The right changes can positively impact the selling price of your house.

By Emily Shwake
Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Selling your home can be an emotionally difficult process—not only are you parting with a place that holds so many memories, but you're also hoping that someone loves it as much as you do. On top of all that, it can also be financially draining and work-intensive to make it more attractive for prospective buyers.

Colette Shelton of Cococozy, who has been flipping houses for years, says that you don't have to make big, expensive changes to your home in order to sell it at a higher price. The goal, she explains, is to turn your home into a blank slate so that prospective buyers can see what their own vision would look like. "You want to think about what somebody else would react positively to," says Shelton. "They're going to react to a clean space that feels fresh." Making a good first impression, removing visual clutter, creating seamless transitions between rooms, and updating dated features are essential steps if you want to boost the price tag of your house and sell it quickly. Shelton offers a wide range of inexpensive and simple projects that can totally transform the space.

Related: Should You Renovate Your Home Before Putting It on the Market?

Soften the Front Yard with Landscaping

Curb appeal is undeniably important, but painting the front door isn't the only thing you can do to enhance it. Some simple updates to your current landscaping can make a house seem so much more inviting. Native grasses, wildflowers, and herbs can be a welcome change to the archetypal lawns that require so much upkeep. "There are many other ways to make it look lush," says Shelton. She loves planting olive trees, papyrus, rosemary, and lavender which all grow quickly without much water or care. Shelton also recommends that you stay away from red mulch which looks "big and bricky." Instead, opt for dark soil that will foster that soft, earthy aesthetic.

Make the Foyer Take Their Breath Away

The foyer is like the introduction to the home so you want it to represent the style or mood that translates throughout the rest of it. Whatever you see when you first walk in the door should be impeccable. "If you have a dated light fixture in there, change it to something simple and discreet," says Shelton. She recommends schoolhouse-style sconces or pendants with matte finishes.

Establish Continuity Between Rooms

Moving through rooms with different features or styles can be disorienting, so reduce the variety as much as possible. For example, Shelton worked on a home with beautiful wood flooring in the entryway but wall-to-wall shag carpeting in the living room. In order to ease the transition, she ripped out the carpeting and replaced it with jute rugs so that it matched the foyer and felt more intentional. Other inexpensive options for updating the floors are installing ceramic tile, staining hardwood, or laying sheet vinyl.

Pay Attention to the Details

In their 2019 analysis of home features, Zillow found that 49% of listings with a "pot filler" sold for more than expected. It just goes to show that the finishing touches are just as important—if not more so—as the massive overhauls. Weighty doorknobs and sleek faucets will appeal to their sense of touch as well as their eyes. For the same reason, consider replacing plastic wall plates with something made of wood or metal. "I tend to do long handles on cabinet doors because it cleans up the lines," she says.

Neutralize the Space with White Paint and Transitional Design

Personal touches are what make a house a home, but they can disrupt the buyer's vision of what theirs would look like. Once you've removed your art and family photos, it's important to wipe the rooms clean of your style. "It should be someplace between modern and traditional so that it's easily relatable to a lot of people," says Shelton. High baseboards can make the walls appear taller and ceiling medallions can easily give a room some charm. Installing decorative paneling is also surprisingly cheap and simple to install.

Make Temporary Changes to Foster Ideas

While you don't want to go too crazy with ornamentation, adding subtle details can help spark the imagination of prospective buyers. "It's about giving people enough of an idea that they can imagine themselves in it," says Shelton. Peel-and-stick vinyl tiles are inexpensive and easy to install within a matter of hours. You can use them to add a backsplash to the kitchen or to give a bathroom some layers, and simple to remove if the buyer is planning their own remodel.

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