Selling Your Home: Quick Fixes for Big Returns

quick fixes for home resaleSelling your home is stressful even during the best of times, but when the market is slow it sometimes seems like "Mission: Impossible." In order to sell your home for top dollar in a down market, you need to be proactive in making your home stand out from the huge inventory of listings that buyers have to choose from.

Thankfully, there are many small improvements that you can make to get a big return on your investment and help your home sell faster:

1. Make a grand entrance. Front doors need to be welcoming and in good repair or potential buyers will go back to the car without walking inside. If your door doesn't make a good first impression, replacing it is one of the best investments you can make. Not only will the new door attract buyers, it can add a 128 percent return on the investment when the house sells.

2. Wash the exterior. Exterior siding and shutters must be clean and mold free. But don't worry about the expense of renting a power washer or hiring someone to do it. Simply spray on liquid house wash (Mold Armor House Wash is under $10 and works great): Let it sit for 10 minutes, rinse with a garden hose and your siding is as good as new.

3. Dump the popcorn. Popcorn ceilings are not popular with buyers. Luckily, they are inexpensive to fix. First, empty the room or cover everything with plastic. Next, gather a ladder, a garden sprayer filled with water, a 4-inch scraper, a face mask, and goggles. Using the garden sprayer, wet an area as big as your arm's reach while standing on the ladder. Once the popcorn is wet, it comes off easily using the scraper. Be sure to wear the mask and goggles to protect yourself. Keep moving your ladder around the room, scraping the ceiling off in sections. After all the popcorn is gone, you may need to go back up and re-spackle or sand where the builder taped the ceiling. Finish with a fresh coat of flat paint. A word of caution: If your home was built between 1930 and 1985 there is a strong possibility that it may contain asbestos. Before proceeding, you should scrape 3 to 4 samples from around the room into separate resealable bags and send to a certified asbestos testing agency. If the results are negative, you can proceed without worry. If they are positive you will need an alternate method, such as covering it with something like Armstrong's ceiling systems or an extra layer of sheetrock.

4. Do easy upgrades in kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms are known as the rooms that sell the house. Don't make the mistake of taking on an expensive remodeling project in order to sell your home. In the kitchen you will get a better return on your investment if you simply upgrade the appliances and replace the countertops. Another easy fix is updating the hardware on the cabinets and drawers. In the bathroom, replace the large, landscape mirror with a smaller, framed mirror. Replace dated light fixtures, and re-grout the existing tile. The idea here it to refresh, rather than remodel these valuable rooms.

5. Paint in welcoming tones. Paint is an inexpensive fix for rooms that might be too bold for the average buyer. However, don't turn to white paint when trying to neutralize offensive colors. You want to have rich, beautiful color on your walls so that your home stands out from the rest. White walls just leave your home looking cold, bland and uninviting. Instead, neutralize with warm tan or taupe to broaden your home's appeal. Other good choices for paint are muted greens, soft golds or pale yellows. Use an eggshell or satin finish to make the walls easy to clean.

6. Look at your home through a camera lens. Photograph your home before putting it on the market. It is easier to see your home's flaws in the photos than in person. Today's buyers search the internet before ever calling a realty agent, and studies show that they only spend three seconds on a listing before they click to the next one. If there is more than one home for sale in a neighborhood, the one that photographs best will likely sell fastest.

Your home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make. Remember, once you put your home on the market it is no longer your home. It is a product that needs to be sold in the shortest time possible. By making these small improvements you are eliminating potential obstacles to selling your home, in addition to creating a property that is appealing to the broadest cross-section of buyers. Your efforts are sure to be rewarded with a quicker sale at a higher price.

Barbara Green is The Design Diva and owner of Sensibly Chic Interior Design. She creates one-of-a-kind interiors that reflect your taste, lifestyle and budget. Follow on Twitter @thedesigndiva.

Interested in more selling tips? AOL Real Estate has other great guides that might help:

More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.
Get property tax help from our experts.


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