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50 Ways to Increase the Appeal of Your Home Before You Sell

When it is time to sell, don’t underestimate the power of the small touches to make a big difference in the look and appeal of your home. It doesn’t require a full-kitchen remodel, or adding an entire second story to your ranch, for the lure to capture the next buyer’s attention. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

Here are 50 quick ways to increase the value and appeal of your home without breaking the bank:

1. Hire a handyman – We have a list of general contractors who are very reasonable.  Hiring a qualified contractor for a half or full day to take care of your “honey do” list will likely save you time, anguish and money – yes, unless you are a qualified do-it-yourselfer, it will probably be cheaper to hire someone to do the work than it will for you to buy the materials, tools, and supplies to do the job. Plus, you will have that time available to work on other more important things, like finding your new home, doing your one thing, or simply living your best life! Remember the division of labor?

2. Declutter your home – Pre-pack your out-of-season and not currently needed items. Label the box with the room they came out of, the contents and the room they are going to if you know. De-cluttering your home will make it look bigger, force you to clean into the corners, and help your potential buyers see the full space and see past your stuff.

3. Donate your unneeded items Here are a few excellent places to donate your unwanted items. Ann Arbor Recycle Center, Salvation Army, the Kiwanis Center (Ann Arbor), and Purple Heart (Westland). Make a list of what you are donating and get a receipt when the items are dropped off or picked up for your taxes. 

4. Have a garage sale If you want or need every penny from your cast-off stuff, a garage sale is the way to go. Hold your sale at the customary time for your city/neighborhood. Watch the paper for a week or two and you will know. Get ready in stages. As you declutter a room, move stuff to the garage sale staging area. Tag each item with masking tape, or dots. Advertise your sale in the newspaper the day before and the day of the sale. Newspapers offer excellent pricing and can help you with your ads. Don’t put your phone number in the ad! Run your sale from 8 am to 1 pm. You may want to have a pre-sale the night before to get the after-work traffic, but if you sign well and advertise in the paper, you will have more than enough traffic. Get a friend who likes to bargain to help with the sale. Let them handle the hagglers and give them free reign to negotiate price. Don’t price things too high. Remember the goal is to clean out and get this done! Not get rich. You will be surprised how much money you can make. Signs. Have a sign at all entrances to your sub, and try to sign with an arrow at each turn. More signs = more business. 

5. Refresh worn paint – A fresh coat of paint makes a big difference! It is easier to paint over a wall or door with the same color. A light coat goes on quickly and will refresh the look of doors and halls. Start with areas that get high wear and traffic or look worn.

6. Neutralize rooms that are highly stylized – Especially bedrooms and kitchens. You may need a primer coat to cover dark colors and stenciled on paint. Remove or paint over highly stylized or dated wallpaper. Remove posters and decals on doors and in the kids’ rooms. Simplify the décor. You want your buyer to be able to see their kids in these rooms.

7. Reduce or remove family photo collections – These can be distracting. Remember you want them looking at the house; not trying to figure out where you went to high school!

8. Clean or replace the carpet – If you can get away with steam cleaning the carpet, that is great, if it is worn or torn, replace it. This will make a huge difference in the appeal of your home and usually pays for itself. For cleaning, either rent a steam cleaner from a hardware or grocery store or call a professional such as Coaches Catastrophe Care (in Ann Arbor). Ask me about contractor’s pricing on carpet and flooring.

9. Remove excess furniture –  This might be the time to give away or sell a few pieces of furniture. Your furniture just wont look or fit the same in your new house as it did in the old one anyway! If it is worn out, give it away or sell it. The goal is to lighten up the look of the rooms and make the traffic areas clear. Less is definitely more when showing your house. As owners, many times we have too much furniture in a room. This is wonderful for our own personal enjoyment, but when it comes to selling, we need to thin out as much as possible to make rooms appear larger. Create a spacious feeling.

10. Make a great first impression – Make sure the front door is clean and operating perfectly. Repair and clean screens, oil hinges, replace the door handle and lock if it is tarnished or doesn’’t work smoothly, make sure the doorbell works. Often times the porch lights are in terrible condition.  Decent ight fixtures are not expensive these days, replace them if they are pitted, broken, or out of style.  Higher quality fixtures can simply be cleaned and will look great again.  Remember, first impressions are everything – this is definitely the first of the firsts!

11. Clean your front porch and sidewalk –  Remember to look up! Get all those cobwebs up on the ceiling. Use a hose attachment and clean the siding and concrete on the porch. You may want to power wash the siding but be careful, if not done correctly, you can etch the siding. Good item to put on your contractor list.

