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 the perfect condition. To make your home sell higher you have to please potential buyers. Most people’s homes are lived in and if you’re planning to sell there’s usually some work to do.

Imagine each of these items above unchecked reducing your sale price by $2000. It adds up and each of the items above can be done at very little cost. If you’re going to sell your home, do it right and earn more.

Understand the differences

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

A shiny exterior and especially entrance

It’s important to keep this shiny. Debris builds up any time of year and even dirt in the edges of the threshold can discourage a buyer. 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 imperfection fixes are low cost. 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 are more.

*Following this list is a link where you can download the Roadmap to Selling Your Home – your step by step guide to a successful and profitable sale.

Yard care and 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 flowerbeds and landscaping add. 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 without even basic landscaping will seller lower.

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.

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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 can and are 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 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 a buyer assumes it’s where there was a leak. And remember how suspected leaks make a buyer 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.

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.

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 please don’t just paint over them. Painting over loose paint or cracked wood might only draw attention to how well they haven’t been maintained. If they need paint, prepare them properly, it’s worth the effort.

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 like 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

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.

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’s related to a structural issue. Most buyers assume one small issue is a clue to a bigger problem.

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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 a fence is ugly looking, paint it. It’s worth it and it’s fun for the family in the summer. If your fence is leaning anywhere, has boards missing, or not attached properly, fix that too. It’s probably a small inexpensive repair that could save you thousands.

One broken post causing a fence to lean will make a buyer think a new fence is needed and discourage a possible 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 connect 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. So many times I’ve heard of homeowners finding a leak only when it shows up on their ceiling but they are better to catch it much sooner.

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 you take care of 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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Blake King Realtor

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 creativity, experience and a very powerful marketing program. Blake is happy answering any real estate questions anytime by calling or texting (403) 350-7672.