Deborah Caniff - Lynnfield, MA Real Estate, Swampscott, MA Real Estate, Marblehead, MA Real Estate


In a competitive selling market, it’s vital to make sure you take advantage of any way to give your home an edge over the competition.

Many sellers make expensive home improvements in the hopes of attracting buyers. But, even if you’re on a budget, there are ways to boost curb appeal and increase the value of your home to make your home competitive in today’s seller’s market.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover eight low-cost upgrades you can make to your home today. We tried to keep all of the upgrades under $100 so that you can stick to your budget while still making a big difference in your home.

1. Paint the front door ($30)

One of the first things a potential buyer will notice about your home is the front door. Putting on a fresh coat of paint, especially one that pops and contrasts with the color of your home, will help to make it stand out on the block.

2. Paint your interior trim and baseboards ($75 - $100)

Baseboards often get dirty or scuffed up over the years. Putting a fresh coat of paint will make the entire room look like new. Stick with white for most rooms--it will brighten them up and make them feel clean.

3. Replace your outlet and light switch plates ($20)

They get dirty, they crack, and they get covered in messy paint every time you repaint your walls. Outlet and switch plates see a lot of wear and tear, and a dirty one can be off-putting for potential buyers.

For just a few dollars each or less, replace them all to give the rooms of your home a facelift.

4. Replace fixtures ($50 - $100)

Whether it’s the knobs of your kitchen cabinets or faucet fixtures, there are a number of small items in the kitchen and bathrooms that can be upgraded.

Stainless steel is now out of style, with homeowners choosing brushed nickel and bronze over the traditional stainless.

5. Choose a new shower head ($30 - $50)

Installing a shower head is a lot easier than it looks. Plus, luxurious looking shower heads can be purchased for less than $50 on Amazon, making them a great choice to add a touch of indulgence to the shower.

6. Add new bright, energy efficient lighting ($30 - $50)

Bright LEDs can make a room feel more spacious and modern, and it can save you a few dollars on the electric bill. Installing new lights throughout the home is a good way to show off what lies within.

7. Paint or replace your mailbox ($20 - $80)

Mailboxes can easily get dirty and dented over the years and most of us pay little mind to them. But prospective buyers likely will be on the lookout for any signs of neglect when they view your home. Having a freshly painted mailbox will leave a good first impression.

8. Rent a pressure washer for a day ($50 - $100)

Pressure washing the exterior of your home can make a huge difference when it comes to upgrading curb appeal. Vinyl siding gets dirty quickly and isn’t all that easy to clean.

You can rent a pressure washer from The Home Depot or your local hardware store for typically less than $100 a day.


If plans for selling your home are in the near future, you’re going to want to start strategizing the most cost- and time-effective ways to make your home irresistible to potential buyers. One of the most proven ways of giving your home the edge it needs to stand out from the competition is good photography and attractive staging.

In today’s post, I’m going to share my tips on home staging that can be achieved on a budget and in a short period of time. That way you can focus more time on finding a new home and stop worrying about selling your current one.

Tip 1: Start packing

Before you start worrying about arranging furniture, it’s important to make sure you have a clean slate to work with. Start by packing personal effects into boxes and labeling them accordingly.

Staged homes are homes that look appealing to the widest audience as possible. Having personal reminders, like family photos, trophies, etc., makes it harder for viewers to picture themselves living in the home.

Most of us keep our homes arranged in a way that is convenient to our lives. And. let’s face it--life can be messy. But, when it comes to staging, less is usually more.

Not only will this cleaning process help you reduce clutter and make the home look better for staging, but it will also make your moving process easier since many of your boxes will already be organized and sealed.

Tip 2: Color scheming

Expertly staged homes tend to have one thing in common--a cohesive color scheme. Think of choosing your color scheme like creating an artist’s palette. You want a few colors that compliment one another and that will work together to brighten up your home.

If you have any furniture that appears worn, dated, or that clashes with the scheme of the room, it’s a good idea to place them in storage while you prepare for photographs and visitors.

Tip 3: Decorate sparingly

Now that you’ve packed away your family photos, you might be wondering what to put on the walls in their place. The best answer is often nothing. However, that doesn’t mean the walls need to be completely bare.

For smaller rooms, you can make them appear more spacious with the use of hanging mirrors (just make sure you can’t see yourself in any of those mirrors when you take your photos!).

Tip 4: Don’t forget the outside of your home

The value of curb appeal can’t be overemphasized. The exterior of our homes, along with our yard and driveway, are essentially what we show the world about our lives. Since most home buyers want their house to look nice, fit in with the neighborhood, but have its own unique flair all at the same time. They want to know that your house has that potential.

