Sell your home higher - 20 inexpensive and quick fix-ups that help

The 20 inexpensive and quick fix-ups below will earn you more money when selling your home.

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It doesn't pay to rush preparation when selling your home. Unless your house is always in show-home condition, take your time to do your best. To ensure your home sells at its best price you have to impress potential buyers. Most homes are lived-in and most of the time some serious prep is required and worth doing.

Sometimes when planning to sell homeowners don't have the extra cash required to invest in renovations. And sometimes large expenditures don't pay off. The bottom line is, you want to make as much return as possible when selling, and whether you have renovations planned or not, the list below detail things that will help, affordably.

Imagine if a buyer begins to make deductions in their head for each of the issues below and what can happen if they write an offer. With the list below you can limit items that might lead to lower offers.


And when you are done cleaning have someone else look for missed spots. One missed spot can make cleaning look rushed and look as though it's done rarely. Buyers will view a home more favourably when they imagine it's always kept clean.

Clean the hidden areas too. A buyer will look inside your pantry, under your sink, and in closets. so clean and tidy it up, closets too, and make them smell as fresh as possible. It also helps if these areas are streamlined and organized.

Purge and declutter

This applies to the inside of your home as well as the outside. Get rid of junk even if you're planning to take it with you. You want the contents to make the house look as good as possible. But if your home is packed full of possessions it can make your home look not just messy but also smaller.

Depersonalize your home so buyers can see it as theirs

In addition to cleaning and decluttering, you should consider depersonalizing your home. The goal when selling is to have a buyer fall in love with your house and picture themselves living there.

Neutralize the space by removing items such as family photos, souvenirs, religious symbols, diplomas and certificates, hobby supplies, and collections, including CDs and DVDs.

Yard care and presentation

Remember, the first impression and curb appeal piques a buyer’s interest. Even if a person isn’t an avid gardener they will appreciate the beauty of flowerbeds and shrubby. An untrimmed lawn is visually unappealing and so are weeds so make sure to mow often and get rid of any dandelions. Even in the winter, the yard needs to appear clean and tidy.

Shin up the exterior and especially the entrance.

Prepare for sellingPHOTO: GREG SCHIEDEMANN

And keep it shiny with cleaning every few days. Even in the winter, keep the sidewalk, front step, and surrounding area beautiful. Everyone knows how important the first impression is and as a Realtor, I've seen buyers' expressions change before even opening the door.

Clean the utility room

Put things in order, sweep the floor and shine up your all appliances. A dirty furnace and hot water heater have buyers questioning how old they are. Even an older furnace looks newer when it's not covered in dust. If your laundry room is combined with your furnace room, clean those appliances too, and clean and organize shelving, etc.

Replace all missing parts

If a baseboard corner is missing, replace it. The small stuff matters more than you think. When a buyer sees one problem, even a little one, they imagine there are more. A cracked vent or air return panel looks bad.

Make sure all lights and lightbulbs work.

Lightbulbs are inexpensive and they sure stand out when they're not working.

Make your house smell nice.

Air fresheners and diffusers are inexpensive and make a difference. Another good idea is to bake some cookies or muffins. Also, wash all of your walls well with a nice scented cleaner. Don't overdo it though or buyers might think you're covering something up. And don't try to mask issues such as moisture or pet urine. You'll have to remedy those.

Paint if needed

And touch-up. But only paint if you can do a good job. Bad painting and finishing can hurt more than it helps. A professional painter, if needed, is a good investment. Change the colour of weird rooms. Your daughter might like purple and orange stripes but a buyer will only think of the time and expense it will take to repaint.

Buyers will pay more for a house in move-in condition.

Paint and repair the fence.

Older treated lumber can start to grey and become visually unappealing. If a fence is ugly looking and leaning anywhere it can discourage an offer or it will be an item a buyer wants a price reduction on.

If you think you might be selling in the winter, get this job done when the weather is right.

Do a thorough perimeter walk around.

View it with a buyer's eyes. Walk your outside yard and fence line and clean it up. Line up your garbage bins. Cut grass behind your fence in the alley to make it look like you always do it. Most buyers often drive by homes they like that are for sale before viewing them. Make your property impressive outside too.

I've had buyers cancel the viewing of a particular house after driving by it. If a property looks terrible outside a buyer will assume the inside is similar.

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Make sure all doors and windows operate smoothly.

Usually, they just need adjusting but it's very important they open and close nicely. If there are any parts missing, replace them. Also in the cleaning details. get the crud and dirt out of the window tracks. Do a thorough job on this because it's so important.

Garage shining.

Most people think the garage doesn’t matter but I’ve seen organized and painted garages wow buyers and solidify a potential offer. Even if you're using your garage for decluttering storage, stack boxes and put larger items as out of the way as possible.

Replace old outdated or faded window coverings.

You don’t have to do the whole house or spend very much. The large hardware stores have some affordable window coverings. If you have terrible window coverings and can’t afford new ones, you might be better off removing them altogether.

If a blind is broken and somebody tries to open it, it can be the end of the showing as everyone tries to repair it. Now, instead of enjoying your home the potential buyer only remembers the broken blind.

Remove stains and discolorization from the ceiling

Maybe it’s only condensation that’s gathered around the exhaust fan but buyers will assume it’s a water leak and leaks can be deal-breakers.

Ghosting is a discolorization that you often see on the ceiling.  It occurs when soot and dust particles stick to the ceiling. Over time, these particles cause a permanent stain.  The clue is in the pattern – ghosting often appears in perfectly straight lines.

Why?  The lines correspond to the framing in the attic above.   Because the framing is a worse insulator than the surrounding fiberglass, a cold spot forms where the framing touches the ceiling. 

Ghosting might require repainting the ceiling.

Make sure all grading around your house slopes away from the home

If the ground tilts toward your house, add filler to those areas. The ground settles around the foundation and if the ground slopes toward your house water will flow in that direction. It will keep water away that could penetrate or damage your foundation. Any water accumulating and sitting by your foundation will gradually cause deterioration. And if this issue isn't remedied it will show up on a home inspection and a buyer might assume water has accumulated there.

Wash your windows inside and out

Every house gives a cleaner vibe when the windows shine. And when the photographer comes to take pictures everything will look brighter and cleaner.

Tidy above and below your line of sight

Corners, shelves, and light fixtures can collect dust bunnies and webs. You might not dust your house every week but while you are listed it is a good idea. Also, remove all bug traps and mouse traps as they're unappealing to potential buyers.

Beautify the Bathrooms

Everyone knows the difference a bathroom can make for a house hunter, so keeping yours orderly is imperative. Organize everything from your countertops (no one wants to see your makeup and toothbrushes) to your linen closet and medicine cabinets, so people can visualize what they’ll do with the space. Shine all the fixtures and remember to put the toilet seat down for showings.


After living in your home for a long time, it’s easy to overlook the things that can make or break an offer. Selling your home is about taking an objective look from a buyer’s point of view. Remove yourself and your memories from the equation, and imagine that you are seeing your home for the first time.

Don't be afraid to ask friends or family for their honest feedback. Do a mock showing for a friend or three and have your Realtor scan your house too. You'll be surprised at some little things you missed You’ll impress buyers who, in turn, will impress you with good offers.

Extra preparation will pay off.

Blake King Realtor
Data is supplied by Pillar 9™ MLS® System. Pillar 9™ is the owner of the copyright in its MLS®System. Data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate by Pillar 9™.
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