12. Keep kitchen counters clean and clear – Take everything off of your kitchen and bath counters. Clean them thoroughly. Then put back just a few things. Suggest the functionality and enjoyment of cooking in the kitchen, in the bathroom use candles, and colorful or fancy soaps to suggest serenity or romance.

13. Clean and adjust all kitchen and bath doors and drawers – Make sure all doors and drawers are aligned and operating properly. Make sure all handles are tightened. Use the correct cleaners for our cabinet surfaces and clean them inside and out. High use cabinets will need extra attention.

14. Hire a qualified stager –  Bring in a pro for a 1 or two-hour consult on furniture placement, accessorization and to check on all the details that are going to wow your client.  A good stager will have a very high level of attention to detail and will give you honest feedback that your friends and family may spare you. It could make the difference between really wowing your prospective buyer or your home just settling in the middle of the mix.

15. Replace the towels in the bath –  Get a large and contrasting smaller towels and washcloths. Fill the towel bars, and put a stack of towels nicely folded next to the bath. Fresh towels suggest luxury, relaxation and help your buyer begin to picture themselves enjoying your home.

16. Clean the grout and caulk the tub and shower –  Yes, this is a pain and yes, this is absolutely critical! Nothing is more important than a perfectly clean, gleaming bathroom. Absolutely no mold or mildew, no gaps in the caulk. There are tile cleaning and whitening products available at home stores that will do wonders for you. If this is something that is never going to make it to the top of your to-do list, then hire it out. It will make a difference. Remove rust stains if you are on a well. Replace tarnished faucets, towel bars, etc. Bathrooms need to sparkle!

17. Replace the shower curtain –  Coordinate with the towels. These are inexpensive and will make your bath seem cleaner and fresher. Simple, cheap, do it!

18. Touch up scrapped and worn wood cabinets – Use Old English scratch cover on scratched hardwood cabinets, doors, etc. This will drastically improve the condition of your woodwork.

19. Follow your nose –  A home should smell good. That means no noticeable odor — no pet scent, no stale cooking smells, and no cigarette smoke. People who smoke or have pets become so accustomed to the smell, they don’t notice it. Have a friend whose judgment — and nose — you trust to give your home the real sniff test. Get rid of scent problems at the source: scrub the house, have the air vents cleaned, replace old, smelly carpeting and smoke outside.

20. Avoid eccentric decor – De-personalize your teenager’s room, the game room or other areas by removing wild posters or any decorative item that could be construed as offensive. Remove decorations which might not appeal to the masses, from hanging beads in doorways to jars where your children store their spider collections.

21. Fertilize your lawn – It may take a while to see the benefits of this, but a healthy green lawn adds to curb appeal and curb appeal helps sell homes.

22. Plant flowers and mulch the flower beds – Buy potted plants or hanging baskets, or flats of annuals. Stick with a color theme.

23. Clean all glass light fixtures and make sure all the bulbs are working – Where possible add light. Add more lamps, or use larger wattage bulbs and make sure your bulbs match – similar wattage and color temperature (make sure to stay within the wattage limits of the lamp and your electrical circuit).

24. Clean all the windows and sills – This will make a difference in the amount of light that comes in the house plus it has a strong subconscious effect.

25. Put up simple blinds and window “topper” treatments and then match with coordinating bedspreads and pillows Bare windows are boring. Simple blinds and fabric window treatments add texture and color to a bedroom. Window treatments create instant character. Tie in colors of bedspreads and toss pillows into top treatments.

26. Suggest Functionality – When you hold your open house, can people see how a room functions and picture themselves enjoying living in that room? Examples: If you have a nice back yard with lots of birds, layout binoculars and a bird book. In the kitchen, put a cookbook on a stand. In a family room perhaps a stack of games on a game table. Show how your family made the house a home.

27. Make sure sight lines offer a visual reward – Use pictures, real or artificial flower arrangements to offer visual interest along sight lines. Don’t over do it however, or it will seem like clutter.

28. Thin out books on a bookshelf –  If your bookshelves are full, pack up about half of the books and decorative items, then organize, clean the books to create an interesting and orderly presentation. Use 12 by 12 (smaller size) boxes for books. Anything bigger becomes too heavy. If your books are precious, wrap them individually with bubble wrap.

29. Thin out your clothes and closets – Pack away your seasonal clothes, give away things you haven’t worn. Show your closets as being ½ full. Painting a closet will make it seem bigger and cleaner! If you are painting it the same color, you don’t have to worry about “cutting 

in” and the job will go a lot faster.

30. Replace or repair any leaking faucets and toilets.

31. Replace the hardware on your kitchen cabinets – If your cabinets are plain or drab, nice hardware will give them extra life! The home centers have good selection or go to a specialty kitchen cabinet store.

