Whether it’s a brand-new listing or last year’s listing that’s still languishing on the market, these updates from Doora Designs’ Antoinette Fargo will make it look like new.

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This time last year, the market was so lively that many listing agents had only to pop a few photos on the MLS and multiple potential buyers would beat a path to the front door. What a difference a year makes. Now, many markets have cooled down and buyers are more discerning about what they’ll accept.

Whether you are working with a seller to get ready for this spring’s market, you have an expired listing you want to reintroduce to the market, or you’re seeing a current listing languish a little longer than it should without any offers, a cost-effective refresh may be just the solution. 

Remember, buyers today are paying more due to higher interest rates, so they’re less likely to feel like taking on an outdated property. When presented with a freshened-up space that’s move-in ready, they’ll be more apt to sit up and take notice.

The updates on this list range from the practically free to those that can be accomplished for a few hundred dollars. Check for these items when you’re walking through during your next listing consultation and use them to formulate a spruce-up plan prior to launch.

1. Spruce up the yard and driveway

Pressure wash walkways, maybe add a skim coat to the driveway, pull weeds from between pavers and plant a few colorful plants. This curb appeal upgrade will say welcome faster than you can at open houses or private showings.

2. Clean the windows

Nothing says “Come in” like a clear view into a beautiful door or front entryway window. It shows you care for the home from the moment someone walks up. In addition, it enhances the views from inside the house so they show at their best.

3. Add a fresh coat of paint

Whether it’s a touch-up on the garage and front door, a new coat on the trim or a neutral color on the interior, make sure things look fresh and clean. This is also the time to check for wood rot on trim work and replace as needed.

4. Paint that dingy old wood

Yes, paint it! The mantle, the banister, the stair risers or that old wood trim around windows and doors. If it is a wood color that cannot be re-stained reasonably, then paint it. It will look fresh and move-in ready for the new buyer, not to mention give the home a complete update.

5. Update door hardware

Change the door hardware on cabinets, entry doors or interior doors. Update with a matte black, gold or brushed nickel and change the feel of the home with a few turns of a screwdriver and as little as a few dollars each.

6. Update faucets

Change out those old kitchen faucets with a gorgeous new faucet from your local hardware store. Some cost as little as $20 and will immediately update any kitchen or bathroom. Re-do them all for a minimal investment and get a huge bang for your buck. Choose matte black, champagne or timeless chrome for a bit of shine.

7. Add a backsplash

Put in a backsplash already! I know, you’ve been meaning to for years. Well, now is the time. For a few dollars per square foot, white subway tile will go a long way to give the buyer an up-to-date feel. Choose a mesh-mounted Carrera mosaic which comes pre-cut and is an easy DIY fix that may take a few hours but will impress everyone who walks through.

8. Replace countertops

Hold on, it doesn’t have to be expensive. A nice butcher block is cost-effective and will completely change a kitchen from old and needing a remodel to “I can live with this” or “I love that” from a buyer. Even a new marble-like laminate will update and modernize in a flash.

9. Update light fixtures

Install new light fixtures or spray paint the old ones. Change that old chandelier out for a nice off-the-shelf fixture that sheds new light into the home. Remember to change the key areas in the main entry, living area, kitchen and bathrooms. If you have an old 80’s fixture, remove the glass, spray paint it and breathe new life into the space. Don’t forget ceiling fans. Spray paint those too, body and blades. Whether all white or a black body with white blades, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

10. Update flooring

Replace the carpet or flooring. If you have the funds, paint and carpet go a long way toward making a space look new and move-in ready. Even an entry grade carpet is better than dirty, dingy stains. Sheet vinyl or peel and stick is better than peeling old mauve vinyl from ’96!

Antoinette Fargo is the co-founder and creative director of DOORA Collective + DOORA Design in Ventura, California.

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