The Little Things: Small Decisions That Can Impact Your Home's Sale Price

Prepare your property for sale with a few minor changes that will breathe new life into each space.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |July 12, 2017, at 1:29 p.m.

The Little Things: Small Decisions That Can Impact Your Home's Sale Price

Slideshow

Minor moves for a bigger payoff.

A young woman tidying her house

(Getty Images)

A lot of thought goes into preparing your home for sale, and most decisions depend on the amount of investment you’re willing to put in before the house goes on the market and how big your return will likely be. So it may come as a surprise that many seemingly minor changes can make a significant difference on your house’s sale price. Small updates won’t fix every problem spot, of course – as Andrea Di Giuseppe, founder and CEO of TREND Transformations puts it: “If you still have your kitchen giving you the vibe of the ‘Golden Girls,’ well, maybe you need to refresh it completely.” The following little decisions may help you appeal to potential borrowers.

Paint color

Paint color

Luxury Master Bathroom with Free Standing Bath Tub

(Getty Images)

Real estate information company Zillow released its 2017 Paint Color Analysis in June, which found that blue hues had the most positive overall impact. Homes with blue bathrooms, in particular, sold for $5,440 more, on average. However, homes with a blue living room typically sold for $820 less. Red dining rooms have a negative correlation, with homes selling for $2,031 less, on average. Homes with a light brown or beige living room sold for $1,809 more on average, according to the report.

Hardware

Hardware

Cabinets, ovens and windows in modern kitchen

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A simple way to refresh key rooms in your home is to update the hardware – cabinet door handles, drawer pulls and interior doorknobs – with something that might look a little newer. “You can dress up a cabinet – in a kitchen or in a bathroom – very easily just by replacing the hardware,” says Marcia Dorolek, a real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Pristine in Bonita Springs, Florida. She adds that it can be particularly effective if the current hardware is builder's standard because it may be simple or dated.

Cabinets

Cabinets

Modern kitchen with lots of earth tones.

(iStockphoto)

If your cabinets have seen better days, you could make a slightly larger update but still avoid redoing your an entire kitchen or bathroom. “You could very simply reface your cabinetry and change your countertop,” Di Giuseppe says. Refaced cabinets, which includes applying fresh veneer to the cabinet structure and adding new matching doors and drawers, can remove the scuffs and nicks your kitchen may have suffered over the years.

Behind closed doors

Behind closed doors

A large and luxurious walk-in wardrobe.

(iStockPhoto)

One cost-free update you should not avoid is decluttering – and more specifically, decluttering your cabinets and closets. “Buyers are very interested, and they’re going to open the closets; they are going to open the cabinets,” Dorolek says, noting a crammed pantry, fridge or closet will make it look like the house lacks storage. No need to completely empty every nook and cranny, but make it sparse to give off the feel of ample space.

Furniture

Furniture

Close up of a living room showing a yellow sofa, with a lamp, ornate pendant and a table with decoration. There is a gray carpet with two pillows on it. Gray wall surrounding the scene with wooden floor.

(Getty Images)

You don’t necessarily have to toss your unattractive armchair out on the street, but you should take note of the pieces of furniture that could be improved to better sell the space. If you’ve got an upholstered chair or sofa with worn cushions or stuffing breaking out, consider a slip cover in the right color to complement the rest of the room. “You can do a lot of things with a throw cover,” Dorolek says.

Surfaces

Surfaces

Beautiful Kitchen in Luxury Home with Island and Stainless Steel

(Getty Images)

Another moderately minor renovation is focusing on the surfaces of the room. You should steam clean carpet that’s in good shape, consider restaining scuffed hardwood and potentially replace a dated countertop if you can still salvage the rest of the kitchen or bathroom. Rather than going for granite, which hit its peak in popularity a few years ago, Di Giuseppe recommends quartz or similarly engineered stone as a keyword that will stand out in a listing. “[Engineered surfaces] are very long-lasting, they are easy to maintain and for sure give you the highest return,” he says.

Flowers and plants

Flowers and plants

elegant bedroom in soft light colors, big bed at center

(Getty Images)

Inside and out, accent color from a floral arrangement can give your home the pop it needs to make a buyer feel welcome. A well-maintained lawn is key with bushes and shrubs where appropriate outside, plus some colorful plants by the door. “Flowering plants are there to give it some color,” Dorolek says, adding that flowers on a table or counter inside are also a nice touch. Use other plants inside where it makes sense, but avoid blocking walkways or cluttering any space with too many plants by keeping them on a table top or in a corner.

Pro recommendations

Pro recommendations

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Other little decisions are often based on the location and condition of your home, and if your real estate agent hasn’t given you a checklist of small changes or updates you can make, it may be a good idea to speak with a home stager or other professional to get tips customized to the home you’re selling. Di Giuseppe recommends always working with a consultant over a person connected to selling you materials to ensure you’ll get an unbiased opinion. “A salesperson will tell you you need to change everything. A consultant will understand what level of investment you want,” he says.

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Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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