A study of homes compared the sales price and time of sale of homes that were staged. The staged homes sold for approximately 5% more than those that were not staged and sold within half the period experienced for the non-staged homes.

General Guidelines:

ELIMINATE CLUTTER! Removing knick-knacks and unnecessary pictures will make your home appear more spacious and attractive. Store or sell any furniture you don’t plan to take with you. Removing extra furniture makes the home appear larger and less cluttered. To help remove these items you can hold a garage sale, store unused items, or prepare to move before your home goes on the market.
Use neutral colors, finishes, and styles. The goal is to have your home be a blank canvas where potential buyers can imagine their belongings.

Clean or replace all carpets. This relatively inexpensive act makes your home show much more beautifully and has over 100% return on investment if it needs to be replaced.

Think about a home inspected before making large improvements if possible. For example, you do not want to have your newly installed floor having to be ripped up due to water damage being found below.

Remove or open curtains and blinds that block natural light. “Light and bright” homes are cheerful and sought after.

Remove personal items such as photos, postcards, and religious and political material. Otherwise, potential buyers’ will focus on who the seller is instead of the house.

Rooms should have one function. The combination office/exercise room/children’s playroom confuses buyers and makes the house feel short on space.

Kitchen:

Studies indicate that buyers consider the kitchen to be the most important area in the home. While a major kitchen remodels will not add more value than its cost, the minor aesthetic improvements suggested below will make your kitchen shine without costing you a great deal.

De-clutter the kitchen countertops by removing appliances.
Re-paint dark cabinets with light paint.
Install new knobs on kitchen cabinets.
Replace badly worn linoleum floors with a neutral-colored flooring.
Clean fans and vent hoods.

Bathrooms:

Replace old towels with clean and fluffy towels.
Place an air freshener in a discreet place.
Place all bodily care articles out of sight.
Remove toothbrushes, combs, and grooming supplies from the counter.
Clean all mirrors, counters, and toilets. Eliminate all soap scum, mildew stains from bath, sink, and toilets.
Keep all toilet seat lids closed.
Consider replacing old sink faucets or other plumbing fixtures with new fixtures (usually brushed nickel).

Bedrooms:

Organize closets to increase their perceived size. Store unused clothing.
Throw away unused hangers.
Avoid oversized beds in rooms that are too small or cluttered. Small rooms should have a twin bed and a nightstand, but no bureau.
Remove televisions.

Garage:

Keep the garage neat and uncluttered to show its true size.
Hang up gardening tools.
Clean oil stains.

Major vs. Minor Repairs:

Major repairs, such as adding a new wood deck, adding a room, or completely remodeling your house have under 100% return on investment. It usually takes years before the expense of these items is recouped, if ever. The major improvements that come closest to having 100% return on investment are remodeling kitchens, bathrooms and possibly the addition of a second bathroom or a third bedroom.

In contrast, minor repairs that improve the appearance of your home can be done with little expense and offer over 100% return on investment. These minor repairs should be undertaken before you sell your home, as you will typically get more money back for each dollar you spend on them.

Minor repairs include:

Replacing all light bulbs with the highest wattage allowed to bathe the house in light.
A fresh coat of exterior and interior paint.
Flowering plants bordering your entryway and by your doorway.
Trimming hedges.
Replacement or cleaning carpets

Repairs in Anticipation of the Property Inspector

A “clean” property inspection report increases a home’s desirability as many buyers, are too busy to focus on home improvement. The following repairs will be relatively cheap and result in a higher selling price:

Directing water away from the house’s foundation if you know you have a problem. The addition of drainage taking water from the downspout and directing it away from the foundation is good for resale and a good preventative measure. Flexible and cheap drain piping is available at Home Depot.
Repair all leaky sinks and toilets.
Properly strap the water heater with the straps now required.
Clean the leaves out of roof gutters; This is always mentioned in property inspection reports if it is not done.
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom.

Enhancing Curb Appeal

A buyer’s first impression of your home is the most powerful and lasting. If your home lacks “curb appeal,” potential buyers may continue driving past your home without even entering.

The following measures can improve your home’s curb appeal for a small investment of money and time, which will yield large returns. Any improvements done for resale should have over 100% return on investments. The following recommendations do give that return.

Landscaping:

Plant colorful flowers to spruce up the landscaping
Trim bushes away from the house and entryway. Consider removal of trees that block light.
De-clutter the yard. Store lawn equipment, children’s toys, and other outdoor items.
Have your lawn cut every week while your home is on the market.

Exterior Appearance:

Repaint the home’s exterior if the paint is over eight years old. Painting provides an excellent return on investment. My favorite color for resale is called “Whisper,” available at any Miller’s Paint Store.
Power-wash the exterior if the home was not recently painted.
Clean windows both inside and out to give your home a “light and bright” feeling.
Install new house numbers that are visible from the street.
Install new hardware such as the lock and knob on the front door, if they appear dated.
In the front of the house, put out a new welcome mat and a clay pot or wooden box filled with blooming flowers.

Landscaping, painting and the minor improvements mentioned above will improve the potential buyers’ first impression of your home and will have a great return on investment.