03/26/2015 11:51 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Essential Spring Home Updates for Sellers

Homeowners are revving up for the spring real estate market and, if you want to get the best offers from buyers, it's imperative that you make your home shine. Depending on your local market, there could be a lot of homes going up for sale. Getting yours in tip-top shape and making a few adjustments or upgrades will ensure that it stands out from the competition. It could make all the difference in whether buyers walk through quickly or stop and stare in awe. Sellers should focus on these essential spring home updates:

1. Do some spring cleaning.

It's time to go over everything in your home -- even things you don't usually touch with the cleaning supplies. Clean everything, including:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Floors
  • Ceiling fans
  • Cabinet tops
  • Linens
  • Walls
  • Attic crawl space
  • Ducts and vents

Whitewash or scrub your walls to remove grime, fingerprints, crayon markings or pet stains. If those don't come off, it might be time for a fresh coat of paint. If your carpets are particularly dirty, you might need to call a carpet cleaning service for a deep steam cleaning. Then tackle the really dirty places like your HVAC. You'll want it performing at top capacity during a walkthrough, so you change filters and have it checked by the pros.

On the outside, remove leaves, branches and any other debris left behind from the snow and ice. Clean up your flower beds and shrubbery, trim back the trees and do a quick mow of the lawn. You can call a professional lawn care service to do all of this for you for about $50 to $260, depending on the extent of work.

Photo courtesy of CNM Architect in Cranford, NJ

2. Get rid of clutter.

Start packing your home before you start showing it. You might need to rent a storage space for unnecessary items until you buy a new place. Buyers don't want to walk into a home that looks lived in. So pack away your winter clothes and get them out of the closet -- this goes for your boots and heavy coats, too.

If you have dishes, toys and small furniture such as end tables, pack them away too. This is also a good opportunity to determine what you want to take to your new place and what will go to a secondhand store or into the trash. When you're done, your home should be almost bare, completely spacious.

Photo courtesy of Blue Iris Staging in San Clemente, CA

3. Stage your home.

Your home should be as appealing to buyers as possible. You want them to envision living in the house. Consider hiring a home stager to assemble your remaining furniture and decor in a way that's appealing and inviting to the widest audience of potential buyers. They sometimes will bring additional decor to help set the mood and tone. The cost to hire a home stager averages between $220 and $520, depending on the size of your home and how much it takes to improve your home for the sale.

4. Call a home inspector.

To expedite the purchase and ease a buyer's fears, why not have a home inspection performed by a local professional ahead of time? This also gives you the opportunity to address any glaring issues that could sink the sale. Some issues that might detract a buyer from your home are:
  • Structural issues around the foundation or basement
  • Electrical wiring or ground-fault circuits posing electrocution hazards
  • Extreme roof damage
  • Health hazards like mold, asbestos, lead or radon
  • Plumbing issues that could lead to flooding

While some small fixes -- leaks in pipes, frayed wires and cracks in the foundation, for example, will not cost much to fix, roof repairs and health hazards will cost hundreds to a little over a thousand dollars and will require professional assistance. Addressing any problems ahead of a sale will make your house more appealing to buyers.

5. Focus on small repairs.

However, don't make too many renovations. While problems uncovered by a home inspector should be addressed in most cases, resist the urge to remodel the entire house right before a sale. You're not going to get a dollar-for-dollar return on what you've done -- not even for the repairs you've made following a home inspector's report. Any additional repairs you make to the house should be on the smaller scale, like:

  • Updating your lighting fixtures
  • Adding new cabinet or door handles
  • Replacing your floors with tiles
  • Painting your walls

These small-scale improvements will add to the appeal of your home without requiring you to sink too much money into projects.

6. Listen to the buyer.

Despite annual trend reports, most homeowners are still interested in granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. This doesn't mean you should replace existing countertops and appliances if you don't have the budget. But, if you do have the time, budget and willingness to work with a kitchen remodeling contractor, make these adjustments. They're expensive, but they are two changes you can make to your kitchen that could increase your house's market appeal.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine