Smart tips to get the most money from your home sale

Woman painting a room in preparation for selling her home

Your home is full of memories. Perhaps it was the first place you and your spouse lived together. Maybe your children took their first steps in the living room, or the kitchen was host to dozens of Thanksgiving feasts.

And if you’re trying to sell your home, you’re trying to sell the idea that someone else could find a place for memories there, too.

We’ve all heard nightmare stories about homes that spent months or years on the market. But with a little elbow grease and a modest budget, you can ensure that yours isn’t one of them. Here’s how.

Give your home curb appeal

Potential buyers make snap judgments about your home. You may have less than 10 seconds to make a good impression. So, the exterior of the house is the first place to start.

Make sure the grass is mowed and the flower beds are weeded and mulched. Pops of color can make an entryway say “Welcome,” so pot a few brightly-colored flowers for the front porch or walkway. If large bushes or trees obscure the front of the house, consider having them professionally trimmed or removed so they aren’t blocking the facade.

Does your home need a fresh coat of paint? Choose a color that’s attractive but not polarizing – no neon greens here. Whether you paint it yourself or hire professionals, make sure you take the time to do it right.

Finally, take a look at the front door. If it’s in good shape, another coat of paint in a contrasting color can make it stand out against the house. If it’s seen better days, consider replacing it with something modern. If your home has shutters or other decorative accents, make sure they’re also painted and in good repair.

Related: Get advice for making your first home purchase easy

Repair and update the interior

The dozens of home renovation TV shows may tell you otherwise, but you don’t need to spend big money on updates to see a big return on investment. Instead, focus on the areas buyers are most likely to notice or use often.

First, have your home inspected. You might already know of some problems, but there may be others you aren’t aware of. Getting an inspection up-front can stop an unpleasant surprise from ruining a deal or costing more money later. If the inspection uncovers any problems, take care of them.

Look for places where a small investment can make a large impact. Update any peeling or dingy paint. Hang new curtains or blinds. If your appliances are aging, consider replacing them.

More extensive projects may seem like a hassle but can help you recoup more money in the long run. Kitchens and bathrooms are good targets for renovations – if your bathtub is pink or there’s carpet in your kitchen, it might be time for an update. A study from the National Association of Realtors® shows many buyers want to move into a home that will require few, if any, renovations. Make that easy for them to imagine with a house that’s already had the work done.

Related: Understanding how closing costs work

Clean up and reduce clutter

Remember how the goal of your home staging was to show people the memories they could make there? The key is their memories – not yours.

You’ll want to put away personal items, clear up the clutter and showcase your home as an inviting, clean space. If you have a lot of items you’ll need to move eventually, renting a storage locker is an option.

Next, you’ll want to make sure your house is spic-and-span. What was it like when you moved in? That’s how clean it should be now. Your home doesn’t have to be brand-new to be spotlessly clean. Spend time shampooing the carpets, wiping down dust from baseboards and scrubbing the grout in tile to show your home in the best light.

Finally, stage your house for showings. Again, a professional can help, but you can also use simple strategies for making your home shine. Bright lighting, a fresh scent, flowers and a nice table setting go a long way to making buyers feel welcomed and positive about your home.

Related: Learn more about options for financing your next home

Next steps in selling your home

Once you’ve got your home in tip-top shape, the fun can begin. Whether you’re selling on your own or with a real estate agent, good housekeeping combined with the right price will keep buyers interested.

Once your home sells, you’ll likely look to purchase another one of your own. Calculate the home equity line of credit you may be eligible to receive with our online tool. It’s free and can help you figure out a starting point for your next home loan.

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