Is selling your house stressing you out? Real estate experts weigh in on the tasks you should never skip.
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Is selling your house stressing you out? Real estate experts weigh in on the tasks you should never skip.

Selling your home can be one of life's most stressful events. You want it to sell quickly—and preferably, above the asking price. And, would a bidding war be too much to ask? However there are things you need to do in advance to boost your home's selling price. Here are nine home improvement projects our experts recommend tackling before putting your house on the market.

Apply a fresh coat of paint

Unless you've recently painted it, your home could use a fresh coat of paint. Over time, walls becoming dingy after experience a lot of wear and tear. Christopher Totaro, an agent at Warburg Realty, says he's always surprised when a seller looks at him sideways and says, "You want me to do what?" But he explains that painting the home is a must. "You have lived in your home for 10 years, have four kids, and you expect to bring top dollar, so yes, I am suggesting that you paint." Totaro says painting the home makes it stand out from other properties and can even help to reduce the time on the market.

Since you see the house every day, it's easy to overlook problems that may jump out to buyers. "Often, a wall can be scraped or peeling, and sometimes, previous water damage was left unattended," explains Mihal Gartenberg, another agent at Warburg Realty.

Also, if you have accent walls, she recommends painting them white. "Let the buyer imagine the color they want the wall to be," she says.

Wash the windows

Another part of your home that may be overlooked: your windows. "If you've ever replaced the windshield in your car after driving for a decade viewing through a dirty, pitted windshield, that new glass makes it seem like you are driving a new car, and the same applies to the windows in your home."

You may need a power cleaner for the window exteriors. In fact, Ryan Dalzell, a realtor with the Dalzell Group in San Diego, recommends calling in the pros. "Having windows professionally cleaned prior to showing the house will help bring in natural light and allow buyers to take in any view the property offers."

Do a deep clean

Do and deep clean of your house and do it right, recommends Dennis Hsii, co-founder and realtor at Highland Premiere Real Estate in Los Angeles. A true deep clean means grabbing a ladder to remove the dust collected on ceiling fan blades and on hanging picture frames, all the way down to the baseboards. Clean the interior and surroundings of your oven, and your refrigerator should sparkle.

Declutter

Another project that costs nothing but pays big dividends is doing a room-by-room decluttering, according to Dalzell. Every buyer loves going into model homes because they are perfectly staged. Just clearing off countertops, boxing up extra picture frames and decorations, and thinning out some furniture will make rooms appear bigger and allow the buyer to imagine their own furniture in the living spaces. 

When decluttering, don't forget about the pets. "Just as sellers would be advised to minimize the effect of young children's toys strewn about the home, they should do the same with pets and their accessories," says Gartenberg. 

Pump up the curb appeal

Landscaping is the first impression a potential buyer has of your home. Your local garden center can provide expert advice for inexpensive seasonal plants and ground cover ideas. In fact, you can get a lot of "wow" factor with minimal effort, says Hsii. 

Try putting fresh mulch around plants, reseeding the bare patches on the lawn, and add some colorful flowers to the garden beds. Remember: curb appeal sets the buyers' expectations for what they'll see inside the house.

RELATED: 14 Smart Curb Appeal Ideas for Your Most Welcoming Home Yet

Address pests

A project that sellers sometimes overlook is pest control, warns Gartenberg. If there are signs of pest in your home, clean them up then  call a pest control company to take care of the project. Sellers will want to know where the major pest issues and telling them that you are already on top of the issues is a good start.

Upgrade your cabinets

Since the largest items in a kitchen are the cabinets, refreshing them is a great way to update your space, says Pamela O'Brien, principal designer at Pamela Hope Designs in Houston. "Options range from simply painting or staining cabinets, to replacing the doors and drawers with a new style. For a very budget-friendly refresh, scrub your cabinets and polish them with a cabinet restorer. Finish them off with new hardware to update your look."

Daren Herzberg, a licensed associate real estate broker and co-founder of the Babst + Herzberg Team at Compass in NYC, agrees that refreshing a cabinet can give a new look without a major remodel. "By just repainting cabinet fronts and replacing hardware, the kitchen can look largely redone without any real construction." If the cabinet style itself is outdated, consider replacing just the fronts, which is much more cost effective than brand-new cabinets.

Add a backsplash

A new backsplash is a smart way to update a dated kitchen. "A backsplash is often overlooked, but can be a very impactful part of the design palette for a kitchen," says Herzberg. The average backsplash is 30 square feet and nice new tile can be had for a minimal cost that can provide a huge aesthetic upgrade to an older kitchen.

"The main purpose of a backsplash is to protect your walls from grease and other stains while you are cooking, but why not have some fun with it?" says Lanna Ali-Hassan, owner and principal designer of Beyond the Box Interiors in Washington, DC. Subway tile in unexpected patterns and contrasting grout can keep it classic, while infusing a little more personality.