Posted By Alan Donald @ Oct 27th 2009 3:41pm In: Sellers

Ten Affordable Home Upgrades

Curb AppealSince the market turned around in the last three years, buyers have become pickier and pickier. Today's "buyer's market" implies that we are in a de facto "beauty contest" combined with a price war.

Some homeowners believe they have to upgrade everything in their home before it can attract a buyer. While fixing all deferred maintenance issues is essential to achieve the maximum "market price" for your home, you don't necessarily need to spend tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades to get a buyer. Realtor Magazine published today a list of 10 affordable upgrades that you may consider:

  1. Make rooms gender neutral. If any of your rooms have a definite skew (either too feminine or too masculine, you may try to "tone down" the room by providing more "gender neutral" wall paper, coloring, furniture and decor.   A "man cave" decor may not appeal to a female buyer. A rosy, patterned wall paper may not appeal to a male buyer. The more neutral the feel, the more universally appealing it will show. Take the cue from new construction builders: Most of their model homes are very gender-neutral. 
  2. Use Neutral-Color, Environmentally Healthy Paints. Avoid very trendy or personalized strong colors. They may appeal only to a few buyers, and may turn off others completely. Remember that not every buyer has the ability to "picture" the rooms in a different colors. And use "no-VOC" or "low-VOC" paints, to avoid lingering odors and paint vapors.
  3. Camouflage Dated Paneling. In the 50's and 60s it was very trendy to cover the walls with brown wood paneling, which nowadays looks very dated. Instead of spending big bucks to remove it and replace it with sheetrock, try applying a couple of coats of primer and then painting white or a combo white/teal to look modern.
  4. Modernize the Kitchen. While a whole new kitchen may cost big bucks, there are a few ideas to modernize on the cheap: Change the countertops to solid surface or granite (granite tiles are much cheaper than a large slab); paint the walls off white; replace wrought iron or brass hardware with brushed nickel  or stainless steel; change the old fluorescent lamp for a modern-looking one, or replace it with track lighting; replace the old vinyl flooring with marmoleum (a modern linoleum made of recycled paper), cork, or high quality vinyl tiles. Place pendant lights over sit-in counter.
  5. Create a "Spa-Like" Master Bathroom. Replace flooring with travertine, or ceramic tile. Keep the palette neutral. Replace mirror with a "picture frame" mirror. Change faucets and shower head for modern-looking ones. Paint cabinets and replace hardware with brushed nickel or stainless steel. 
  6. Replace Dated Window Treatments. Remove old fashioned blinds and replace for appealing curtains/rods or plantation shutters.
  7. Improve Lighting. Poorly lit rooms can cause a gloomy effect on buyers, but this is easily fixed by installing new track lighting, recessed lighting or portable lamps.
  8. Update or Refurbish Flooring. Scratched or worn wooden flooring can be sanded and resurfaced, creating a "new home" look. Replace worn, stained or stretched carpets. 
  9. De-Clutter, Remove Personal Decorations and Replace with Inexpensive but Appealing Artwork. Some buyers cannot visualize themselves in a home if the seller has the walls and horizontal surfaces packed with family pictures, sports trophies or personal mementos. Replace them with modern and appealing, but inexpensive artwork. Remove any extra or large furniture pieces that make the rooms look smaller. Clean out your closets and garage (hire a PODS if you need extra room after doing a garage sale).   
  10. Improve Curb Appeal. It is surprising what a good power wash and thorough landscaping can do for the curb appeal of any home. Remove all spider webs and wasp nests from the doorway and porches. Paint any scraped or moldy surfaces. Plant nice flower beds and trim all bushes. Take good care of the lawn. Pressure wash the driveway and the siding. Remove any debris from the roof (and clean it with soft wash, if stained).  

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