When someone comes to look at your home, you have very little time to make a good first impression. It's said that, within the first minute of entering your home, most buyers may have already made a decision not to buy based on some things that seem trivial in the larger scheme of things. In this article, we'll look at five cheap fixes that will help you get them past that critical first minute and closer to buying your home. (For more on selling a home, read 7 Ways To Improve Your Home's Sell-ability.)
TUTORIAL: Buying A Home

Focus on the Approach
Potential buyers need to walk up to your house before they see the inside, so the outside needs to match the quality of the inside. Some low-cost steps to increase the curb appeal include:

  • Repainting the outside window trim
  • Repainting the front door
  • Straightening, cleaning and securing the eaves and downspouts
  • Clearing and maintaining the yard
  • Placing some plants along the walk up

With the exception of plants and paint, the costs of raising your home's curb appeal mostly involves time and sweat.

Combat any Odors
The smell upon entering a home is very important. You don't want your place to be remembered as "the smelly place" or "the cat house." Ideally, you want it to be odor free, if possible, or at least have a pleasant scent if odor free can't be achieved. Some steps to take are:

  • Cleaning everything from top to bottom
  • Getting rid of items that have trapped odors
  • Placing air fresheners or scented candles in areas where odors remain

Decluttering costs nothing, in theory, but it's vital if you're going to make your home attractive. Potential buyers want to fill it with their stuff, and that's hard to visualize with all your stuff in the way. Some cheap solutions include:

  • Buying storage bins for clothes, toys and so on
  • Installing shelving to clear floor space
  • Emptying medicine cabinets and sink surfaces and storing items in a box beneath the sink
  • Clearing the kitchen of rarely used appliances like blenders and toaster ovens
  • Taking the pictures off the wall
  • Throwing out some of the furniture you plan to get rid of in the move, sooner rather than later

Pay Attention to Details
Although a fully renovated entryway, kitchen or bathroom do usually pay off, there are lower cost ways to get by with what you have. These include:

  • Updating the light fixtures, switches and plugs
  • Replacing handles on cabinets, internal doors, closets, etc.
  • Doing small touch-ups where paint has peeled or chipped, flooring has worn or wear and tear is otherwise visible.

Copy the Pros
Perhaps the most valuable experience for anyone looking to sell their home is to go and visit showhomes in the area to see what professional designers are doing. You'll want to note:

  • The colors being used for paint. These will likely be neutral tones that are popular at the moment.
  • The furniture layout. This will give you an idea of the mix of furniture people will be expecting to see, and how you can lay it out to create the illusion of more space.
  • Design touches. Artfully placed plants and paintings make a difference. Note your own feelings in the showhome and try to source them to things you can create in your own home.

The Bottom Line
Although there is a science to presenting your home in the best light, it is not too difficult to pick it up. Try to see your place with fresh eyes or, failing that, ask a friend or family member to walk through with you; to bring problems you've grown used to back to the forefront. Remember, potential buyers are looking for a long-term home, so they are going to look at even the small details with a critical eye. If you can fix some of the cosmetic flaws before they see them, then your chances of selling fast - and at the price you want - will increase. (For things to avoid when selling your home, read The 5 Biggest Mistakes Home Sellers Make.)

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    5 Luxurious Ways to Boost Your Home's Resale Value

    Not all renovations are created equal. Here are five that are most likely to make a property appreciate (and be appreciated by househunters).
  2. Personal Finance

    Choosing An In-Home Safe: Features To Look For

    What to look for in a box to protect your irreplaceable belongings.
  3. Home & Auto

    Top 5 Home Renos For Your Money

    Here are five renovations that return most of your investment when it’s time to sell your home.
  4. Home & Auto

    The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in London

    Understand what makes London such a desirable place to live and why it is so expensive. Learn about the top five most expensive neighborhoods in London.
  5. Investing Basics

    Tiny House Movement: Making Market Opportunities

    The tiny house movement throws all assumptions about household budgeting and mortgage management out the window, and creates new market segments too.
  6. Retirement

    10 Ways to Retrofit Your House for a Senior

    A checklist of renovations a residence may need as you get older – or if you have an elderly person living with you.
  7. Retirement

    Retrofitting v. Moving: What's Better for Seniors?

    Should you spend money to make your home senior-friendly or to buy a new place? Personal needs and project size determine which makes more financial sense.
  8. Home & Auto

    The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

    Understand the layout of the greater Los Angeles area and what is driving up home values. Learn about the top eight most expensive places to live in LA.
  9. Personal Finance

    Should You Renovate or Move?

    Besides cost, what factors should you consider in deciding whether to remodel your home or move? This tutorial guides you through the steps.
  10. Home & Auto

    4 Home Upgrades That Don’t Pay

    Many remodeling projects sound good in theory, but don’t recoup their costs when it’s time to sell the house.
  1. Where does the term "always be closing" come from?

    The exact origin of the sales phrase "always be closing" is unknown, but it was newly popularized by its usage in the 1992 ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is a fiduciary deed and when is it useful?

    A fiduciary deed is used to transfer property rights in a sale when a fiduciary must act as an executor of the sale on behalf ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Do mortgage escrow accounts earn interest?

    A bank is not required to pay interest on any escrow accounts (also mortgage impound accounts) it holds for its customers. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the best ways to pay off my mortgage quickly?

    There are two main strategies for paying off a mortgage more quickly, which can be used alone or in tandem: making larger ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the pros and cons of a simple-interest mortgage?

    The basic disadvantage of a simple interest mortgage lies in the fact that unless the borrower conscientiously makes all ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is a waiver of subrogation clause better for a tenant or a landlord?

    A waiver of subrogation clause is good for both a tenant and a landlord. A waiver of subrogation is a two-way agreement in ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!