It took James Peterson only six days to sell his house for the full asking price. He did it, says Dallas-Fort Worth real estate agent Geoff Walsh, by making some strategic improvements that were key to getting the house sold. Walsh -- Peterson's neighbor as well as his agent -- advised him to upgrade the appliances and countertops in the kitchen, replace worn carpet and tile, and add some simple landscaping.
In Peterson's neighborhood, where comparable homes sell in the $400,000 range, the investment paid off in a quick and profitable sale.
How much money a homeowner should put into enhancing a property for sale is a thorny issue. You don't want to spend too much, because you're unlikely to get it back. But you also need to make upgrades that will help your property compete in a crowded market.
When determining how much to spend, consider price range, region, and what comparable homes for sale in the neighborhood are offering. "You can overdo it for the neighborhood, and your home is not going to command a higher price as a result of [the home improvements]," says Matthew Coates, a Phoenix, Arizona agent with West USA Realty Revelation.
Coates suggests spending around 1 to 2 percent of your home's value for home improvement costs. That means, for a $200,000 condo, a seller would spend between $2,000 to $4,000 on pre-sale upgrades.
Sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to start, so here are eight home improvement ideas that can help get your home ready for the market for a minimal amount of money: