6. Put appliances under warranty: To give buyers more confidence in a home's appliances, Phipps recommends that sellers put them under warranty. Sellers can buy home warranties—which cover repair and replacement costs for many home appliances—from several different firms. "If I have got a 40- or 50-year-old house, it is going to be harder for me to persuade a first-time home buyer with a limited amount of cash to buy it because they will say, 'Well, what happens if something breaks down?' " Phipps says. "If I have a home warranty … that solves that problem."
7. Make energy-efficient home improvements: Increasing your home's energy efficiency is another good way to make your property more attractive to buyers. Many such improvements—such as new windows or better insulation—come with federal tax benefits. In addition, a growing awareness of human impact on the environment means homes that have these upgrades will stand out from other listings. "If you have some cruddy old windows that are leaky and just not energy efficient, you can put in new replacement windows and take advantage of the tax credit," Zuch says. "It's not green washing. Those are really practical things that make your house more sellable." Many contractors will conduct a so-called energy audit free of charge to determine where efficiencies can be created, Zuch says. "If your house is more energy efficient—you use less energy, it's better insulated—it is going to be more desirable for a potential buyer," he says.
8. New light fixtures: Replacing old or broken light fixtures with new ones can also be a low-cost way to add value, Lupberger says. Installing a nice new light fixture in the foyer near the home's entrance can be a particular benefit, he said, because it can make a strong first impression on would-be buyers. Creating an inviting feeling in the interior entryway, in turn, helps get home shoppers more interested in checking out the rest of the property. "I am not going to redo the house," Lupberger says. "But I can update those features so that somebody can walk in and say, 'You know what? [the homeowners] took care of this.'"
9. New stove in the kitchen: While some homeowners might think the only way to jazz up a dated kitchen is a full-on remodeling job, Lashinsky recommends a much less costly alternative: buying a new stove. "If there is an updated stove in the kitchen, it is amazing how that draws people in, and people say, 'Wow, this kitchen is going to be great,' " Lashinsky says. While upscale homeowners may have to shell out for top-of-the-line appliances to maintain their kitchen's décor, others can budget well under $1,000 for the upgrade. "You can get a really nice stove for $700 or $800," Lashinsky says. "You can basically have the look of a new kitchen that is going to be really enticing to someone—and what you are really trying to do is differentiate your house from somebody else's."
Property owners in neighborhoods where most homes have granite countertops can consider making this upgrade as well. But Lupberger says the project makes sense only for homeowners with extremely dated kitchens that are going to serve as a serious impediment to finding a buyer. A real estate agent with experience in the local market can help you determine whether or not the upgrade is essential, he says.
10. Freshen up the bathrooms: Getting rid of mildew stains on the bathroom caulking can boost a home's appeal as well. Such stains "scream, 'These people haven't taken care of this house. It's going to be a money pit,' " Zuch says. Use a razor blade to remove the old caulk, and replace it with new, mildew-resistant caulk, Zuch says. And rather than remodeling the entire space, homeowners can reinvigorate a worn-down bathroom by replacing cracked sinks, Lupberger says.