Article: Easy Affordable Improvements

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It’s one of the biggest questions for sellers thinking about listing their home,, one that keeps them up at night as they mull the big decision: How much money is this going to cost me, anyway?

The answer often is not as scary as you might think.

As long as major things — roof, foundation, flooring — are in good repair, making a noticeable difference in the appearance of your home can cost as little as a can of paint or be as easy as taking a sledgehammer to that space-hogging kitchen island.

The experts at This Old House, who know a thing or three about maximizing in swell properties, provide a nice slideshow of 10 easy changes that will get your home ready to list. A few of our favorites include:

Make space

The aforementioned island can be a space-suck, as can… um… walls. Buyers, as well as the Dixie Chicks, are increasingly looking for wide open spaces, particularly between the living room and kitchen areas.

Anything that opens the space and creates a sense of flow in the house is generating a response from buyers who can afford to be choosy. For the price of a few hundred dollars, you’ll transform the feel of the house.

Bathroom? Booyeah!

Don’t ignore the commode. Bathrooms and kitchens are surefire deal-breakers. And it doesn’t have to mean a full renovation: A little can go a long way here.

Replace frosted glass for clear glass, clean the grout, remove rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, and install a low-flush toilet. Even buying a new toilet seat can make a difference.

Think like a buyer

Let’s get real for a sec. Take a walk through your house. Look at every element excluding personal possessions (and even then, that life-size replica of Michelangelo’s “David” should probably go in storage), and ask yourself this question. “Will this wallpaper/carpet/paint choice/hardware make a potential buyer go ‘what?'”. If so, it must go.

[It’s] the “What’s that?” factor, and whatever it is (1950s wallpaper in a 1930s bungalow, a broken front step or cracked threshold, green-and-blue vinyl flooring), fix it or remove it. She recommends getting the impartial advice of a friend who can tell you what’s drawing attention and raising questions for the wrong reasons.

And because we love all things cranked out by The Motley Fool, here’s another resource for cheap fixes that will help you sell. Two of the six points have to do with light, both natural and from fixtures. Be sure windows are clean, curtains maximize natural light, and that the fixtures you do leave on compliment the sun and cast an easy glow, not harsh fluorescents or dingy shades.

The other Motley idea we liked: Clean out and organize your personal and storage closets. You may not be able to do a lot to increase the amount of storage you have, but you can dramatically impact the impression a potential buyer looks when they open your closet or linen area by keeping things uncluttered and investing in some organization systems.

Read the full Motley article here.