How To Maximize Your Selling Price With Low-Cost Cosmetics

Your house is going on the market. Of course, you want to sell it for the most money in the least amount of time. But you don’t have a lot of time or money to invest in home improvements. Here are half a dozen quick fixes–things you can do in less than a day–that will add pizazz to your home and dollars to your bottom line.


  • Fix the fixtures

  • Get a facelift

  • Grab a paintbrush

  • Light up your life

  • Clean your closets

  • Step on it

Fix the fixtures Virtually every do-it-yourself advisor will tell you that sprucing up kitchens and bathrooms will give you the highest return on your investment. Whether you choose to make minor cosmetic improvements or spring for a full remodel, you will probably make back anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent of your money when you sell and you’ll boost your home’s value accordingly.

The easiest place to start with kitchens and baths is to replace faucets and other fixtures with updated versions. Rain showers in the bath are very popular. Look for brushed nickel or bronze showers and faucets. Add drawer pulls if you don’t have any, or replace outdated ones if you do. If you want to go a bit farther, consider replacing bathroom vanities and refacing kitchen cabinets for a whole new look.

Get a facelift Along with cabinets, kitchen appliances may need a facelift too, if they are outdated. New, energy-efficient appliances in your kitchen will almost always yield close to 100% return when you sell. Sparkling stainless steel is today’s preferred look. They have great visual appeal and also give the impression of energy savings. Shop online for bargains—they don’t all have to be the same brand. Or check retailers and big-box stores for floor samples or discontinued models to save money.

Grab a paintbrush No other decorating strategy gives you more bang for your buck than a fresh coat of paint. There are two ways to go with this. You can choose a cheery or unique hue that gives buyers that immediate “Wow” factor. Or you can go with a warm neutral that provides the buyer with a blank (but clean) slate. Whatever you do, stay away from stark white—it may be neutral, but it’s also cold and unfriendly.

Light up your life

Nothing like shining the light into a few dark corners to brighten up your outlook. Hang drop-down lights over a kitchen sink or island. Shop discount stores, thrift shops or online closeouts to find an interesting chandelier for the dining room. A small chandelier in the master bath is both unusual and elegant. If your budget won’t cover new fixtures, try upping the wattage of light bulbs in your existing fixtures to brighten the space.

Clean your closets Overstuffed closets are a huge turnoff to prospective buyers because they virtually scream “not enough storage space.” Maximize the spacious look by packing up half your clothes and linens. Then customize your closets and storage areas with prefabricated modular storage units, shelves, and rods that you can buy online or from any number of home improvement stores and other retailers.

Step on it What’s getting underfoot at your house? Clean carpeting is one detail that can quickly update your home and give it a fresher look. You can do it yourself, of course, with rented equipment and a little elbow grease. But even professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your carpet is neutral and in relatively good shape. If you have spots that are showing serious wear, cover them with inexpensive, strategically placed area rugs. Don’t bother replacing wall-to-wall carpeting right before you sell, unless yours is vintage orange shag, or something equally disgusting. Buyers generally prefer to choose their own carpeting.

Of course you’ll want to adapt these tips to your particular home and budget. Whether you choose to do one or all six, you will be generating more attention from prospective buyers and adding dollars to your bottom line when you sell.

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