32. Look UP – In the basement, vacuum the ceiling to get ALL the cobwebs, even the ones between the joists above. If the light fixtures are dirty and have dead bugs in them, take off the glass and clean them out. Perhaps replace cheap light fixtures with nicer dome glass fixtures. This can add a lot of perceived value for about $20 to $50 per room. The key rooms to address are the foyer, upstairs hall, and kitchen. Replace worn or stained ceiling tiles.

33. Clean the appliances – Water heaters, furnaces, laundry sinks. usually, get ignored in the cleaning routine. But they will get careful scrutiny by your buyers. Don’t give them anything to object too. Even if they are old, the perception will be that they are well cared for.

34. Add area rugs –  If a room is empty, or the house is vacant, area rugs can help make a room feel more homey and warm. It also pulls the eye down to the floor and helps people feel how the flow of the home will work.

35. Choose your focal point – Whether it’s a fireplace, TV, or piece of art. Arrange your furniture around the centerpiece. Try to stay away from putting sofas against walls. And try to place your furniture pieces close enough together so that you have a warm, intimate feeling as you and your family or guests are seated. Add pillows and throw blankets to accessorize.

36. Change out your doormat – Plop a new, colorful welcome mat in front of the door.

37. Clean, paint or polish your house numbers – Make sure your street numerals are polished and in place. Make sure they are readily visible from the street.

38. Remove any out-of-season decorations – Place a seasonal wreath or arrangement on your door.

39. Thoroughly clean all your appliances – Including the inside of your oven and microwave. Clean the wall and fan above your stove. Goes without saying!

40. Clean your fireplace – Clean, adjust and lubricate your fireplace doors. Soot will come off readily with soot remove and newspaper. Touch up fireplace door or interior with high temp fireplace paint if necessary. If your fireplace smells, have the chimney cleaned. Open the fireplace doors, place logs in the grate, and a basket of firewood on the hearth.

41. Trim the bushes and mulch the beds – Are your bushes overgrown? Trim or remove overgrown bushes. Especially if they are covering up front windows, reducing light into the house or just plain overgrown. Look at your landscaping critically. A good trim will really clean up your presentation. Add a layer of fresh mulch and don’t skimp. Edge the lawn too!

42. Manage Noise – If your house backs up to the highway or there is a lot of environmental noise, consider a small water garden. These have a small pump that circulates water to spills over rocks, and it makes a pleasant, relaxing sound. Place on a patio table.

43. Clean and seal your wood deck – Yet one more cleaning project that produces a big subconscious effect on your buyers and a payoff to you. Deck cleaners will remove the grey color from wood; sealing will make the deck look newer. Put it on the contractor list

44. Show people how you use your patio – Clean the grill, get a new cover for it! Clean the patio furniture, in season, throw a new colorful tablecloth on, have a tray with a stack of plastic tumblers and a pitcher sitting out, replace the chair cushions if they are worn, mildewed or heavily faded.

45. Clean your furnace and water heater – Dust these items down with a damp rag, remove cobwebs and replace the furnace filter. Make sure to put a bright light bulb in by this area. Your home inspection will uncover any problems and deferred maintenance/replacement of appliances, but clean is always better and suggests good maintenance to your buyers. Painting your concrete floor in a utility area will make a plain basement look clean! Too often basements are dark, dusty and dirty. Why not stand out in this area?

46. Hire a High School Kid – Hire a kid to do almost all of the items on this list that have the word clean in them! Not only will they appreciate the spending money, they will work for much less than a handyman or cleaning service. Make sure to supervise them. Be specific on what you want and how long they should take to accomplish the task. Don’t skimp on cleaning supplies and materials, you will get a better result!

47. Hire a cleaning service – If your home will be vacant, hire a cleaning service when you move out to give the place one more thorough cleaning top to bottom. Consider hiring a window washing service to do your windows. If your home will be vacant for an extended period of time, have the cleaning service come back regularly to make sure it is dusted and that any dead flies etc. in the window sills are vacuumed up!

48. Power wash your siding – If you live near a highway, on a dirt road, and even if you don’t, your siding gets dirty and dingy with time. Hire a company or rent a power washer and clean it up. This will do great things for curb appeal.

49. Follow the dress for success program. Declutter, Clean, Repair, Neutralize, Dynamize –  Use the video or the book as a guide to manage preparing your home for sale. Contact us for a loaner copy of the book or video.

50. Hire the Piper Partners Team and tap into our 18 years of experience in preparing homes for the market to maximize proceeds for our sellers. Contact us for a free pre-listing consultation and home valuation analysis.

Final Thought. Remember, your buyers will look at several homes with similar characteristics. The home that captures their emotions will likely be the one they buy.


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