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Selling a house almost always costs the homeowner money. On top of the 5%-6% of the sale price you’ll pay in commission, there can be additional costs including repairs, upgrades, and staging, to name a few. All in, it can cost up to 10% of the price of your house just to sell it. However, by being strategic, it’s certainly possible to focus on the most impactful preparations while getting a house ready to sell on a budget.
Most homes could use a little TLC before being listed. The national average of home repair costs is $12,192. But, you can save on these by doing the following:
Prioritize issues that are “deal breakers” for buyers
Prioritize your repairs by thinking like a buyer. If you were looking to buy your home, what would you want fixed? Some of the costliest repairs include foundation problems, roof repairs, water damage, mold removal, HVAC replacement, electrical rewiring, and termite damage. These can be make-or-break issues for buyers, so focus your efforts here, research top professional contractors, and obtain multiple bids for comparison.
Update your burner grates and drip pans for anywhere from $33 to $300, depending upon the model of your stove and how fancy you want to get.
Work with a top local agent
A top agent in your area can help ascertain what repairs must be done to make the house sellable, what small and affordable repairs can attract buyers, and what repairs are unnecessary for selling your home. You can also obtain a pre-listing inspection, which costs $280 to $400, to help identify what major repairs your home needs.
Top agents add value to your home sale in any number of ways, including developing a great marketing strategy, helping to price your home strategically, and tending to sell homes faster and for more money than average agents.
A note about going FSBO
While some sellers may be tempted to save on agent commission and sell their home “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO for short and pronounced “fizz-bo”), it’s actually an uncommon way to go. The National Association of Realtors 2022 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers reports that only 10% of homes were sold this way in 2022, and half of those sales are to buyers that the sellers already knew.
Homes sold without the assistance of an agent also sell for less on average. In 2022, agent-assisted homes sold for an average of $345,000 in 2022 compared to just $225,000 for FSBO homes.
What’s more, HomeLight data shows that the top 5% of real estate agents sell homes for 10% more than average agents on average. By not working with a top agent or by foregoing an agent altogether, you could be leaving significant money on the table that more than makes up for the amount paid in commission.
Finally, even if you do sell without an agent, you still may end up paying some commission anyway. If the buyer uses an agent, the seller is still generally responsible for the buyer agent’s half of the commission, or roughly 3% of the home sale, paid out of the total 6% paid to the seller.
Prepping the outside for curb appeal
Walk along the front of your home with a critical eye. Does the lawn need to be mowed? Do the shutters need to be repainted or the gutters repaired? Each detail adds up and can increase or decrease a home’s curb appeal. HomeLight’s Top Agents’ Insights report for 2022 finds that, on average, “buyers will pay 7% more for a house with great curb appeal versus a home with a neglected exterior.”
Suzanne Jacobus, who has been selling homes for 39 years, says, “Curb appeal is very important. Make sure there is a clear pathway to the front door. Small details, like clean door knobs and a clean welcome mat, make a good first impression.” Taking the following steps will increase your curb appeal and help you get your house ready to sell on a budget.
Mow the lawn
Cut the front lawn in a neat diagonal criss cross pattern, which can make the yard look more spacious. You can rent a lawnmower for about $20 for four hours or $30 per day. While you’re at it, pull any weeds and add color by either planting or placing pots of flowers in the yard.
Shine the windows
Look for grime or mold around the windows and scrub, scrub, scrub.
Clean and repair your porch
Hide or repair any unsightly areas with decorations, and ensure that the porch is spotless (including the lights by the entryway).
Trim trees and bushes
Power wash and paint
You may also consider painting the exterior since this adds an average of $7,571 to a home’s value. While a professional exterior paint job costs between $3,700 and $9,750, you can choose to DIY the job and pay only for materials. Paint ranges from $20 to $70 per gallon, but you also have to factor in tools and ladders as well as your available time for the task.
Prepping the inside
You can make the inside of your home enticing to buyers with a few moves when you’re getting a house ready to sell on a budget.
