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What to fix before putting a house up for sale

 Bill Cary,


If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, kitchen and bathroom renovations remain the best projects for upping the value of your home, according to a new survey by Consumer Reports.

If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market — and some of the numbers point to a strong spring market —kitchen and bathroom renovations remain the best projects for upping the value of your home, according to a new survey by Yonkers-based Consumer Reports.

Of the 300 licensed real estate agents surveyed, 53 percent said the kitchen is among the most important rooms to have in good shape before selling. Forty-two percent said the same about bathrooms.

When it comes to timing, the surveyed agents said the best time to sell a home is during the second quarter of the year (April through June), with April being the single best month.

Kitchen fixes

To upgrade your kitchen, you don’t have to spend a fortune adding an island, tearing down walls or buying fancy stone countertops. Fixing little things in the kitchen — cabinets that don’t close, leaky faucets, stains on the floor, burn marks on the counter — can go a long way to avoid turning off potential buyers, according to the survey.

For a few hundred dollars, you can swap out the existing kitchen cabinet hardware for something more stylish, paint the room, and add new curtains or shades.

If your kitchen is more than 15 to 20 years old, a $5,000 budget might make sense, to get new stainless-steel appliances and new countertops and floors — try DIY-friendly vinyl and laminate.

Freshen up bathrooms

Again, little things like regrouting tile floors and caulking the tub can go a long way, according to the survey. Swap out old light fixtures and tired mirrors. Buy new towels and shower curtains. Replace anything with stains. Leftover laminate from the kitchen can help update a bathroom vanity.

Got a bigger budget? Add a handsome new toilet that’s quiet and more water efficient.

Paint selectively

Of the surveyed agents, 16 percent said interior painting is an important element in fostering the sale of a home. Except in unusual cases, that does not mean repainting the entire house. Concentrate on one or two rooms, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.

Cover up brightly colored rooms with neutral whites, off-whites and soft grays. You don’t want potential buyers walking away from your house remembering nothing but the purple master bedroom.

Clean up and declutter

“Nothing drives away would-be buyers faster than clutter, grime, and the weird smells that accompany a messy home,” according to the Consumer Reports survey.

You also want to de-personalize your home by taking down family photos and other personal effects. Buyers want a clean, neutral space that they can imagine living in.

Depending on your hoarding tendencies, you may want to hire a professional organizer. They need one to three months getting your house ready for sale, at a cost of $600 to $2,500, according to the survey.

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