Between cleaning up your credit score and saving money for a down payment, you already know that buying a home is an expensive endeavor. But on the flip side, you probably weren’t aware of how much it costs to sell a home either. Surprise — normally, homeowners expect to spend about $10,000 on home renovations. Yikes! Can you afford that? Think about what makes a house appealing to a potential buyer, and now look at your home. Do you think people will be breaking down the door to have a tour the way it looks now?
There’s no shame if the answer is no. Your house is not just a house; you actually live there. It’s not meant to look picture-perfect all the time — just when you’re selling it. To get top dollar while selling your home without breaking the bank follow our suggestions for the best frugal ways to prepare your house for sale.
Tidy the Space
As obvious as this might seem, not everyone understands how vital a clean, clean house is for potential buyers. If you were to walk into a house that was not just dirty, but full of clutter, would you be super keen on looking at it? You never want your home cleaner than when the Queen is visiting — or, more likely, than when you’re having a home tour.
Use all five of your senses when you’re looking at your house from a buyer’s perspective. What do you notice that is offending anyone of those senses?
- Look around and take in what you see. Is it clean? Are the pathways clear, and do you have clutter hidden out of sight? Are there any stains or unsightly spills that you should probably clean up first?
- What does it smell like inside your home? If you are a smoker, then the smell of cigarette smoke is offensive to most people — so much so that some people feel like they can taste it. Consider hiring a smoke clean up crew to get rid of the smell. Although this can be costly, the return on investment makes the price worth it in the end. Consider lighting scented candles before leaving as well to mask the smell.
- Does it feel comfortable in the home? Do you have the heat or AC blowing, or open windows for fresh air?
- Listen carefully. Do you hear anything amiss? Are there any crackling or banging sounds, signs that something might not be working properly?
Now that you’ve identified with all your senses what needs to be done with your home, it’s time to get to work. Roll up your sleeves and get busy — there’s work to be done.
Depersonalize Shelves and Walls
When putting a house on the market, depersonalizing and making it as bland as possible is one of the first things you need to do. Potential buyers want to envision their own pictures on those walls, their furniture in the house. If the home looks like you just left for an afternoon to do shopping, buyers might be put off by all of your stuff. Remove family photos, knickknacks, and anything that might be considered offensive. You might love your signed HempFest 2000 poster, but your future homebuyers might not find it as appealing.
Clean, Clean, Clean
A clean, inviting space makes a property feel like home to homebuyers. Go through and deep clean the home from top to bottom. You might not think that anyone is looking at those dusty baseboards or gunky faucets, but rest assured: Everybody is.
Vacuuming and dusting make a tremendous difference in a home. Start from the top and work your way down; using a microfiber duster like a Swiffer, start at your highest cabinets and shelves, then work downwards. Once you’ve completed dusting, sweep or vacuum the floors. Mop any hard floors and buff them to a shine with floor polish
Ensure that your kitchen is tidy. Homebuyers love kitchens, so cast yours in the best light that you can:
- Scrub down all surfaces — including cabinet doors — with a material-friendly all-purpose cleaner, and don’t forget to spritz countertops with a bleach solution.
- A cheap and highly effective sink cleanser is pure and simple baking soda. Sprinkle an even layer over your sink and, with a damp cloth, scrub out the inside as well as your faucet. Use your sink hose to spray off the baking soda; you may have to buff several more times to get the residual powder off. Sanitize with a bleach solution.
- Get your stove free of any burned, stuck-on food. Remove your stove burners and bust out your baking soda again. Sprinkle an even layer of baking soda over your stovetop, then, with a spray bottle full of vinegar, spritz the stovetop until the baking soda begins to bubble. Scrub with a damp cloth, using an old toothbrush to get the hard-to-reach places, and keep using the vinegar to remove the residual baking soda. Buff with a dry cloth.
Finally, and perhaps more important than your kitchen: The bathrooms. How many times have you gone into someone’s house and saw what a deplorable state the bathroom was in? Don’t let your house be remembered as the one with the nasty bathroom. Clean the toilets, sinks, and showers with a heavy-duty bathroom cleaner like Ajax or Comet, and don’t be shy about using bleach to kill any gross bacteria left behind. Ensure that sinks are sparkling, that hand towels are clean and dry, and floors and baseboards are swept and dusted.
Ensure That the HVAC Unit Is Working Properly
No matter what time of the year it is, a home with an improperly functioning HVAC unit is going to be a tough sell. Before listing your home for sale, contact your favorite HVAC services to inspect the system. They will do things like warning signs of a malfunctioning unit, make small cooling and heating repairs as needed, and clean and service the system for you.
