier 2
    granite for a low as $300 per slab if you aggressively shop around. Replace
    faucets that leak or look old, and replace stained sinks if necessary.
  11. Kitchen Appliances: Replace appliances only if dated looking and over 10
    years old.
  12. Walls and Ceilings:
    1. Remove your wallpaper because
      you personal taste in wallpaper rarely appeals to prospective buyers.
    2. Paint dated wood paneling
      unless in good condition
    3. Scrape any popcorn ceilings
  13. Flooring:
    1. Hardwood flooring is a major
      asset. If it is damaged, consider refinishing it.
    2. If your carpets are in good
      condition, but are only dirty, then hire a professional to clean your
      carpets. You can find the best deals on carpeting cleaning from the PennySaver. Other sources to consider are AngiesList.com and
      CraigsList.com. Choose neutral carpeting to replace old or damaged carpet. In
      the Santa Ana real estate market, travertine tile is popular, and it’s a
      worthwhile replacement for carpet in main living areas.
    3. For replacing damaged carpet in
      bedrooms, consider wood laminate flooring. It’s cheap, easy to install,
      and it adds value to your home, whereas carpet does not.
    4. Where there is tile flooring,
      clean the grout and fix broken tiles or replace.
  14. Bathroom: Considering updating the look of your bathroom with a few
    simple tips.

    1. Replace fixtures with new
      faucets, towel bars, and toilet paper holders. Replacing old toilet
      seats goes without saying. Replace old chrome or white shower heads with
      the newer large metallic looking shower heads, which you can get for as
      little as $50.
    2. If you currently have a small
      vanity in bad shape, consider replacing it with an all-in-one vanity on
      clearance sale from a major hardware store or wholesale stores, like
      Costco or Sam’s Club. These vanities come with a white marble
      countertop, sink, and faucet fixture for as little as $350 on clearance
      sale. Installation labor should about be about $100-150.
    3. If the bathtub looks old, you
      can save money by reglazeing it rather than
      replacing it. Even if you do nothing to the bathtub, be sure to put new caulking
      along the bathtub.
    4. Mirrors: Instead of installing
      a fancy readymade mirror, consider installing a new flat mirror and then
      adding white or finished wood trim around it, which you can purchase
      from your local hardware store.
  15. Pool: Before the prevalence of central air conditioning, pools used to
    add significant value to a home. Now, pools increase the time your home sits
    on the market because some buyers simply don’t want a home with a pool to
    take care of. Never add a pool to sell your home. If you already have a
    pool, just make sure that it has any needed repairs.

Landscaping & Gardening Tips:

According to local MLS data, homes with recent or well maintained landscaping or
sell for about 4-9% more in the Santa Ana real estate market. If you’re trying
to decide whether to hire a gardener or landscaper to do your landscaping, hire
a gardener. While a gardener may not have the skill set that a landscapers has,
you will get the best value for your dollar by using a gardener who knows a
little but about landscaping.

  1. Timing: If you choose to plant new plants, remember that some plants
    take a lot longer to grow, which means you will not get any benefit for
    selling your home while the plants are still growing.
  2. The front: Focus your landscaping efforts on the front of the house
    rather than the back because this is what homebuyers notice the most.
  3. Simple maintenance: If you don’t already have a gardener, hire one, even
    if just for short time, to do simple maintenance such removing weeds,
    pruning overgrown plants, and fertilizing the lawn. To save money on
    gardening and water, choose low maintenance plants.
  4.  Lawn: Tend to your lawn maintenance first because it takes the
    longest time to improve. A lush green lawn sets the first impression of your
    home and it shows pride of ownership. If your lawn cannot be restored in a
    timely manner, consider replacing the lawn with newly laid down sod.
  5. Color: Add pots of colorful and attractive flowers to greet buyers.
    Flats of flowers like impatiens can be purchased very inexpensively at your
    local hardware store. The results are immediate.

    1. When planting new fruit trees,
      leave the labels on them because homebuyers often would like to know the
      names of your new plants.
    2. Avoid invasive plant species
      such as the purple loosestrife because they spread everywhere and take
      over your garden.
  6. Depersonalize: Remove personal effects around yard such as garden
    gnomes, ceramic ducks, plastic flamingos, etc. because while they may appeal
    to you, they probably won’t appeal to prospective buyers.
  7. Irrigation: Rather to worry about saving water and letting your lawn
    die, it’s time to optimize the programming of your irrigation timer. Check
    for leaks in your irrigation system. The cost from the water utility company
    of unattended to irrigation leak can exceed the initial cost of the
    irrigation system itself. Have irrigation leaks repaired promptly before you
    change your irrigation timings. If you don’t already have an irrigation
    system, for the short time of selling your home, it’s cheaper to hire a
    gardener to water your lawn and planters twice weekly than it is to invest
    in a new irrigation system.

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Leave a comment
  1. Eric Hodecker June 7, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Your website helped me. After trying unsuccessfully to sell my home, I was frustrated and at a loss as to what to do. It really didn’t make sense. It’s a nice home in a good neighborhood. When someone suggested I take a look at this website, I finally realized what I was doing wrong.

    I actually didn’t leave a budget to make improvements to my home. I didn’t feel that any large improvements would make that much of a difference, except costing me more than I would see once my house was sold. The tips that I found on this page made perfect sense, and all it took was a small amount of my time on my part.

    Right after I cleaned my house both inside and out and rearranged my furniture and a few plants here and there, I could feel that my house was much more appealing. Thank you!

  2. Michael Mwangi June 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    The information here is very valuable. I wish I’d come across this webpage before selling my house. I’m sure if I got the tips beforehand, I could have managed to get much more than what I got for my house. For those who will be lucky to come across these tips, they would definitely benefit from it. I’d definitely advise my friends about it. I hope also the person who wrote this article will give us more incredible tips such as these in the future.

  3. Njagi Mugambi June 10, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I like your tips. They are really going to help me in selling my home. I have lived in my home for a while and I was wondering how I can get the most from it. Currently my home is so personalized with family photos all over. I never thought removing them could be beneficial. Information on how to make the exterior of my home more attractive is also going to help me a great deal. My home does not have a lot of curb appeal but with your tips I’m sure it will be the best use of my budget. I am grateful that I found your website.

  4. M. Montano June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m lucky to have stumbled into this site. My mother-in-law is planning to sell her old house by next year, which has not been used for a long time. Needless to say, it would be a BIG cleaning job for me and my husband to do. It’s actually so old that you’ll mistaken it for a warehouse. It could really do better it were repainted. There’s just so much to fix and clean. I don’t know if we can finish it in 6 months or else we’ll have to hire someone to do it for us. I’d definitely take your advice on putting away my old stuff. As a buyer, I personally wouldn’t want to walk into a house with so much personal stuff in it. Just feels creepy or maybe it’s just me. LOL. Anyway, thanks for the excellent tips.

  5. Halvin June 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    You’ve done a great job talking about how important using landscape mulch in making an attractive garden. I like hardwood mulch. It smells, definitely, but it adds nutrients to your soil and looks nice.

  6. Askew Taabu July 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    I find this article quite informative since it sheds light on areas which other writers have often neglected. The most interesting bit was on landscaping and gardening. This article is rich in statistics which provide the reader with the right tips on how to maximize their home’s curb appeal. As a budget-conscious homemaker, the information here offers insights on how I can do more on shoe-string budget. Surely among other sites, I find the information provided here, valid, practical and workable.

  7. Rhino Shield October 11, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    Jenn Anderson
    Boston, MA

    I am having l nightmares over the Rhino Shield covering on my house, installed just over three years ago. Large bubbles are in the material that I can slit and hand peel the material, right down to the bare red cedar clapboards, which were also primed with an oil primer and finished with latex paint before the Rhino-Shield was applied. The material has a lifetime guarantee, so when I called several persons, including the owner Rhino Shield they all came over quickly.

    Rhino Shield said that the material was probably put on when the cedar was damp, and thus would strip everything and apply a new primer and finish coat, let dry, then apply new Rhino Shield, adding that there will be no more work till flashing is….

    Read more about my issue here

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