By Donna Fuscaldo

Even in a housing market where inventory is low, buyers still want a move-in ready house and are willing to pay more for one that’s turn-key. Sellers can increase their listing price and decrease the time their home sits on the market just by doing a few home improvement projects, experts say. But not all projects carry the same return.

“A big mistake a lot of home sellers make is they upgrade the kitchen thinking they will make so much more money on the house. But the rest of the house still needs upgrading or repairs,” says Michael Corbett, Trulia’s real estate expert. Home sellers have to look at repairs as a whole rather than a sum of parts, he says.

For a kitchen renovation, Corbett says the return on the investment is typically 78 percent, which may not make financial sense for all homeowners. However, if other improvements and upgrades are made, the seller is more likely to recoup the money spent, and then some.

The home improvement priority list depends on the seller’s time frame. For those looking to list in the next couple of months, they can take on bigger projects than those looking to sell in a few weeks. However, every seller can increase the interest and price tag of their home by investing in increasing the curb appeal.

“Buying a house or selling is kind of like dating,” says Corbett. “A pretty face gets them in the door.” Since a buyer can make a decision about a home without stepping out of the car, real estate experts say the landscaping has to be pristine, the front door painted and the windows cleaned. But it shouldn’t stop there.

Brad Officer, a Re/MAX real estate agent in Jacksonville, Fla., says sellers shouldn’t overlook the garage. “Have the floors painted with garage floor epoxy. It’s amazing how many people comment on a clean crisp garage with a painted floor.”

He adds that removing the window screen and cleaning the frames can also boost curb appeal. “Most window screens darken a home and trap dirt. Removing them and cleaning all windows before the home has been photographed will give it a much brighter appearance, inside and out.”

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Small Home Improvements With Big Returns for Sellers

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