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14 fast fixes to help your home sell

Before you call an agent, make sure your house is the best in its class. Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran offers ideas for cheap fixes — from replacing your mailbox to painting your walls white — that deliver big returns.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Before you call the real estate agent, make sure your house is the best in its class! Here are 10 cheap and easy fixes that deliver big returns.

Trim the lawn and green the grass ($20 to $200)Pay a neighbor’s kid to cut the grass ($20), and if you use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on your lawn you’ll see results in just 2 to 3 weeks ($50 to $200 depending on the size of your lawn).

Replace the doorknocker ($50)Replacing the dingy doorknocker with a shiny new one will dress up your front door instantly. Consider a doorknocker with a pineapple, the symbol for hospitality.

Replace your mailbox ($50)You may not even notice how worn out your trusty old mailbox is, but potential buyers will.  Buy a clean and good-looking new mailbox and your home’s curb appeal will immediately improve.

Customize your shelving ($500+)Potential buyers really do look in closets, and if they see yours looking overstuffed and unkempt they’ll assume your home lacks storage space. Put in easy-to-install organizing options from companies like elfa or Ikea.

Paint your walls white (about $50 depending on size of room) You may really have enjoyed the red walls in your living room, but potential buyers won’t. Broaden your home’s appeal, add light and make rooms look bigger by painting them a light white or neutral color.

Spruce up your cabinets ($50 to $500)If your kitchen cabinets are in good shape but looking a little tired, you can revamp the whole room by giving them a coat of bright, white paint. Take it a step further by saving the cabinet boxes and replacing just the doors. Shop for great deals on barely used cabinets and cabinet fronts online through places like Craigslist or ReStore. And if you have cabinets you want to get rid of, contact Habitat for Humanity to see if they need them; they’ll often do the removal at little or no cost to you.

Replace the drawer pulls ($5 apiece)For an even easier kitchen spruce-up, replace dull-looking drawer pulls with stylish new ones.  Your entire kitchen will look brighter and updated!

Buy a new chandelier ($100+, depending on the style you choose)Replace your outdated, grandmotherly-looking lighting fixture with something new and up-to-date. You can find great, inexpensive fixtures at Home Depot or Ikea, or hunt for something cheap and chic on Craigslist or the Apartment Therapy classifieds. Or for the cost of a little elbow grease, dust, clean and shine the one you have!

Replace switch plate covers (50 cents each)Nothing gets dirtier faster or gets overlooked in cleaning more than switch plate covers. Clean, matching plates that coordinate with your walls will make your home look neat and put together and you can replace them all for as little as 50 cents apiece. 

Buy a new toilet seat ($20)Would you want to sit on somebody else’s old toilet seat? Neither would would-be buyers. 

Regrout your tile ($50 to $100)If your bathroom or kitchen tile is in good shape, you can greatly improve the look of the room by simply replacing old, dingy grout. And if you’re reasonably handy, you can do the job yourself in a weekend. You can get good instructions from the DIY Network.

Buy a new showerhead ($20+)You can get a high-performance showerhead that will conserve water and heating costs and still give you a great shower for as little as $20. And if you spend a little more, you can update the look of your shower with a fancy stainless-steel “rain” showerhead with an oversize face.

Add new baseboards ($200 to $500)You can do this yourself in a weekend even if you’re only minimally handy, and your rooms will look elegant and finished for $200 to $500 for a typical living room, depending on the type of baseboard you use.

Add a tile backsplash ($100+)Add a backsplash in your kitchen or a tile accent in your bath and the whole room will look hip and modern. And because you’re covering a relatively small space, this is a project that can really give you a big bang for your buck! For the easiest and least expensive option, try ACP Peel & Stick Tiles, a nonceramic subway tile with a metallic finish starting at $20/square foot. You don’t even need tiling tools for installation — just cut them with a utility knife — and the tiles are water- and heat-resistant and easy to clean with soap and water.

Real estate expert and TODAY contributor Barbara Corcoran is the founder of real estate business The Corcoran Group. To find out more, visit her Web site.