You're ready to move on. Literally. You've got your new place all picked out, you're already scoping out the best restaurants in your new neighborhood. There's just one thing stopping you: that old mess of a house you need to sell. The last thing you want to do is spend too much money and time fixing up the place you’re ditching, but a little extra cash now can make a big difference in your closing price — and how long the listing is on the market. Not to worry: We got the skinny on what's worth updating from Elizabeth Dodson, co-founder of HomeZada, a digital hub for your home improvement projects. Here's what your home needs before you two can make a clean break of it.
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The cheapest thing you can do? Break out that bleach, according to Dodson. Get those windows sparkling and clean your carpets — which is, ahem, also good to do from a health perspective — and then really use that elbow grease and scrub your grout. “Most people don’t think to do that,” she says. And be sure to get to the kitchen, which Dodson says is one of the rooms potential buyers are most interested in.
Call in an expert
If someone comes to look at your house, it’s going to be a little embarrassing for everyone involved if they try to turn the lights on and nothing happens. Testing out HVAC systems is also important, and get rid of exposed wires and check for plumbing leaks. “You can hire those out if you don’t have the experience in actually checking and fixing all that,” says Dodson.
Hello, shiny brass knobs
“Adding a little bling — like a woman getting dressed up — actually can go a long way,” Dodson explains. She recommends swapping out the knobs on cabinets and drawers to add a little pizzazz, which updates your kitchen without the price of going through a complete remodel. If you think you can handle a little more expenditure, try also swapping out faucets.
If you can take the knob idea one step further, replacing cabinets is also not as expensive as a complete remodel. Stores such as Home Depot offer free in-home consultation to help you understand what’s involved. Too expensive? “Instead of changing out the full cabinet, you can just reface the front of your cabinet,” Dodson says. She recommends taking off the doors and painting them, or leaving them off to create more of an open look, possibly with some wallpaper lined inside. “It helps people have a fresh look,” she says.
Update your dishwasher
Dodson recommends trying to coordinate your appliances so they look good together, but don’t go overboard: “Be careful not to overspend on appliances, because if you are getting ready to sell a house, the really expensive appliances are not going to pay themselves back effectively.” Maybe don’t buy a new top of the line fridge, but try to take into consideration whether the various appliances in your house create a sense of symmetry.