It’s time. The weather is excellent, the market is good, and you are finally ready to move into that dream home. What should you do to make sure your house sells as fast as possible for the best price possible?  You’ve watched plenty of Fixer Upper, and you think you’re a long-lost relative of Joanna, and you will get the maximum price by imitating her styling. You could spend ten’s of thousands on updating your home to the latest and greatest styling. However, often that route may not have the highest return on investment. And, who wants to completely update a home you’re not going to live in yourself? And who says your style is the perfect buyer’s style? 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few less costly options that will help you get the maximum return on your investment. 

1. Paint. It’s true; paint is everywhere in your home. Which makes using a good color scheme so useful when it comes to marketing your home. While it is true chartreuse is a pretty color, it’s better to go neutral, remember, you’re not painting for you at this point. When you go with a neutral color palette, it allows the touring buyers to see the potential in your home. You want buyers to see how the property fits them, not what they will immediately have to fix before they can move in. So, dump those bright pink kids rooms and go for the light side of the spectrum. You can’t go wrong with a light grey or beige. White trim also works well with either of those colors. Finally, look at the condition of the outside paint as well. Make sure you’ve repaired and covered any chipping paint, as many loan types will require external paint perfection. 

2. Curb Appeal. Fixing up the entrance to your home is an easy way to make buyers feel welcome. You’ll need to buy some flowers and a few bags of mulch to fix up the front of your home. It can be that simple. You’ll have to make sure to get any weeds, pulled, and cover the rest with mulch and a few pots of plants. If you have bushes make sure you trim them, and if its the dreaded dandelion season, those bad puppies have to go. Cut them out or pull them, and spray some preventative on them. Which brings me to my final point on this matter, make sure you have mowed before an open house, and that should take care of the outside. The good news with this column is the most significant expense is your time.

3. Clean, Clean, Clean. This category is yet another option that requires more time than money. You want your house to look staged for an open house every time a potential buyer comes through. You should clean the kitchens, bathrooms, vacuum (professional cleaning may be needed), and hide the laundry. While cleanliness may seem obvious, it is also critical. No one wants to see crumbs on the counter that make them think there could be pests hiding and feeding off of them. Also, decluttering is a great way to enhance the desirability of your home. Put away the kid’s toys, the massive DVD collection, and the counter cluttering bathroom products. Unfortunately, here comes the tough part. If you have pets, Houdini them out of your house. As much as possible make it look like they don’t exist. Ultimately you want your house to look as much like a show home as possible. That goal may not always be realistic, but if you do your best, then it will pay off in the end. 

4. The Expensive Stuff. If you insist on doing some of the more extensive renovations, then let’s focus on two areas. The kitchen and the master bathroom should be your top targets. Time and again these are the first areas people look at closely when viewing a house, and will offer the best opportunity for you to receive a good return on your investment. While you can do a total gut job and go the extra mile, you could also focus on a few of the most visible spots. One good option is to replace that pressboard countertop in the kitchen with a higher quality material. You don’t need to to go all the way up to quartz; you can stick with a laminate as long as it is an updated style. Tile is another inexpensive way to upgrade, make sure to seal the grout from bacteria before you call it a finished project. Cabinets are another huge way to increase the appeal of your home. While replacing the cabinets may be cost prohibitive, you can always strip and refinish them. That’s another easy weekend project you can do on your own. Bathrooms can be easy as well; if you have the room, the first step should be the addition of a double sink. If not, focus on making sure your tub/shower is in good condition, putting a new tub or shower surround is generally relatively inexpensive. 

5. Last but not least. Picking your Realtor. You will want to look for a Realtor you can trust. Someone that takes their responsibility to act in your best interest seriously. Check your friend network for a referral to an agent they’ve used before, or a person they know. If you can get an Agent through a reference that will give you an idea of the type of service they can offer. The actual qualities you want to look for varies based on your needs, but there are some fundamentals. For starters, get someone who knows how to, and wants to, market your property. They should be willing to take lots of pictures, and they should know how to take good pictures. There is nothing worse for a buyer than to open up a listing and see three outside pictures and one dim kitchen picture, and immediately wonder what is wrong with the property. They should be willing to hold open houses. You want as many people coming into your home as possible so you can get the market’s best price for your house. Make sure they have a robust support system and will get your home on all the different house hunting sites as well as the local listing system. Finally, make sure they are available to you. Get someone who will answer your calls, and who will be proactive about giving you the updates you need. 

Ultimately, these updates, tips, and tricks will all depend on your housing market, your home, and your needs. The best first step is to talk to a Real Estate Professional and get their thoughts on your home and market. 

(Shameless Plug… I will do all of this for you!)