Sprucing up before the sale-but which rooms?
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

If you're like most sellers trying to get their homes in shape, you've got too many things to do and not nearly enough cash in your wallet nor hours in the day to do them. Which rooms or areas in your home should you tackle first to get your house in showing shape?

Here's where input from your Realtor really pays off. He or she will be glad to do a walk-through of your property, noting both the "must dos" and the "nice to dos" to get your home in shape. You'll find that most suggestions won't cost much to implement yet may potentially add hundreds--if not thousands--to your sales price.

Some of those areas include:

  1. The foyer or entry area: First impressions are important. Don't skimp on the fresh paint here, replace damaged or old light fixtures, and make sure lights are bright and add ambiance. There's nothing worse than entering a home through a cave-like entryway. It sets a negative tone for the rest of the home tour.
  2. The kitchen: This is one room in the home where we spend a majority of our waking hours. And since the kitchen has a high priority for cleanliness, potential buyers are very critical of its condition. If time and budget allows, replace worn flooring and counter tops. At the very least, make sure everything is as clean as possible, with a coat of fresh paint being an added plus. If you're going to clean and sort any cupboards in the house, this is the place to start since kitchen cabinets are typically opened and inspected.
  3. The bathroom: After you've scoured and deep-cleaned everything, the next step would be to replace any grout or touch-up any peeling paint. (Remember that just like the kitchen, cleanliness rates high in this room, too!) As an inexpensive added touch, purchase new hand towels and a new shower curtain to give an air of new and clean to the room. Place a bowl of potpourri at the back of the basin to give the room a fresh smell.

If time and budget permit, touch up the paint and/or wallcovering in the living room. This is one room where potential buyers often spend considerable time especially when they're mentally measuring how their furniture would look and fit in the home. If that happens, they've already moved in--in their minds--and closing is just a formality.