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Before you go knocking down walls, consider your neighborhood and your target buyer, advises Trulia real estate blogger Michael Corbett. “If most homes nearby have tidy, neat kitchens with Formica or tile countertops, then you should too,” he says. “If granite and flagstone seem to be the local flavor, hopefully yours will be similar.”
Don’t over-improve, Corbett cautions. You likely won’t get your money back in the sale. Simple upgrades—faucets, lighting, cabinet pulls—don’t cost a lot and may be enough to give the house a fresh look.
Opening up the kitchen will appeal to new buyers. Remove a wall between the kitchen and dining or living area, or remove extra overhead cabinets that block the view.
And remember, the best way to make your home appealing to buyers costs nothing: clean up and declutter. That includes your medicine cabinets and closets, because buyers will open them. Remove extra furniture to make the rooms seem bigger.
But why wait until you sell to make improvements? Savvy homeowners look for cost-effective upgrades along the way to keep from becoming the neighborhood slacker. If you live in a home built before the mid-1970s, for example, you probably have small closets. That’s a turnoff, says Rockaway, New Jersey, agent Ellen Klein. Even if you can’t expand the closets, you can maximize the space with a good organizing system. And you’ll get to enjoy the added convenience yourself.