10 Low-Cost Ideas To Help You Sell Your Home

For many homeowners, the inability to afford an expensive remodel or update interferes with listing their home confidently, or even at all. But it’s not always the major renovations which catch buyers’ attention – the finer details can be equally important. Consider this list of affordable tips to sell your home before hanging up your for-sale sign.

1.    Improve Your Curb Appeal

They don’t call it “curb appeal” for nothing. Simply improving the functionality and look of your home’s exterior and landscaping can serve as a great first impression for potential home buyers.

Make sure your gutters are up to snuff by checking for loose parts or clogs. You also want to be sure there are no broken or missing flashing materials, which help prevent leaks behind your gutters. Check that your garage door is in working condition and that none of your home’s window shutters are crooked or dangling. Lastly, mowing the grass and trimming up your hedges are other easy ways to spruce up your yard.

Estimated Costs

Completely replacing your home’s gutters can be expensive, so you’ll want to replace parts if possible. A 10-foot gutter starts at around $6, with downspouts starting closer to $8.

Garage doors can cost as much as $1,000 on the high end, but you can get a decorative garage door hardware kit for as little as $19. And if you or a loved one are particularly handy, much of the mechanics behind fixing a garage door can quickly be DIY’d.

2.    Make That Front Door (And Doorbell) Stand Out

When it comes to life and open houses, we all know that first impressions matter. Although many of us don’t always enter our homes through the front door, prospective buyers will.

“While the REALTOR® is fiddling with the lockbox, trying to get the door open, the buyer is standing there looking around,” says stager and interior designer Deborah Goode of A Goode Start Decorating and Home Staging in Annapolis, Maryland.

So be sure to update your home’s front door and walkway by fixing any cracks or peeling with spackle and a fresh coat of paint. You should also double check that your front door’s locks and doorbell are all in working order so that your home seems move-in ready.

Estimated Costs

Exterior paints typically start at $30 per gallon and doorbells are $10 and up.

3.    Evaluate Every Entrance

As important as your front door is, it’s not the only one that will get the once-over.

“Doors offer a huge bang for the buck visually,” says Chris Neumann, director of operations for Pyramid Builders in Annapolis. Neumann suggests that homeowners consider updating their interior doors, or at the least, replace their door hinges and knobs. “And replace any junky bi-folds with double-swing or heavier solid-core doors,” he adds.

Estimated Costs

Bronze door hinges can cost $3; solid-core, unfinished pine interior doors start at $99.

4.    Look Down

As buyers walk in and remove their shoes or wipe their feet, their eyes will be drawn to your home’s flooring. While blemishes such as stained carpets, raggedy rugs and scratched floors could be enough to put off a potential buyer, they’re easy fixes that you can tackle before an open house.

Estimated Costs

Carpet steamers can be rented starting at just $60, and while the price of area rugs varies greatly, your local hardware or furniture store will most likely carry them starting at around $100.

5.    Select The Right Scent

If you’ve ever wandered around the candle aisle at the grocery store, then you know how compelling or comforting different scents can be. Be sure to eliminate any nose agitators and avoid the dreaded question: “What is that smell?”

If you have any pets, make sure that their necessities are clean – for cats this means clean litter boxes. For any small caged animals, such as hamsters or guinea pigs, this means clean cages. And if you’re living in your home during the selling process, make sure that your pets are bathed before any showings – just to ensure that potential buyers won’t mistakenly associate your home with a wet dog smell or any other unsavory odor.

You should also clean out your refrigerator – people may be nosy! – and banish the kids’ stinky sports equipment to the basement or garage.

Once you’ve gotten rid of any potential for house stink, choose a scent to you love to use throughout your home. Whether you use a candle, room spray or plug-in, just be sure not to go overboard combining different scents or by using too much fragrance.

Estimated Cost

Scented candles can cost $10; plug-in odor eliminators start at $17.

6.   Quick-Clean And Spot Treat

Walls are an excellent canvas, but they also clearly display age, dirt, indifference, even foundation issues. Fix any scuff marks, nail holes and paint cracks. “Remove all peeling wallpaper and repaint in neutrals to maximize the natural light,” says interior designer Jana Abel, president of J. Abel Interiors in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Estimated Cost

Spackling paste starts at $18; interior paint costs $28 a gallon and up.

7.    Have A Place For Everything

When it comes to showings or open houses, potential buyers are there to look at your home and imagine what it’d be like living there – which can be hard with clutter reminding them of the current homeowners. “I always advise my clients to take out at least a third of what they have in closets,” Goode says. Make sure anything that’s not on display — shoes, coats, papers, pots, pans — is tucked away and neatly organized.

Estimated Cost

Attractive bins and baskets cost $20 and up; basic shelving systems start at $200.

8.    Check Your Drawers

The same way you wouldn’t want to get caught with an ill-working doorbell or garage door, you don’t want a potential buyer opening a cabinet or drawer and having it stick or get jammed. So, if you have a lopsided utensil drawer that you’ve learned to live with, just know that it’s something your buyers might not be able to.

Although new cabinetry can be pricey, simply fix any bent drawer tracks and slides, or replace dangling pulls and tighten screws and handles.

Estimated Costs

Basic rail-drawer-track kits start at $3; decorative cabinet knobs start at $4 each.

9.    Make Your Appliances Shine

While it may seem like a no-brainer to clean your home before welcoming people over, the kitchen is a space which oftentimes gets overlooked. Remember to scrub down your refrigerator, microwave, oven, stovetop, sink, and any other appliance included in the sale of your home. Buyers will want shiny new appliances, not evidence of last week’s tuna casserole.

Estimated Cost

Most cleaning products start at $4; elbow grease is free.