Furthermore, the driveway and yard are two of the first things people see when they visit. You’ll want to take advantage of this moment by making a good impression.


If your house is currently on the market or you're preparing to put it up for sale, the secret of success lies in the lyrics of an old popular song called "Accentuate The Positive." Although it was originally published in 1944, the song has been resurfacing for years on television, in movies, and music recordings.

"Accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative" may seem like basic, old-fashioned advice, but when homeowners follow it, they increase their chances of selling their home faster and for the highest possible price.

Although your real estate agent will provide a ton of helpful advice on how to present your house in its best light, there are dozens of things you can start doing now to improve its marketability, curb appeal, and the positive response you get from real estate agents and buyers.

  • Avoid or minimize any aspect of your home and property that gives the impression of neglect. That could include anything from peeling paint and cracked windows to overgrown bushes and weedy yards. Weeds growing out of cracks in walkways, driveways, and concrete flooring often looks the worst -- but weeds, in general, always detract from the appearance of a home for sale.
  • Reduce or eliminate anything that might create a feeling of "unpleasantness" in the minds of prospects. In other words, if there's anything about your home that might cause buyers to cringe, frown, gasp, crinkle their nose (in displeasure) or shake their heads, then you probably need to take corrective action -- and fast! A prime example would be pet odors, stains, and loose fur, which can be major turnoffs for many people -- especially if they have allergies!
  • If little or no interior painting has been done over the past five or ten years, there's a strong chance that your walls are faded, marred, and looking worse for the wear. A couple coats of neutral-colored paint can often infuse a more vibrant, updated appearance to those tired-looking rooms. Subtle, light colors -- although, not necessarily stark white -- are often advisable. The objective is to appeal to as many people as possible, without taking any decorating risks that might alienate anyone.
  • Speaking of "harsh versus eye-pleasing," your home's lighting is another important thing to scrutinize when looking for cost-effective ways to increase the attractiveness, appeal, and marketability of your home.
As you're searching for ways to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, try to view your home from the perspective of someone who's just seeing it for the first time. In all probability, your real estate agent will be enormously helpful in that respect, and immediately begin looking for ways to effectively stage your home. If they've been showing homes in your area for a number of years, they will have a good sense of what attracts and repels today's home buyer. Your agent can provide a professional opinion on everything from flooring and counter tops to wall colors and curb appeal.

If you're getting ready to put your house on the market, your real estate agent will create a focused marketing plan that will help attract interested prospects to your home. Although your agent will tap into a variety of resources to make it widely known that your house is for sale, there's information you can provide which will help them present it in its best possible light. Specifically, I'm talking about the things that make prospective buyers perk up, such as HVAC system upgrades, major home improvements, and decorating updates. If you've kept good records about rooms you've remodeled, fixtures you've replaced, and any structural, cosmetic, or mechanical upgrades you've made over the years, it would be helpful to itemize those improvements and share them with your Realtor or real estate agent. Unless your home was newly constructed when you bought it, chances are you've made numerous changes. Here are examples of some of the types of information you'll want to pass along to your agent:
  • The age of the roof: There are a lot of variables, when it comes to the life expectancy of roofing materials. With harsh weather conditions -- including sweltering summer days and annual ice buildups -- Mother Nature subjects your roof to a lot of wear and tear. If it's been more than 20 years since your roof was last replaced, the shingles are probably starting to show visible signs of deterioration. That's definitely not a selling point for prospective buyers. What house hunters do love to hear is that the roof is relatively new and has been replaced within the past five years. Although prices vary and can run higher, roofs typically cost at least $10,000 to replace. Many potential buyers would be turned off by the prospect of having to shell out that kind of money after they close on the house. Others might use that as a bargaining chip to get you to lower your asking price. In either case, an old roof puts you at a disadvantage.
  • Completed remodeling projects: Although some home buyers thrive on the idea of renovating a property themselves, most would prefer an updated home. Recently remodeled bathrooms and kitchens will make your house much more appealing and marketable to would-be buyers. If those closely scrutinized rooms look dated or poorly maintained, you can be sure that will negatively impact the selling price and/or the amount of time your house stays on the market.
  • Mechanical and electrical upgrades: People like to hear about improvements like a new central air conditioning system, a furnace replacement, or an upgraded electrical panel. These can all be major selling points, especially among prospective buyers who have had trouble with any of these vital systems in the past.
  • Miscellaneous: Other features that could help sell your house may include energy-efficient windows, new flooring, lighting, security systems, room additions, a new driveway or walkways, a finished basement or attic, basement waterproofing, new siding, fencing, patios, porches, and landscaping improvements.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all the home improvements you'll want to share with your real estate agent, it includes many of the key items that will be on the minds of prospective buyers.

If you desire to sell your home at the best possible price and in the least amount of time, you're going to require an experienced real estate agent working on your behalf. Don't leave your financial future to chance. The sale of your home likely represents one of the most significant financial transactions of your lifetime. Just as you wouldn't choose a lawyer or doctor by reading the classified ads or driving about town and settling on the first friendly face noticed on a billboard, it is wise to do the research and consider the huge investment at stake before making a costly mistake.

When you're ready to choose a realtor, there are several easy methods to go about finding the best one for your unique needs. You will want to choose a realtor with the experience; personality and "savvy" required to ensure a smooth and problem-free transaction. While It is a temptation to use a real estate agent who is a family member or friend, remember if your "Cousin Carlos" or "Aunt Agnes” has not been specifically trained in your market, lacks knowledge in short sales or does not have the experience to negotiate on your behalf, it will be really awkward when you have to fire him/her when they fail to perform. Ask yourself; do you want them privy to your personal financial information? To save embarrassment and to prevent hard feelings, ask for a referral to a seasoned firm. In many situations, your friend or family member will receive a referral fee.

Not all selling agents are licensed or have the same training. The National Association of Realtors advises, "The term "real estate agent" is generic and refers to a sales agent, who is responsible to a real estate broker and who is licensed by his or her state real estate commission to assist the broker in the business of buying, selling, exchanging, appraising, and managing property. A Realtor is a real estate agent who meets all these requirements and more. " Members of the NRA actively participate in ongoing seminars, workshops, and certification training to keep stay current in the ever-changing volatile market. They actively participate in community activities and neighborhood organizations, building a network of satisfied clients.

Seek a selling agent that is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NRA). Only members of the NAR may call themselves Realtors, a distinction that sets them apart from non-members. Realtors are held to high standard of ethical practice and conduct and agree to follow the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in all transactions. Reputation is paramount. Select a realtor with good online reviews and excellent word of mouth recommendations. Check references and ask if the real estate agent has been involved in litigation or sanctioned by the State Board of Realtors. If so, was the matter resolved to the satisfaction of all parties?

Request recommendations from family and friends who have sold their homes in your area. It is comforting to know that someone you trust has entrusted the sale of their home to an agent that successfully guided them through the real estate transaction with a positive outcome.

Look for a realtor that specializes in selling your type of property, in your price range. The majority of seasoned real estate selling agents focus their time and energies on a particular market. If the real estate agent you are considering specializes in downtown lofts and condos, although experienced, they are unlikely to have many customers for your family home in the suburbs. Pick a selling agent that is willing and ready to commit their time and resources to selling your home.

Ask questions. What's happening with new construction in your price range and how will it affect the sale of your property? Is the local real estate market falling, level or rising? Is there any issue coming up within the community that will affect the sale of homes, such as commercial development, announcements of major company relocations, an increase in taxes or a change in zoning? Quiz the selling agent about your neighborhood, making sure they are familiar with the characteristics and amenities that make your property attractive to a potential buyer. Select a realtor who is up-to-date on what's happening in the marketplace, detail orientated and motivated to sell your home for all it's worth.

Interview several agents, inquiring into their sales background. Ask agents how many homes they have sold in the past six months and if they work at real estate full time.

If a potential selling agent only sells real estate part time, you will only receive a part-time effort.

Determine if the selling agent has a marketing plan for your property. In order to sell your home quickly, it is imperative that the property receives maximum exposure. Where will the home be advertised? When will your home be included be in the national multi-list service? Will the sale of the property be promoted via the Internet? How often will the agent conduct an open house? A selling agent that cannot readily answer these questions is likely only seeking the listing and does not have your best interests at heart. Pick a real estate selling agent with a REALTOR e-PRO ® designation which certifies that they are a professional with current training to harness the selling power of the Internet.

It's wise to choose an agent backed by a professional team to assist you in achieving your real estate goals. An experienced realtor will suggest a knowledgeable and efficient title company, a reputable home inspector and any contractors or service providers you may need in readying your home for sale. Analyze the answers you receive to all your questions, and then narrow the field to two or three agents. Trust your intuition and choose a realtor with whom you feel comfortable and in whom you have confidence.

Choosing a real estate agent comes down to two main considerations; pricing the property correctly from day one and the negotiating skills of the agent. Pick a Realtor that puts the client before the commission.




Loading