The 21 affordable and quick fix-ups that make your home sell higher

The 21 affordable and quick fixups below will make your home sell higher.

It doesn’t pay to rush when preparing to sell unless your house is always in perfect condition. To make your home sell higher you must impress potential buyers. Most people’s homes are lived in and if you’re planning to sell there’s usually some work to do.

Roughly estimate a buyer will deduct $2000 for each unchecked item and you’ll understand the value in fixing each of the low-cost items below. If you’re going to sell your home, do it right and earn more.

Use the list below to make sure nothing is missed that might hurt the sale price of your home.

A shiny exterior and especially the entrance

It’s important to keep the exterior of your home pretty. Debris builds up any time of year and even dirt in the edges of the entrance threshold can discourage a buyer. As part of the first impression, sweep, wipe down, and scrub every couple of days. Hint: if your siding is faded or oxidized at the front entrance, you can make it look better with a bit of Armour All. Even in the winter, keep the sidewalk, front step, and surrounding area beautiful.

Replace or repair visible imperfections.

So many imperfections are affordable to repair. If a baseboard has a gouge or is missing a section replace or repair it. The small stuff matters more than you think. When a buyer sees one problem, even little, they imagine there must be more.

Yard care and full package presentation

Remember, curb appeal and the first impression can grab and hold a buyer’s interest. Even if a person isn’t an avid gardener they will appreciate the look landscaping adds. Have you ever driven past a house and wondered why it looks like something’s missing? Have a closer look – it’s often because there is no separation between the lawn and the foundation. It’s bare, plain and unattractive, and looks cheap. Houses with even a little landscaping will seller better.

Also, an untrimmed lawn is visually unappealing and so are weeds. Make sure to mow often and get rid of dandelions. Even in the winter, the yard needs to appear clean and tidy. Around the house and fence, don’t leave long grass or the old dead branches and leaves from last summer, tidy these up to make your home sell higher.

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Make sure all lights and lightbulbs work. Having lights on when a potential buyer arrives to view your home helps with a lot with the first impression. The impact is diminished if lightbulbs are not working.

Purge and declutter

If you’ve only ever watched one real estate-related TV show you’d still have to take a shoe off to count how many times the word declutter comes up. That’s because decluttering is so important. It will take some time and planning but it needs to be done. The great thing is it’s relatively inexpensive to do.

When we are living in our house some of the things we find pleasing will be less attractive to buyers. Clutter is visually unappealing and can also make a room appear smaller.

Decluttering not only pays off inside or your house, but you should also do it outside.

Paint and touch-up, but only if…

Only if you’re prepared to do a good job. Bad painting and touchups can lose you money. When a buyer looks at bad construction and even bad painting they imagine it’s something they’ll have to redo and that will of course encourage a lower offer. A professional painter, if needed, is a smart investment.

Repair any ceiling stains

Stains on the ceilings are a serious concern to buyers. Maybe it’s only condensation that’s built up around the exhaust fan but buyers will assume it’s a leak and leaks can be deal-breakers.

Food and drink can hit the ceilings, especially in the kitchen. If this is the case you’ll likely have to have the ceiling primed and painted.

If there’s a stain that can’t be cleaned or repainted without disrupting the texture, get a pro to repair and match the texture. When the texture doesn’t match, the repair stands out and says… “there was an issue here.” And remember how suspected leaks make buyers feel?


Make your windows look new and let them shine. Windows are something every interested buyer will check but before they look closely show them how well they work. Clean your windows inside and out and keep them clean through the selling process. A buyer will appreciate clean windows when they’re in your house. They feel the light coming through and they see how shiny everything is outside. Realty gives buyers cash-back!

Also, clean the window tracks. Dust alone gets moisture on it and it turns black. If you want to make window track cleaning easy clean your window tracks once a month. When you’re selling clean them each week.

Make sure your windows operate correctly. A window with a broken opening lever is a broken window and even if a buyer doesn’t need it fixed they’ll offer a lower price on the house. Remember, when buyers see one little issue they imagine there are more.

Fogged windows with moisture between the glass (where you can’t wipe the moisture off) can also lead to exaggerated buyer concerns. In this situation, the seal between the two layers of glass is compromised and moisture is getting in. And the moisture that does get in stays longer because there’s little or no air circulation. Nobody wants a window that’s hard to see through. Also, when a seal is broken the insulation value of the window is much lower. To a buyer, this is a broken window and they imagine the entire window needs fully replaced. Worse than that, they imagine if one seal is broken the others will soon follow and in their mind, it’s now even a bigger issue. If you’re planning to sell your home and one or more of your windows are fogging from time to time I recommend getting the glass replaced. The pane of glass can be replaced without replacing the entire window unit and the cost is generally much lower. A buyer might see a $1000 issues when the issue can actually be resolved for only a fraction of that cost.

Buyers like low-maintenance windows but if your windows are older do your best to make them look good. Wooden window frames take some maintenance and should be sanded and stained or painted to keep them in good shape and give them longevity. If your exterior window frames are in rough shape don’t just paint over them. Painting over loose paint or cracked wood will only draw attention to the lack of maintenance they’ve had. If they need paint, prepare them properly, it’s worth the effort and will make your home sell higher.

*Poly-b water supply line issues

This doesn’t fit in the “affordable” category but it’s important to be aware of. If your house was built between 1985 and 1997 the water supply lines could be Poly-b (Polybutylene) tubing and it is, for the most part, currently uninsurable in Alberta. If you currently hold insurance on your home there is no problem but a buyer likely won’t be able to get insurance when they buy it.

This is not an affordable repair but it will avoid a major complication and encourage a better sale price once replaced. Not doing it prior to selling could halt your sale at the inspection or sooner with many buyers knowing to look for it.

If your house does have Poly-b tubing and you’d like to learn more call or text Blake King at (403) 350-7672 or use the WhatsApp button below.

Window coverings

Replace old outdated or faded window coverings. You don’t have to do the whole house or spend very much. The large hardware stores have some affordable window coverings. If you have ugly window coverings and can’t afford new ones, you might even be better off removing them altogether. If you are removing blinds repair screw and nail holes.

Super clean all the appliances

A clean fridge, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer will impress buyers but also focus on the other expensive appliances. It might seem like an area that doesn’t matter but everyone thinks a furnace and hot water tank are much newer when they are shiny and free of dust. Another inexpensive home-selling helper is having your furnace and ducts professionally cleaned. A good company will make the inside and outside of your furnace look new and it’s a very attractive receipt to keep visible during showings. Every buyer will feel more comfortable buying your house if they know the hidden areas are also clean.

Tidy above your line of sight to make your home sell higher

Corners, shelves, alcoves, and light fixtures can collect dust bunnies and dust webs and they will turn a buyer off. These are easy to remedy.

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Remove any indication of pests

Remove any bug traps and mouse traps and there is no need to explain why. Every house sees some ants in the summer but some buyers don’t realize that and, like so many other things, people imagine the worst. Mousetraps can be deal-breakers.

Clean, clean, clean

I didn’t put this first because it might be best to do once you’ve completed all your fixups and improvements.

Give your house a very thorough clean before selling – it makes such a difference. When you think you’re done cleaning, have a discerning friend look for spots you may have missed. One missed spot can make cleaning look as though it’s rarely done. A buyer will view a home more favourably when they imagine it’s always clean and well kept. Clean the hidden areas too. A buyer will look inside your pantry, so clean and tidy it up. It doesn’t hurt if closets are tidied up too and make them smell as fresh as possible.

Make your house smell nice

Air fresheners and diffusers are inexpensive and make a nice difference. Maybe bake some cookies or muffins. Smells like these give most people a comfortable feeling. To help with eliminating “lived-in” smells, give all of your walls a washing with your favourite cleanser or water with some essential oil.

If your house is smoked in or even if smokers live in it it will smell bad even to other smokers. Eliminating all smoke odours will definitely make your home sell higher. To completely remove smoke odours hire a company that does ozone treatment. The cost of not doing it will far outweigh the cost of the ozone treatment.

Make sure all doors operate smoothly

If doors aren’t working as smooth as they should they often only need some minor adjustments. This is important because when a door sticks buyers assume it might indicate a structural issue. Most buyers assume one small issue is a clue to bigger issues.

This also applies to windows, make sure they all operate smoothly. Windows need maintenance especially older ones. If a handle, crank or any other usable part is broken or not working get it fixed. If only one window is out of commission a buyer might assume the others are too.

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Make your fence healthy

Paint and repair the fence. Older treated lumber can even start to grey and become visually unappealing. If your fence is ugly looking, paint or stain it. It’s worth it maybe even a great summer family project. If your fence is leaning anywhere, has boards missing, or is not attached properly, fix that too. It’s a small inexpensive repair that will make your home sell higher.

One broken post causing a fence to lean will make a buyer think an entire new fence is needed and that alone could discourage an offer. If you think you might be selling in the winter, get this job done when the weather is right. Ongoing fence maintenance will save you thousands over the life of your home. Even if you aren’t selling for a while, keeping your fence maintained is worth it.

Garage shining

Most people think the garage doesn’t matter but I’ve seen organized and painted garages wow buyers and solidify an offer. Even if you’re using your garage to store moving boxes etc, cleaning up the garage will earn you a higher sale price.

Do a thorough perimeter walk-around

And continue perimeter walks every couple of days. View your home with a buyer’s eye. Walk your outside yard and fence line and clean it up. Line up your garbage bins. Cut grass behind your fence in the alley to make it look like you always do it. Most buyers will drive by a house they like a couple of times before viewing it. Make your property inviting on the outside so buyers trust it’s also nice inside to make them want to see the inside as well.

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Moisture around foundation

Make sure all grading around your house slopes away from the foundation. If the ground tilts toward your house, add a filler (dirt, sod, gravel) in those places to raise the ground at the foundation to slope it away from the house. This is something that should be looked at as ongoing home maintenance. If it isn’t, the ground will naturally lower directly around the foundation.

Making the grading run away from the foundation will keep water away that could penetrate the foundation or build-up and gradually cause deterioration. 

Inward grading should be monitored each summer so it doesn’t become a problem. If the inward grading is left a buyer will assume there is or has been accumulation and assume possible issues.

What if there’s a sidewalk alongside the house and it is sloping toward the foundation? This won’t be an easy fix but leaving it will lead to problems and encourage lower offers.

Also, make sure all gutter downspouts are connected and routing rainwater as far from your foundation as possible.

Roof issues are out of sight

But not during a home inspection. If you can, get up on your roof and look for any issues. Often homeowners don’t notice a leak until it shows up on their ceiling. It’s much better to spot issues sooner so you only have one item to fix rather than a few.

A simple wind storm can shake loose a shingle or two and once it’s missing water will enter your attic. There also might be a plugged vent or a flashing incorrectly in place. A buyer might not notice these issues but they will definitely come up in a home inspection and the assumption will be moisture issues and a possible deal-breaker. Fix it before a potential buyer assumes the worst.

Each of the 21 affordable and quick fixups that make your home sell higher that you remedy will lead to a better sale price. The more pleased a buyer who’s viewing your home is the better chance they’ll submit an offer and there’s a better chance it’ll be closer to your asking price.

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The author of The 21 affordable and quick fix-ups is Blake King, a Realtor® local to Central Alberta and living in Red Deer. Blake works with Big Earth Realty (A thoughtful real estate company). Blake also hosts Central Alberta’s hub for real estate news, stats, and information and offers affordable commission home sales combined with creative strategy, experience, and a very powerful marketing program to make your home sell higher. Blake is happy to answer any real estate questions anytime by calling or texting (403) 350-7672.