The Best Home Improvements & Repairs

Getting your house ready to sell takes time and effort. But which projects will attract more buyers, higher offers, and payoff the most? Let’s dig in.

It’s true that most homeowners will make at least one improvement or repair before putting their house up for sale.

But knowing which projects are the easiest and cheapest, and which ones you can do yourself, is important, especially in a high cost environment.

How to Choose the Right Projects

Unless something about your home really stands out to you as needing repair or replacement, it’s often a good idea for sellers to get a home inspection before putting it on the market (aka “pre-inspection”).

Getting an inspection before selling helps you identify items that need to be fixed or repaired. Also remember, these items are things that will likely be found by a buyer’s inspection later on. Taking care of any problems early will help save time and better ensure there are no hiccups during the sales process with buyers.

But there are tried and true areas that should get the attention of all home sellers. Below we’ve compiled the most popular and simple home improvement projects.

Follow these tips and you could greatly improve your chances of selling for the highest possible price and having a smooth closing!

Curb Appeal

Who can do this work?
DIY or service professional.

First impressions are everything in real estate. And the most effective way to impress buyers is by enhancing the front-facing part of your house and property.

It’s time to roll out the red carpet for your buyers!

Outside Appearance & Landscaping:

  • Keep the lawn freshly mowed and trimmed;
  • Add colorful flowers to your approach, porch or entrance;
  • Rake and remove leaves;
  • Remove weeds and overgrowth;
  • Trim or remove overgrown or dying/dead trees;
  • Clear snow and ice in the winter.

Power-Washing & Cleaning:

  • Driveways and walks,
  • Decks and patios;
  • Runoff areas;
  • Oil spots;
  • Areas with mold, mildew or moss.

Windows, Doors & Trim:

  • Clean and remove cobwebs;
  • Repaint cracked, peeling or worn trim and casings;
  • Fix broken or fogged glass;
  • Repair, replace or remove old or damaged screens.

Pro Tip: You can quiet squeaky doors by cleaning hinges and tracks (using compressed air works well), and then by applying teflon spray (WD-40 wears off too quickly). Also, replace burned out or broken exterior lights, making sure all light colors/temperatures match; Using warmer/softer and less harsh lights makes your house more inviting.

Interior Cleaning & Decluttering

Who can do this work?
DIY or service professional.

Tidy, less crowded and somewhat depersonalized spaces allow perspective buyers to envision themselves living there. Remember, rooms full of too much stuff will make your house feel small and short on storage.

Especially if you have pets, it’s a good idea to make absolutely certain that your house has no offensive or suspicious odors. If you’ve been living in your home for a long time, it may be helpful to recruit a neutral third-party to give you an honest assessment.

The good news is that most homeowners can tackle this type of improvement themselves even in their spare time.

Focus on these key areas:

  • Bathrooms should be spotless;
  • Kitchen should be clean and uncluttered;
  • Kids & Pets: stow away all toys into containers or bins;
  • Mechanical room: ensure it is brightly lit, and equipment appears clean;
  • Make space in the garage.

Pro Tip: Your goal should be to make your interior spaces appear as large and roomy as possible. Also, while there are some professional organizers available in our area, a cost effective way to declutter is to enlist a trusted friend or family member for help.

Critter Control

Who can do this work?
DIY and service professional.

We live in Northern Michigan, so problems with critters such as mice, chipmunks, raccoons and bats are common. While these regular visitors may be commonplace to locals, a critter in your garage or shed that appears cute or harmless to us could turn off some buyers from more urban areas.

  • Call a professional exterminator for chronic problems and infestations;
  • Remove all traps, sprays or poisons;
  • Fix holes and points of entry (check your eaves and base of garage and doors);
  • Clean up any signs of droppings.

Pro Tip: Remove or relocate bird feeders away from the house. The dropped seeds attract ground animals like mice, chipmunks and squirrels that can start to make homes inside your house.

Interior Painting

Who can do this work?
Experienced DIY or service professional.

One of the most popular and effective improvements sellers make is freshening up the interior walls and trim. If you have wallpaper that’s peeling, it may be a worthwhile option to remove it and paint the wall instead (if the wallpaper removes easily).

According to a Zillow Group report, about 35% of sellers paint their home’s interior before selling.

Pro Tip: Use glossier white finishes for trim; use neutral wall colors; fix or remove old or worn wallpaper in favor of paint.

Add Smart Home Tech

Who can do this work?
Experienced DIY or service professional.

Nearly 50% of younger generations (i.e., Millennials and Gen Z) rate smart home technology as a highly important feature when buying. While this may sound expensive, there are many cost effective upgrades to consider.

Smart thermostats, for example, are very popular and quite easy to install. And homes that feature smart lighting (automated, programmable or wifi-controlled dimming and on/off settings) have generally sold a week faster than other homes.

Pro Tip: When replacing old or broken light switches, buy new (smart) dimmers instead. But make sure they’re the right type of dimmer for the lights you have (incandescent or dimmable/non-dimmable LED).

Replace Garage Door

Who can do this work?
Service professional.

Whether damaged, partly functional or just worn out, garage doors are often an afterthought for many homeowners. But believe it or not, according to the 2022 Cost vs Value Report, replacing (and upgrading) your garage doors has a nearly 95% return on investment.

If that helps your house sell faster, and at a better price, it’s a win-win

Pro Tip: Be sure to add an exterior remote keypad entry to the garage door.

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