A bathroom can reveal all about a property and its current owner – when the house was built, if it’s a high-tech, energy-efficient space, whether it’s been maintained or if the homeowner keeps a rigid cleaning schedule. All of that and more can be revealed in a room that holds your most private moments – that’s why it’s crucial for a home seller to spruce up this room before the home hits the housing market.

The bathroom should be light, bright, spacious and clutter-free. Mimic your favorite luxury hotel or spa to make this room one a buyer wants to escape to, especially in a master suite. Like the kitchen, the bathroom is always a priority for homebuyers. Consider the amount of time that will be spent there getting ready for work and events, bathing the kids or taking a break after a hard day’s work with a soak or steam shower.

According to home design website Houzz's 2014 Winter Bathroom Trends study more than half of homeowners start their new full bathroom project from scratch, though a powder room is more likely to be updated rather than gutted than other bathrooms. In most instances, it’s not a wise investment to do a costly renovation just for a home sale, because you’ll never get the return on your investment.

[See: 8 Ways to Stage Your Home in the Winter.]

But that doesn’t mean you have to leave the bathroom as-is. It’s important to maximize on what you already have on a budget, which will help homebuyers visualize the potential of the room. Here are a few projects a seller can implement to freshen up the bathroom for less than $1,000.

Clear off surfaces. Start by removing all your personal items laying around on countertop surfaces, in your shower and surrounding the throne. By leaving your personal items on public display, buyers are naturally more interested in the products than the features of the room, and can be easily distracted. A lot of personal items can also make buyers feel as if they’re intruding on your personal space. Keep toothbrushes, hair products, magazines, scales, plungers and toilet brushes at bay – find them new homes under the sink or in a closet close by.

One tip to consider: Use baskets to corral shower items so you can easily access them when needed, and put them away just as fast for showings.

Clean up. While this is a budget-friendly solution, and it can be labor intensive and time consuming depending on the bathroom’s condition. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so clean the space to make it feel like new. If your bathrooms are immaculate, it gives buyers the impression that your home has been well maintained and cared for.

Apply a fresh coat of paint. Painting a room is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to update the space. Choose an off white, beige, gray, green or even a blue to give the bathroom a facelift. Paint the cabinetry, countertop surfaces, even old, worn-out wall tiles with specialty paint in neutral tones, rather than gutting the room.

Sell it with storage space. Buyers will be looking inside bathroom drawers and cabinets to see how much space they offer. Make sure they are organized by removing half of the items being stored in those spaces. Consider using shelf paper or liners to add some hidden personality, as well as pretty boxes with a lid to contain smaller items.

[See: Weird Home Features That May Confuse Homebuyers.]

Make minor upgrades. Spend your money wisely, only making small, inexpensive improvements where it will show. Try replacing shower door glass, or repaint the shower door frame in a popular metal color like gold, silver or bronze. Replace a leaking faucet and opt for a showerhead that has multiple pressure options, including the rain feature. Update towel bars, broken tiles and replace rusty mirrors. You can also frame old, worn-out mirrors.

Outline the details. Grout lines and old caulking can show any bathroom’s age. Take the time to clean the grout lines between tiles with a combination of baking soda, water and vinegar. For tough stains and discoloration try using Polyblend Grout Renew. Don’t forget to re-caulk around the bathtub, shower, toilet and sink areas.

Make the hardware shine. It’s amazing how small details can personalize a bathroom. For less than $100 a seller can replace the knobs and pulls on their cabinets to create a completely different look. Want to keep your old hardware? Wash them well with warm water and soap, then spray paint them in a metal finish.

Upgrade fixtures that flow. Buy a new faucet to mount if your old one has seen better days. There are a variety of styles and finishes that can vary in cost. If your sink can handle it, choose a faucet with a considerable spout height and reach to look more sophisticated. Remember all the fixtures in the room should have matching metal finishes and materials to create a cohesive look.

Light the way. Is your lighting fixture dating the room? If so, replace it with a newer version. Look for sconces, chandeliers, vanity lights or semi-flush mount ceiling fixtures that fit your home’s design style.

[See: 10 Unorthodox Ways Your Real Estate Agent May Market Your Home.]

Add finishing touches. Choose accessories to add a layer of warmth, elegance and luxury. This is where you can consider using soft, tranquil colors to complete the spa-like look. Use luxurious towels, a flower or plant, display fragrant soaps, bath oils and natural loofahs inside apothecary jars and display candles around the tub. Make sure to group these items together to create a uniformity that looks less cluttered.

Tags: real estate, housing market, existing home sales, pending home sales, home improvements


Tori Toth is a best-selling author, DIY and lifestyle expert, award-winning home stager and lifestyle authority. She can show anybody how to add more value to their home by giving the tools needed to prepare and showcase any home for sale. She works with consumers, real estate agents, or anybody else who wants to make their home look its best quickly and easily. Home staging is a strategic marketing tool for the biggest return on investment of a home, focusing on renovation and creative design. By creating a lifestyle that buyers will find aspirational, Tori Toth will demonstrate methods of rearranging, organizing and in many cases, adding or editing furniture and home décor. The best, clearest, most helpful information of how to stage a home with and be an immediate success can be found in Tori’ best-selling book "Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell."

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