In contrast, you can clean the home yourself. Divide the house into sections to ensure that you don’t miss a spot or burn out after one room. It’s easier to tackle this task over the course of a few weeks than in one afternoon.
Also, clean places that you don’t usually scrub, such as on top of the refrigerator, behind the stove, the grout, utility closets, basements, etc. Leave no corner unturned and no spiderweb behind.
Over time, we can become nose-blind to smells. But smells — including from food, pets, smoke, shoes, mold, and clothing — can make buyers eliminate a potential house. To ameliorate smells, scrub hard surfaces, change any air filters, clean the vents, and vacuum all carpets.
Consider investing in a portable air filter, which can range from $15 to $700 or more.
Shampoo your carpets either with professional cleaners or taking it on yourself. Renting a carpet cleaning machine is about $30 per day with the cleaning solution costing $15 to $20. This may be a good option for those wondering how to sell a home on a budget. Consider replacing the carpets if there are numerous visible stains.
Finally, lemon and orange are two subtle scents that make your house smell great, and they are an easy and cheap way to get a house ready to sell on a budget. So, buy some when you’re at the store.
“The most important thing is to declutter,” says Jacobus. She advises to “get rid of extra furniture and things cluttering the countertops, kitchen sink, and bathroom sink.” This means clearing away anything that would distract a buyer from seeing your house as their future home.
Find places for mini-makeovers
Great makeovers can be accomplished with the tiniest of touches. For example, a neutral coat of paint can instantly create an attractive canvas for buyers. Using an all-inclusive bed-in-a-bag, which can be purchased for as little as $40 a set, can give a bedroom a polished look to further help you to get a house ready to sell on a budget.
Staging, marketing, and getting ready for showings
Staging is integral to sell a home on a budget. This is because staging helps buyers envision living in a home with their furniture and creates points of reference for scale. A professional stager costs between $1500-$10,000 while décor rental without a professional stager averages $500-$600 per room. However, you can do it yourself and use your own furniture.
Remember, the most important rooms to stage are the primary bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Add pops of color and textures to the living room, apply the 60-30-10 design rule to any accent bedding, and remove small appliances from your kitchen counters. Also, remove any bulky furniture.
Here are some tips for getting a house ready to sell on a budget.
Hide your personal items
Leave some items out
Eight-two percent of agents report that staging “made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home” while thirty-one percent of agents claimed that staging made a home sell quickly. So, you need some items for buyers to see, and “homey” items such as cookie jars, bars of soap, and green plants are viable options.
Let there be light
Place mirrors in strategic areas to add light and amplify natural light. This can help rooms look larger and less boxy.
Additionally, take down dark curtains. Leave the windows bare or replace dark fabrics with sheer white or cream drapes.
If you have old, dull light fixtures, then change them out and consider warm tone light bulbs to create an inviting atmosphere.
Fresh flowers create a nice smell and can suggest freshness and vitality.
Once you have staged your home, it’s time to take pictures to market your home on websites since 51% of buyers in 2020 found their homes online. You can take the pictures yourself to sell your home on a budget, or you can hire a professional photographer. Photographers charge anywhere from $55-$200 per hour with $100-$125 per hour being the average.
Although the price may seem high, professionals know how to highlight your home’s features, and Jacobus states that you need “to captivate the buyer as early in the marketing process as possible. The longer your house is on the market, the less interest there will be.”
Skip repairs and cleaning and sell as is with a cash offer
If your home has too many repairs to be cost effective or if the process seems like it is overwhelming or too time-consuming, then consider selling your home “as is” with a competitive cash offer on your home. Whatever you choose, know that you have several tools that you can use to sell a home on a budget.
Header Image Source: (Zac Gudakov / Unsplash)
- "How Much Does It Cost To Perform Home Renovations and Repairs?," HomeAdvisor (January 2022)
- "2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers," National Association of Realtors® (November 2022)
- "Top Agent Insights for New Year 2022," HomeLight (January 2022)
- "9 Benefits of Having Natural Lighting in the Home," Shea Homes (September 2021)
- "2022 Cost to Paint the Exterior of a House," Fixr (September 2022)