When you’re ready to sell your house, the last thing you want to do is put a bunch of time, effort, and money into improving it. After all, you’re moving on. Why invest in a house that you’re leaving?

Well, here’s why: putting some money in now may yield you a lot more when your potential buyers make an offer. The reason? Simple human nature. They want their new house to be shiny and perfect too! After all, most home buyers are pretty stretched for money after getting the down payment together (and stretched for time, what with the whole moving process).

When you realize that your competition is every other house that’s currently on the market, it’s easy to see why making your house appear move-in ready can help vault it to the top of the “must-buy” list as buyers contemplate their choices.

But there’s also the cost of making these upgrades. So, for Part 4 of our “How to Sell Your Home” blog series, here are 5 things you should fix before you put your home on the market (and 2 things you can ignore).

What you should fix

Dated light fixtures

Here’s a simple, budget-friendly fix that can modernize your home: ditch that track lighting or fluorescent box overhead and go with a more-modern look of pendants or globe lighting.
And while you’re at it, make sure every single light bulb and switch works. You might even want to up the wattage. You want your home to shine … literally.

Zero curb appeal

Even if the inside of your home is perfection, a buyer who’s turned off by the outside might not even make it to your doorstep. That’s why sprucing up the front is critical. Wallet-friendly steps to take include weeding and planting colorful flowers, repainting the front door to make it pop, and updating your outdoor lights and mailbox.

Wonky doors and windows

Do your doors or windows stick? That could be a hot button since most buyers are going to try them all out. If you have a broken living room window or bedroom doors that don’t work properly, a buyer could jump to the conclusion that you’ve deferred other maintenance in the home and give it a pass.

Gross carpet

Carpet showing its, ahem, age? While you might think you can get away with a good cleaning, you might be better off replacing that shag with hardwoods. Turns out that carpet is a total turnoff for many buyers and may cause them to look past your home’s potential.

Tacky paint colors

If you’re a “neutral paint is boring” person, we’ve got news for you: not everyone is charmed by a teal bedroom or orange dining room. Your house will show better if you go for neutral hues.

What to hold off on

The bottom line is you should fix whatever you can so that your home presents as perfectly as possible. But that doesn’t mean you have to do a total remodel. You can consider slacking in 2 areas.

Upgrades just to have upgrades

You might think you’re increasing the price of your house by adding the latest bells and whistles, like heated bathroom floors, a bar sink in the bonus room, or a fireplace in the master. But not everyone will value them so you might not recoup your investment.

Time-consuming fixes in a hot seller’s market

If you just don’t have time to repair a roof, you can knock the replacement value off the price and be upfront about it. But know that a buyer might be bummed out to have to fix it, which can show in their offer it’s hard to reimburse them for the hassle and inconvenience.

Make sure you read all our tips! Find out which 6 things might be ruining your home’s resale value, how to stage your home like a pro, and how a realtor chooses your home’s sale price.

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.