Making upgrades before selling your home

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It usually doesn’t make sense to invest in significant upgrades when you’re preparing to sell your home, but there are often inexpensive updates that make a big difference in how potential buyers perceive the home’s condition. Here are some common steps that sellers make to update their home’s look.

In the kitchen

The kitchen is usually the most important room to invest in when you’re selling your home. It has become the focal point of the home, and it’s astounding to see how much today’s buyers focus on it. Fortunately there’s no need for a major kitchen remodel. Usually kitchens can be spruced up with a few minor changes. For example:

* Replace or refinish cabinet fronts. This can really transform the look of the kitchen at a fraction of the cost of replacing cabinets.

* Replace kitchen cabinet hardware. Swap out older hardware on the kitchen cabinets for a newer look such as brushed nickel.

* Upgrade or reface appliances. If the appliances are old, consider replacing them. I know this seems like a lot of money to spend when you’re selling your house, but buyers place a great deal of importance on kitchen appliances. I’ve frequently encountered buyers who cannot look past a kitchen that has outdated appliances, even though the cost to update them is very minor when you take into account the entire cost of the home.

Tip: You can often get rebates on appliances through energystar.gov or find discounted appliances through local outlet stores. You might even check out the “free” listings on Craigslist or Freecycle.org for appliances. People often offer perfectly good appliances for free to whoever is willing to pick them up. If you can’t afford to replace the appliances, you might be able to find new faceplates to make the existing appliances look more attractive.

In the bathrooms

* Eliminate colored tile. The pink, yellow, and green tiles in older baths are a real turnoff to today’s home buyers. Having the tile and tub professionally resurfaced is much less expensive and less disruptive than replacing them altogether.

* Swap out lighting. Replacing the lights above the vanity is often an inexpensive way to freshen up the look of an older bathroom.

Misc updates

* Strip the wallpaper. Wallpaper is a big obstacle for many home buyers. It’s best to eliminate this concern and have wallpaper removed.

* Highlight hardwood. If there are hardwood floors underneath carpets in your home, consider removing the carpets and having the floors refinished. This can make a huge difference in how well the home shows.

* Bring in the light. Replacing a solid door with a wood-framed glass door is a great way to bring in natural light.

* Get a free energy audit. Contact energystar.gov for free advice on inexpensive ways to make your home more energy efficient. For every $1 decrease in annual home energy costs, house values increase between $11.63 and $20.73, according to the Appraisal Journal.

Have a real estate question? Contact Leslie Mann at realestatequeries@yahoo.com or 508-904-4967 and she'd be glad to answer your confidential questions. Mann is a realtor with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Weston, MA.