If you are dissatisfied with your home but can’t afford to do a full remodel right now, it might be worth looking at tips real estate agents offer people planning to sell. Many of their ideas could make you happier even if you’re staying put indefinitely.

Suggestions range from painting to small-scale restructuring to more involved projects such as replacing fixtures and working on landscaping. Several changes recommended by real estate agents cost nothing except elbow grease and habit shifts. Others require modest financial outlay that owners can often plan to recoup over time. 

Some of their top tips include:


Make a good first impression — not just on others, but on yourself as well. Being able to overlook some flaws in your house is probably a good thing, but if you love what you see each time you approach your front door, that’s even better. Effective changes might include repainting your door, adding a planter or two, putting in more inviting porch lighting, washing windows and getting rid of the accumulation of junk that tends to pile up near entryways and porches. 

Trimming scraggly shrubbery, keeping walkways clear and replacing the mailbox and/or doormat can also serve to make coming home a more peaceful and satisfying experience on a daily basis. If exterior paint is faded or peeling and funds allow, a fresh coat of paint (on top of thoroughly prepped surfaces) can also work wonders.


Keep your kitchen clean and bright. Commonly the center of activity, this space often sets the tenor for the overall feel of your home. Be sure horizontal surfaces stay as uncluttered as possible and everything gets wiped down frequently. Good lighting is essential. 


Don’t neglect your bathrooms. Like it or not, everyone spends a substantial amount of time in these spaces, and with ample time to look around. It’s worth the effort to keep them fresh, inviting and functional.


 Make sure to do routine maintenance. Dripping faucets, sticky sliding doors, bum outlets, slow drains, missing caulk, torn screens and the like can be ignored for a while, but they may gradually drive you crazy. Be sure it is easy to open your shades and cabinets. If your curtains are shabby and you can’t replace them just now, consider removing them and letting in more light while you decide what you want to use there next.


Create spaces inside the house where everything you see gives you pleasure. Even if these are initially small oases in the midst of chaos, centers like these give homeowners vital spots to relax and recharge. If you have a family, consider establishing toy zones (and toy-free zones) and maintain those boundaries. Store — or dispose of! — items you have never liked but keep year-in and year-out because they’ve been in the family for so long. Make sure each item has a straightforward place to be put away when you’re not using it.


Do a quick home evaluation periodically. Look around as objectively as possible to see if there are small tweaks you can make that would bump up your quality of life. People often don’t think to list and then tackle eminently do-able changes until they are already in the process of selling to get into a better space, which is too bad, since it might well be possible for them to upgrade without going anywhere. 

For example, if a house feels cramped, clearing away clutter, painting walls and woodwork with clear, light colors and hanging a strategic mirror or two can create the illusion of more space. A little foresight and creativity can make a big difference. Keeping up with routine maintenance not only keeps you happy while you’re there, but also makes your house considerably more sellable if you do ultimately choose to move.


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