If you feel like your home’s temperature is difficult to maintain even after a full HVAC service, look to your insulation. Check the attic or upstairs crawlspace to see what your insulation situation is like — don’t be surprised to find that a raccoon or another pest has made its home up there if it’s been a minute since you checked. It could be time to reinsulate, and if that’s the case then you should contact your favorite contractor to give you a quote.
Have the Roof Inspected
Now that autumn is in full swing and winter is right on its heels, it’s time to take a serious look at the roof. If a potential buyer asked you what kind of condition the roof is in, would you even know the answer?
If the answer is no, then it’s high time you look for roofing services in your area. You know the drill when it comes to looking for contractors: Find a roofer who is state-licensed, has a portfolio of well-completed projects, and happy past customers willing to testify on their behalf. This person or people should be knowledgeable, understand the industry, and be able to give you a fair and honest quote after looking at your roof. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What is the age of the roof? The home?
- What kind of material is the roofing made of?
- Do you notice any leaks, dark spots in the ceilings, strange odors (rot, etc), or anything like that?
Although any realtor worth their salt will tell you that you buy a home for its bones, that doesn’t mean that an ugly yard won’t affect a potential buyer’s decision. First impressions are a bigger deal than you might have guessed. Imagine touring a house and pulling up to a hideous, overgrown yard that looks like something from a Wes Craven movie. Yard work might not be your favorite, but when it comes to selling your house on the cheap, rolling up your sleeves and getting into the thick of it yourself will save you a ton of money.
- Similar to vacuuming the carpet, mowing the lawn makes an instant difference in the state of the yard. Mow the overgrown grass and rake up any clippings, tossing them into the compost or yard waste bin.
- Leaves and branches all over the place make a yard look unkempt. Rake up any leaves into piles, placing them into the compost bin when you’re done. Pick up all sticks and branches that have blown around the yard and toss them into the bin as well, or make a burn pile.
- Cracked concrete might look good if you’re trying to give The Last House on the Left vibes, but when you’re selling your home, you want to portray welcoming vibes. Patch any cracks or pour fresh concrete, and make sure that you use your power washer to blast away any moss or dirt gathered between the cracks.
- If you live in a woodsy area, look for tree services that can help you eliminate any threatening branches or trees that could fall during a storm. You can certainly do this yourself, but note that it can be very dangerous and you should only DIY if you know what you’re doing.
Spice Up Your Listing
If you’re selling by owner or have hired a realtor, the truth is that online listings are the way of the world these days. Your home’s listing needs to catch the attention of homebuyers all over the world, not just in your community. When creating your home’s listing, consider ways to spice it up to make it stand out against the competition.
- For people who can’t physically tour a home, walk-through video services are a fantastic alternative. This gives people all over the chance to look through the house without actually touring it first, which will hopefully lead to a real in-person tour.
- Focus on the most recently renovated parts of the home. If you have new kitchen cabinets and bathroom floors, highlight those aspects in the listing. Sell the updated parts of the home first and foremost.
- One thing that people seem to forget in a home listing is honesty. Sure, you don’t want to list all the problems that have ever happened to the home, but don’t lie. If the well system needs to be serviced, don’t say that it’s had a full inspection and passed with flying colors. No insulation in the attic? Do NOT say that it’s fully insulated and good to go. Dishonesty might sell the house, but it’s also setting up the next homebuyer for failure — and putting you in a potentially dangerous legal position later on.
Stage the Home
Before the moving company comes to take all of your furniture away, stage your home to give it the most welcoming presence possible. You can hire a staging company to do this for you, but why spend money on something you can do for free? Some of our favorite staging tips include:
- Let the light shine in. Open all curtains and draperies to let the sunshine and natural light come through. Also, turn on all the lights and lamps in the home. Chase away all the shadows you see to give prospective buyers a good idea of what it looks like in the sunshine.
- Make rooms flow easier, which might require rearranging the furniture. Make it as easy to walk through the home as possible, allowing free space and an open concept. It doesn’t just feel better and airier — even a studio rental can be manipulated to look better! — but it also helps buyers to better see the layout of the space as a whole.
- Make sure it smells good inside. Does this sound weird? It shouldn’t. Humans have a strong association between odors are memories, so the more pleasant the home smells, the more pleasant the memory tied to the tour. Consider lighting gently scented candles like lavender and vanilla, or use an oil diffuser and sticks.
Whoever said selling a house is easy? The bottom line is that it’s hard and expensive to sell a house. When you have adequately prepared yourself and made all the positive changes that you can, it’s only a matter of time before the right buyer comes along. Make necessary repairs yourself to save a ton of money and to get the most bang for your buck that you can.