How to Sell a Property on a Budget

If you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon, you’ve likely heard one phrase repeatedly: curb appeal. In other words, you have to make your well-loved, lived-in home catch the eye of potential buyers in the best possible way.

“Buyers are making decisions about your listing in the first seven seconds of arriving,” says Tiffany Szakal, agent and managing broker at The Local Element in Grand Rapids, MI.

But it usually takes a lot of elbow grease—not to mention a large check—to spruce up your house to sell.

So what’s a seller to do if they’re strapped for cash and can’t afford to replace the ’90s linoleum floor in the bathroom with fancy new tile? (Or maybe you don’t want to throw money at improvements you’ll never get to enjoy.)

Don’t sweat it. We gathered some cheap tricks from the pros that will make your home irresistible to homebuyers.

Paint the right rooms

Do you have a meager paint budget? Don’t worry, you don’t have to repaint the entire house in the latest trendy paint colors to impress homebuyers. But you should take a close look at the rooms homebuyers focus on the most.

“I think about bathrooms and kitchens,” says Wendy Gladson, a real estate consultant at Compass in Los Angeles. “It doesn’t take much paint because there are generally more cabinets than wall space.”

Painting the living room is always a good idea, too, just because it’s the first inside impression.

“Surprisingly, the garage door is something that should also be high on the priority list,” says Gladson. “In some cases, it makes up 40% of the front of the home. And a quick coat of fresh paint will go a long way toward brightening the home’s first impression.”

And while buying paint, get some for the front door, too. Pro tip: Yellow and cherry red attract buyers.

Get discounted staging advice

Whether it’s the paint colors or oddly arranged furniture, many homebuyers just can’t get past what’s in front of them and visualize how they’ll make their home instantly appealing.

Home staging helps eliminate the guesswork, but the whole shebang of staging services can get pricey. Luckily, many stagers offer a consultation or hourly fee.

“It’s a cheaper alternative to using all of their product, and sometimes something as simple as moving the sofa to a different position in the house makes a world of difference,” says Gladson.

Also, stage your closets and pantry

Staging isn’t just for furniture and artwork. Stage your closets, pantries, and cabinets to show their storage capacity. And since you can do this yourself, it will cost you nothing!

“An extra-full pantry and closet don’t allow a buyer to visualize the space, especially in dark rooms or areas,” says Martha Gaffney, a strategic real estate adviser at Real Estate Bees in Pelham, NY.

So remove half to one-third of the stuff in your closet, pantry, and cabinets. Homebuyers should be able to see most of the floor and the ceiling.

Restore dull and drab wood floors

Refinishing hardwood floors is pricey.

Yet you can easily breathe new life into old floors and even fill in scratches by mopping on a water-based polyurethane wood floor restorer to get back that rich, high-gloss finish of a newer floor.

And one application should last through all the foot traffic of your open houses.

DIY upholstery cleaning

Sure, there are other things you would rather do on a Saturday than lugging around a rented carpet and upholstery cleaner room to room. But it is a chore that pays off, especially when you have pets.

Homebuyers pick up pet smells as soon as they walk through the front door. But the sellers tend to be nose-blind and don’t realize how badly Fido is stinking up the home.

So invite your brutally honest friends over after you clean all the pet areas. If they still smell pet-related odors, find the culprit and deodorize it.

Let there be light

Natural light makes a home feel larger, cleaner, and more inviting. And if your home is lacking natural light, there’s an easy trick to let more light in instantly.

“Wash your windows and remove the screens as they filter light,” says Gladson. Install full-spectrum lightbulbs that mimic the midday sun for rooms lacking in natural light.

Renovate on the cheap

Consider second-hand stores when you want to make a few improvements but have limited funds.

“I highly recommend your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore,” says Szakal, of The Local Element.

“They have a ton of renovation items, including paint, cabinets, hardware, appliances, tile, etc., for affordable prices,” says Szakal. “And a big bonus is that your purchase helps contribute to affordable homeownership in your community.”

Don’t forget the yard, either. Grab some garden gloves and tools and tidy things up.



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