Wood floors are a hot item today, but preferences over the years have changed. Some buyers may prefer original hardwood floors, but there are many popular choices today. The final movement away from hardwood happened when installing hardwood floors became too expensive. Plywood was easier to obtain and faster to install. Plus choices in carpeting were plenty. It’s still relatively inexpensive to install carpeting.
If your home has hardwood floors, that’s what buyers want, and it would pay to have the carpeting removed and the floors refinished.
If your sub-floor is plywood, then replace the carpeting with light tan. Neutral carpeting is your best bet for resale.
Replace chipped or cracked tiles. Clean or replace the grout. But don’t install ceramic (it’s too expensive) unless it’s for aesthetic reasons in an entry way.
Painting ceilings & walls
Buyers spend more time than you would think staring at ceilings. They are looking for signs of a leaky roof, but what you don’t want them to see are stains from grease or smoke and ceiling cracks. Ditto for walls. Nothing says freshness like new paint, and it’s the most cost effective improvement. Use fiberglass tape on large cracks, cover with joint compound and sand. Paint a neutral color such as light tan – think of coffee with cream.
It’s not that all buyers hate wallpaper. They hate your wallpaper – because it’s your personal choice, not theirs. And they hate all dated wallpaper. Get rid of it. The easiest way is to steam it off by using an inexpensive wallpaper remover steamer.
Even if your wood paneling is not real wood but composite, you can paint it. Dated paneling must go. Older wood paneling such as walnut, mahogany, cedar and pine, it’s all gone out of style. Paint it a neutral and soft color after priming it.
Popcorn ceilings often are see in older homes, and may contain asbestos and cause health hazards. Time to remove it. It’s not expensive but it is time consuming to remove. Aside from being a safety concern, most buyers don’t want popcorn ceilings.
Appliances and cabinets are typically the most expensive items to replace in a kitchen. If you don’t have to replace them, you’ll save a ton of money. However, if your cabinets are dated and beat-up, your house might not sell if the cabinets aren’t replaced.
Before going the extreme route of renovations, try to improve rather than replace. Most buyers aren’t going to pay top dollar because you just put in a chef’s stove, travertine floors and a brand new glass refrigerator.
Resurfacing the cabinets is always the least expensive of all other options. Resurfacing includes adding a thin veneer to the surface of the cabinets. You will need to replace the hardware. However, if your cabinets are outdated, chances are the hardware was too.
Counter tops, sinks & faucets
Granite counters are not always necessary, but they definitely are appreciated; so are new faucets and brand new sinks. More importantly, make sure that those sinks are working properly, including the water pressure.
New floors, fixtures and lights really pay off when it comes to selling a house, as they are a top selling point for a buyer. Consider spending money in these rooms. However, just as you don’t want your house to be the nicest one on the block, you also don’t want one specific room to be the most expensive looking room in the house. If your budget is small, make minor improvements throughout the house, rather than putting your entire budget into a guest bedroom.
Exterior and roof
When a buyer looks at a house that they love, but the roof needs to be replaced, they may walk. Unless it happens to be a wealthy person who can afford to do it. Even then, they usually are only willing if it is a historic home. The average family won’t want to replace a roof on a starter home. You may want to bite the bullet on this one.
This may finally be the time to patch those cement cracks in sidewalks, plant flowers, caulk windows and doors, paint the fence, and replace door-knockers and locks.