Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Selling Your House - What to Do First cont.

With your budget in mind and plenty of inside time in the winter, repair the things a buyer will see on the inside of your house.

1. First De-Cutter. If your house is full of furniture or knick-knacks, has piles of toys, magazines, papers, or a zillion candles, it's going to look too small. Whether your rooms are small or not, if they are cluttered they will look small.

So, pack up, donate, give away, or trash all of that clutter. De-cluttering now will make it much easier when you're ready to paint the walls, and it'll be easier to keep your house clean if there are fewer things to move around.

2. Repair holes in the walls and ceiling. Sheetrock (wallboard), paper joint tape, and joint compound are cheap, and fairly easy to learn. You can find many web sites online that will show you, step by step, how to repair sheetrock walls. Just take the plunge and try it. It's not rocket science.

3. Replace rusty, leaky bathroom and kitchen faucets. You don't have to spend $600 on a faucet. Lowes and WalMart have some nice looking faucets for under $75. I found a bathroom sink faucet with porcelain handles at Walmart for $28.

Sink faucets are pretty easy to install. The hardest part is hooking up the stopper thingy, and that just involves turning a screw and making adjustments.

4. Re-caulk the tub and scrub it well. If the tile surround or tub is in really bad shape, consider a new fiberglass tub and surround. These are fairly inexpensive to have installed. I paid around $900 to have a handyman/contractor buy, deliver, remove the old tub, and install the new one about 3 years ago.

5. Clean the carpet. If deep/steam cleaning won't make the carpeting look presentable, you may have to replace the flooring. Install Linoleum or Vinyl tiles, and use area rugs instead of wall-to-wall carpeting. Linoleum and Vinyl tiles are usually less expensive than wall-to-wall carpeting, and much easier to keep clean.

Hardwood floors are all the rage now, but if you have even a slight problem with moisture or your subfloors are concrete, hardwood floors will be ruined quickly (concrete or cinder block tends to wick moisture up from the ground, and a plywood subfloor would have to be installed).

Hardwoods are also quite expensive to buy, and the floors must be perfectly level to install them. Unless hardwood floors are the norm in your neighborhood, I'd pass on it. It's just more trouble and expense than it's worth.

6. Paint, stain, or clean the cabinets in your home. Paint is cheap and covers a lot of sins, even on laminates.

I have laminate kitchen cabinets, so I scrubbed them well then used 3 coats of high gloss paint. They look much better and wipe clean easily now.

7. Paint the walls and ceilings. A fresh coat of paint always brightens up a house, and also serves to neutralize the decor. But remember, now is not the time to choose bright, splashy colors. Stick with light, muted colors.

If your rooms are small, choose white for the walls and the ceilings. I know, white is boring, but most people aren't going to hate white walls and ceilings. They may feel that way about red or teal walls, however.

If your rooms are large, go with light tans, khakis, or muted greens for the walls, and white for the ceilings. Let your flooring colors guide you. If you have dark or multicolored carpeting or vinyl, choose a very light shade that matches, not contrasts, the floor color.

This list of First Things to Do ought to get you started. If you have any money left, I'll be back later to suggest what you might do next.

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