10. Finish With Some Finishes

Bathroom gut jobs can be pricey, but replacing finishing elements such as faucets, showerheads, towel racks and toilet paper holders can significantly brighten a room. “If you have polished chrome faucets or shower valves, you can pick up any chrome accessories and they will match, unlike satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze,” says Abel. New shower curtains, hand towels and bathmats will also help the room look updated and clean, she adds.

Estimated Cost

Showerheads can cost $40 and up; bath towels start at $10; faucets are $70 and up.


How Can I Sell My House Fast?

This day and age, most home buying business occurs online. So, make a good and lasting impression by posting high-quality photos of a clean and depersonalized home.

Also be sure to take photos during the daytime, when lighting is the brightest and most natural, and consider borrowing a friend’s DSLR camera or even hiring a photographer for those sharp and professional looking photos. Check out our article on real estate photography for more tips on how to stand out in the online market.

Should I Stage My House?

While home staging is usually advantageous for selling your home, it’s not always a necessity. Check out our article on home staging to see what works for you.


Women Real Estate Investors Build Long-Term Wealth as Landlords

Ethan Roberts is a real estate writer, editor and investor. He’s a frequent contributor to, and his work has been featured on and He was one of five contributing editors to and has also written for and He’s been investing in real estate since 1995 and a Realtor since 1998. This post is the second in Roberts’ ongoing series about women in real estate. 

As we saw in the first part of this series, real estate investing is no longer exclusively a man’s world: More and more women are getting involved in real estate investing as a viable way of generating income. Some women, like 53-year-old Leticia who I profiled last month, are “flipping” (buying to resell quickly) homes and making profits on their capital in just a few months.

But other women are approaching real estate investing from a different angle. Their strategy is to buy properties, fix them up and then hold onto them for the long term, renting to tenants who choose to rent rather than buy.

Rental Home Portfolios Funding Retirement
Barilynn, a 57-year-old woman from Jacksonville, Florida, has been buying single-family foreclosures since 1995. She hires contractors to rehab the houses and then turns them into long-term rentals. She now boasts an astonishing portfolio of 23 single-family rental homes, while working a full-time job that demands cross-country travel almost every week.

Her portfolio is noteworthy in that 17 of the 23 homes, originally ranging in price from $35,000 to $120,000, are now completely paid off. That means the income generated from most of her properties is no longer reduced by mortgage payments, so she can use that cash to pay down the mortgages on the remaining properties faster.

Facing Challenges Head On
At the beginning of her career, Barilynn says she faced several obstacles due to her gender. For one, the first few male real estate brokers she contacted wouldn’t take her seriously as an investor.

“One listing broker ignored me when I inquired about his investment property listings,” she says. “After that I found a wonderful female broker, and I bought 12 properties through her until she passed away.”

Another challenge was that contractors initially tried to take advantage of her by charging her more for materials and labor.

“I had to learn more about home repairs so I wouldn’t get ripped off,” she says. “But what was even worse was that none of these contractors would let me open an account or give me credit. I can’t always be there to pay by check at the time of the job, so it helps if they bill me later. In fact, one guy said he couldn’t give me credit, and then offered to do just that for a male friend of mine!”

Her third biggest challenge has been, surprisingly, with other women.

“Some female tenants try to take advantage of me and treat me differently than they do my male partner when he collects the rents,” she says. “They try to appeal to me as a female by talking about how difficult it is for them as single parents to pay rent on time. I just tell them that I’m sorry, but I still have to collect the rent!”

Barilynn wants to buy a few more rentals so that she can maximize her income stream when she retires. Her biggest challenge recently, due to the high level of interest in foreclosures, has been to find good deals on properties that will yield a solid return on investment.

I asked her what advice she would give to other women who would like to begin investing in real estate.

“Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it, or that tenants are too much of a hassle,” she advises. “I will live a much better lifestyle in retirement because I didn’t listen to the naysayers. Also, don’t invest in real estate unless you have some cash reserves, in case you need to make repairs or file an eviction.”

Women Also Pursuing Commercial Real Estate Investing
Women aren’t confining themselves to residential income-producing properties. An increasing number of women own and manage commercial real estate.

Gerry, 83, has owned and managed a 26,000-square-foot office building in San Diego, California, since her husband passed away in 1990. The building has provided her with a major source of income — supplementing a minimal amount of Social Security payments and stock dividends — that has allowed her to enjoy a relatively high standard of living over the past 24 years. Drawing on her undergraduate degree in business from the University of California at Berkeley, she likes working with tenants and the satisfaction that comes from having a successful business.

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced was probably weathering the recession in the early 1990s right after my husband died,” she says. “Vacancies were up, as were expenses. These days, my biggest challenge is finding competent maintenance and repair people.”

I asked her what advice she would have for women who are interested in investing in commercial real estate.

“You need to do a fair amount of research into surrounding areas, traffic patterns, favorable locations and availability of tenants for your particular facility,” she advises. “And if you don’t have a building manager, you should have some knowledge of accounting.”

How to Get Started
If you’re a woman who would like to get started in real estate investing, either in residential properties like Barilynn or commercial properties like Gerry, consider joining a local real estate investing club, where you can network with other investors — male and female. There are also clubs designed specifically for women real estate investors across the country. One way to find these groups is through a site like

Just remember: It’s 2014. Women real estate investors no longer have to feel invisible, be ignored or get ripped off by service providers. If men can be successful real estate investors, and make a good living or prepare for a comfortable retirement, women can too!

This information was originally published on, LLC, the nation’s leading online real estate marketplace. Founded in 2008, the company has sold nearly $20 billion in assets since 2010. has more than 900 employees and offices in Irvine and Silicon Valley, California as well as offices in Atlanta, Austin, Denver, Miami and Newport Beach. Visit us at, or on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.