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5 budget-friendly ways to update your home for today's buyers

Newsflash: people who can visualize the potential of a home space are rare.

When your home is on the market for sale, only a select few can imagine its potential. If someone walks through your home and views it literally (as many do), they may not get past your furnishings, choice of décor or clutter stuffed in the closet – making it hard for them to envision living in a home that is not up to their style standards. The last thing you want prospects thinking is, ‘the 1980s called and they want their wallpaper back,’ and other negative thoughts about your dated dwelling.

When prepping your home for sale, it’s important to put any personal attachment or nostalgic thoughts you may have aside. While this may seem difficult, it’s more productive (and could be more financially rewarding in the end) to put yourself in the shoes of potential buyers. What would they want in a new home? What can you do to make your current home feel more like a blank canvas, ready for new owners? Here are 5 reasonable and financially-friendly fixes you can do to make your space feel more move-in ready and attractive.

1. Fresh Paint

You might think your bright orange bedroom is on trend, but plenty of buyers would beg to differ. Painting is economical and makes a big impact, so it’s smart to prep your home with a soothing, neutral palette. Grays and taupes continue to be popular paint hues, and you would be surprised how many different shades of gray there are: some appear green, others blue, some resemble brown, etc. Also, don’t feel you need to use a different color for each room, as that can appear chaotic and break the visual flow of your space. In our home, we use Clark+Kensington® “Play it Cool” (by Ace Hardware) in the family room, dining room and kitchen. We get compliments all the time and the color changes beautifully from morning light to evening shade. Also, it contrasts beautifully with our bright white ceilings, cabinetry and crown molding for a fresh and inviting look.

2. Interior Moldings

Adding crown molding, trim and baseboards to your home gives it a finished, elegant vibe. This architectural feature is not too expensive, DIY-friendly and makes your home appear more valuable. It also makes boring rooms more visually interesting and screams move-in ready to home buyers. Interior moldings come in simple to complex styles and can be painted or stained different colors. While white is a popular choice, there are some natural wood tones that can help add warmth and a unique feel to any space.

3. Hardwood Floors

This trend is still going strong. Durable, functional and less likely to host allergens, hardwood flooring is a highly-desirable choice. If you are thinking of making the switch from carpet to hardwood, be sure to pick a color and texture that have mass appeal. Some options can come off as too rustic or too unique, which could turn off prospects. Super dark planks show dust and dirt easier while super light planks give a beachy feel, which may not be the look someone else is going for. As for alternate materials on the market, there are numerous laminate and tile flooring options that look like real wood. These choices are often economical and easier to maintain, without losing the stylish appearance of hardwood floors. For any traditional home seekers concerned about a lack of carpeting, they can easily add underfoot comfort and their own personal style with area rugs.

4. Popcorn Ceilings

Many homes built during the 1930s to 1990s have acoustical or textured ceilings, also referred to as popcorn ceilings. While these types of ceilings are unattractive and date your home, they are also a health concern to modern home buyers because they can contain asbestos. According to, “because of its fiber strength and heat resistance, asbestos has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire retardant.” However, the use of asbestos was banned in 1977 because its particles (when demolished or disturbed) can get into the air and cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. That’s why the EPA requires special precautions in removing acoustical ceilings from homes. Learn more here. Sourcing an approved company to remove your popcorn ceilings is a wise choice to win over buyers concerned about the appearance of your home’s ceilings, plus the negative health effects of asbestos.

5. Kitchen Cabinets

If your cabinets are from a past decade, it’s probably a good idea to give them an up-to-date appearance. You’ll hear cabinet experts mention terms like refacing and refinishing to give cabinetry a face lift versus replacing it entirely. Refacing removes the front or visible surfaces of your cabinetry and replaces them with new materials entirely. Refinishing keeps all of the visible surfaces of your existing cabinetry intact, but strips down the current finish for fresh painting, staining or antiquing. Refinishing is typically cheaper than refacing, but both options are cheaper than completely demolishing your cabinets and ordering new ones. Also, don’t forget to add new hardware for a polished look – it’s the jewelry of your kitchen.

If you need more real estate advice to get your home listed and sold in San Diego County, email or call Michael Biondo at 619-993-9559 to get started.

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