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Simple Updates You Should Do Before Your House Goes On the Market

by on Feb 22, 2017

Springtime is almost here, and that means the real estate market is about to pick back up in your area. Are you planning on putting your house on the market? Today I want to share the suggestions and tips I use to help my clients get their homes ready to put on the market.   

1. Paint your front door.

This is an easy way to make your house stand out right from the beginning. Don’t be afraid of color, but make sure the color fits within the context of your home’s exterior. A bright and cheery front door could be just the thing that helps someone remember your house. 

Of course, if you have a beautiful wood door, don’t paint it! Make it stand out by styling your front porch with a wreath or some potted plants.

Before you paint your front door, check out these tips from Domino Magazine.

2. Clean your tile grout.

Bright and clean grout can make an old floor, shower, or backsplash look new. 

Head over to our full tutorial to see the best ways to clean tile grout.

A grout pen can also make outdated tile look updated. The process can be a little tedious but the project is an easy one tackle for even novice DIYers.

John and Sherry from Young House Love give great tips on how to update grout with a grout pen. The before and after pictures are convincing!
Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market
Howard Boom with Intero Real Estate via

3. De-clutter your walls, furniture, and bookshelves.

Replace your gallery wall with one or two pieces of art. Remember, selling your home is not about a buyer seeing your pictures or your style. It’s about the buyer seeing your space. The space shown above is a small living room/dining room. The uncluttered walls and floor plan allow the buyer’s eyes to look beyond just the living room and see the open floor plan. Simple styling keeps the focus on selling points of a house, like those gorgeous wood floors.

If a buyer sees a wall full of pictures they will assume they will have to patch holes and repaint. Taking this project off of a buyer’s plate can move your home up to the top of their list.

4. Paint your living, dining, and kitchen spaces a cohesive neutral color.

If you’re putting your home on the market, it’s time to paint over your accent wall. Accent walls are stylish, but yours probably doesn’t suit your potential buyer’s style.

If your walls are already a neutral color, take the extra step of patching and touching up paint.

Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market


Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market


5. Update a few key light fixtures.

I have learned that most people are intimidated by installing new light fixtures. Fortunately, it actually doesn’t cost much to have an electrician come and install some in strategic places. 

To get the most bang for your buck (without a complete lighting overhaul), choose to update fixtures in either the kitchen, dining area, bathrooms, or main living area. These updates don’t have to be expensive. Here are some ideas:




January and February tend to be the months when home improvement stores start to clear their inventory for spring. You can often score great deals on clearance racks at the end of the aisles.


Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market

6. Move furniture around to show off space.

Last spring I got a phone call from a realtor asking me to come help one of her clients. Their house had been on the market for a while, with no offers. The feedback they were getting from buyers was that the living room was too small.

So I jumped online to see the photos, and saw the problem immediately! They needed to rearrange their furniture to show off the space. I came over and after 30 minutes and some help from furniture movers, we had swapped out the big furniture pieces with smaller ones from the basement. The owner didn’t even have time to miss his reading chair by the fireplace because the house sold shortly after.

Back up and take your pictures from another room to make the space look bigger.

7. Minimize storage items and storage furniture.

The more baskets you have, the more your home looks likes it lacks storage. A few baskets here and there can store necessities or a few toys, but if you have too many you will create a narrative that your home lacks concealed storage space. 

A buyer will especially notice storage problems in a kitchen. Clear excess storage items from your counters and the top of your fridge. If the top of your fridge has become overflow space for your pantry, make room in your cabinets to allow more space.

Good House Keeping has great tips for de-cluttering your home and eliminating unnecessary storage.

Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market

8. Replace kitchen countertops and cabinet hardware.

If you have a dated kitchen, replacing countertops can help you move the kitchen forward a little. Apart from the flooring, the kitchen above hadn’t been updated since the 1950s. The sellers didn’t have the budget or time to change the cabinets, so I suggested updating the yellow laminate countertops and modernizing the hardware. We chose a laminate countertop color that went well with the existing cabinets, yet would look good if the buyer ever wanted to paint the cabinets. This house had a contract in less than two weeks despite having a dated kitchen. Updating the light fixtures helped too.

Most buyers have the energy to do one or two things to outdated kitchens. If you minimize the number of things needed to be done, you have moved your house forward for a buyer.

9. Match your kitchen appliances.

If you have one or two appliances left to achieve the same finish in kitchen, the investment to match them will pay off. This can be done on the cheap by checking Craigslist, home improvement store clearance aisles, and used appliance stores.

Most home buyers are not concerned with appliances matching brands unless you’re dealing with a high-end, custom built home.

10.  Clear out and organize your closet.

Pack away clothes you don’t wear or don’t need. This creates space in your closets! Closets that aren’t crammed with things look (surprise!) bigger. You can use storage closets and guest bedroom closets to neatly store the boxes of things you have packed away, but take the time to style the master bedroom and other in-use bedroom closets. These are the closets buyers will use daily and therefore, they’ll look at them with a more critical eye.

Abby from Just a Girls and Her Blog has great tips for making a closet usable and spacious.

11. Professionally clean your carpets.

If your carpets have stains, hire a carpet cleaner to get them out. You can also rent a carpet steamer at your local tool rental store.

Having your carpets professionally cleaned can give your flooring new life and also help with pet odors.

12. Clean and polish wood floors.

Hardwood floors are a selling point, so you’ll really want to take the time to make your hardwood floors stand out. Young House Love has a really great step by step guide to clean and polish old hardwood floors.

If your floors are beat up and scratched, hire someone to professionally buff them. This is much less expensive than sanding and refinishing them.

13. Tie off unfinished business with water leaks.

People are really scared of leaks or water issues. If you have already fixed the underlying problem, make sure you fix the damage too! If people see water spots they will assume there are ongoing issues, even if you assure them the problem has been addressed.

If you have a water issue, always fix the problem instead of ignoring it. Water issues, in my experience, are one of the top reasons people walk away from buying a home they might otherwise love.

14. Get estimates on problem areas.

If you know of problem areas that you just don’t have the money to fix, then have a contractor give you an estimate for fixing the problem. It is always good to arm yourself with information when you go into the negotiation stage.

Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market

15. Take great pictures from many angles.

The reality of an online real estate market is most buyers are making decisions on houses before they even get to a real estate agent. Twenty years ago a buyer only went into homes agents recommended. Today, buyers are heavily involved in finding homes for agents to show them. Don’t underestimate the power of great real estate pictures. HGTV gives great tips for taking real estate photos. If you are not good at picture-taking or photo editing, it usually only costs $100-$150 to have professional pictures taken of your home.

Most real estate agents will pay for professional photos. Before your spend your own money, look to hire a real estate agent that will offer this service.
Simple Updates You Should Do Before your House Goes On the Market
Pin It: Get Your House Ready To Sell


You have a great house, so help it stand out so others will love it just as much as you do!


Are you thinking about renting instead of owning? Check out these ways to make a rental feel like home.

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