5 Best Things to Do For Less Than $5,000 to Get Your Home Ready for Sale

said on May 11th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Want some more seller tips?

In my previous blog, I discussed 5 things to do for less than $1,000 to get your home ready for sale:  (1) professional cleaning and window washing, (2) getting a pest inspection, (3) renting a storage locker, (4) sprucing up the curb appeal, and (5) making the front door sparkle.

In this follow-up blog, I’m going to raise the ante and ask you to spend up to $5,000.  Will you get it back?  Almost certainly, but even more importantly, these five things will help your home sell faster and with fewer obstacles.

And just for you, at the end, I’m going to add three secret (shhh!) bonus tips.

Here we go:

1.     Paint 

Absolutely the best bang for your buck.  You don’t have to paint everything, but anything will benefit from fresh paint.  Maybe you can paint only the exterior, or maybe only the interior, or maybe just the kitchen, or the grubby kids’ bedrooms.  What I mean is that you should have these areas painted–by professional painters.  I hope I don’t hurt your feelings, and maybe I’m off base here, but you probably don’t have the skills to paint a room yourself–even if you think you do.  Professional painters have spent years perfecting their craft.  They know a lot of stuff.  I can walk into any house and tell if it has been professionally painted, or painted by someone with professional skills–or painted by amateurs.   Hire a pro to paint.

2.  Remove Wallpaper

Wallpaper is out of date in the current market.  There are some exceptions, of course–very, very expensive designer wallpaper–but even wallpaper of that quality is extremely specific, to a certain taste, love it or loathe it.  Most modern buyers do not like wallpaper in general, and if they do, they want to put their own paper on the wall.  Get rid of it if possible.

Here’s the rub.  Some wallpaper comes off easily, and some is a royal pain in the butt to remove.  Easily removed paper may be feasible for you to take down.  For the harder stuff, you need to hire a professional.  Once you get the paper off, your walls will look like, well, a total catastrophe.  You may need to re-texture the walls.  Then you have to sand.  Then you have to prime.  Then you have to paint.  Five steps:  peel, texture, sand, prime, paint.

Yes, it can be a lot of work, but there is a great up-side to this project.  Nothing makes a house look younger than freshly textured walls.  A facelift for the interior.

3.  Remove Popcorn Ceilings

If modern buyers dislike wallpaper, they really detest popcorn ceilings.  They’re also afraid of popcorn.  “Could be asbestos, you know.”  Well, probably not, but that’s what they’ve heard.  Popcorn ceilings are a total buyer turn-off.

How much does it cost to get rid of it?  Maybe not as much as you think.  It’s significantly cheaper if you move all of the furniture out of the room before the contractor arrives.  He (or she, I guess) comes into an empty room, throws down a plastic drop, scapes the popcorn off the ceiling, letting it fall on the floor, rolls up the plastic, and hauls it away.  Presto!  All gone.   Cost?  Between $1 and $2 per square foot in our area of the Sierra foothills.

Here’s the rub.  If you thought your walls looked like garbage when you first removed the wallpaper, wait til you see those popcorn-less naked ceilings.  Every nail and screw, every taped seam, every stain you thought you had painted over with Kilz.  Right there for all to see.  What to do?  That’s right, texture, sand, prime, and paint.

Here’s the upside.  The room is empty.  Throw down a new drop cloth.  Texture, sand, prime, paint quickly.  The contractor who removed the popcorn is probably good at re-texturing.  He (or she, I guess) may have included the re-texturing in his (or her) bid.  Be sure to ask.

4.  Replace grubby stained carpets

It is almost as cheap to replace carpets with laminate flooring as with rental-grade carpeting.  Think about that.  New vinyl flooring for old vinyl bathroom floors is also cheap. One of the worst decisions any homeowner every made was to put carpet in the bathroom, even in the vanity area of the bathroom.  It’s just wrong. Imagine how much moisture, mold, and mist o’ piss saturates that carpet.  Get rid of it, please, I beg you.

5.  Correct the wood destroying pest damage you discovered when you received the pest inspector’s report (see previous blog)

With great pride, confidence, and a higher price, you will be able to advertise that your home is pest free, and pest damage free.  This is money in the bank.



New Fixtures

Dress up your kitchen and bathroom cabinets with new drawer handles and knobs.  Replace scratched up faucets and other plumbing fixtres with shiny new ones.  Replace tacky lighting fixtures.  Folks, if you are planning to take Aunt Martha’s dining room chandelier with you, take it down and replace it before the first buyer ever walks through the door.

Crown Molding

Crown molding is surprisingly cheap if you know a carpenter who needs work and who knows the trick for measuring and making clean corners.  I know a guy who can install  crown molding in a standard bedroom in less than an hour –for $25 an hour.  The most time-consuming part is filling the nail holes, sanding, priming, and painting.  Total cost?  Including materials and painting, about $250 per bedroom.  My, oh, my does that crown look handsome!  Who should do the painting?  Altogether now . . . PROFESSIONAL PAINTERS!

High Wattage Light Bulbs

Spare me your sermon about wasting electricity.  After you sell your home, you can live in the dark for a month to make up, but while your home is on the market, put 100 watt bulbs everywhere, but especially in halls, foyers, closets and other places that tend to be a little dim and dreary.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!




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To find out more about real estate in the Golden Hills of the Sierras, just call Bob at (530-906-1023) or CJ at (530-9064715) or email us at bjc21@sbcglobal.net or cjc21@sbcglobal.net

  1. Cathy

    Excellent tips! Thank you! Bookmarking it.

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