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The Best Affordable Home Upgrades According to a Realtor

A man paints a ceiling, a black sputnik light hangs above a bed, and a woman places clothes in a storage bin.
Wagner/Dellemade/Lifewit

Selling your home can be a daunting experience. Not only are you likely shopping for a new one at the same time you’re selling your previous home, but you, of course, want to get the most real estate bang for your buck.

Making affordable, easy home upgrades is a great way to increase its value. However, choosing which upgrades to make can be a task in itself. There are, obviously, a lot of options.

LifeSavvy spoke with Kristen Skebe, a realtor and team leader with The Colony Group at Engel&Völkers Atlanta, about the best upgrades to make on a budget that will also give you the biggest impact.

“When buyers are in the market for a home, they typically want a move-in ready space,” Skebe said. “However, we know that is not always possible. That is why, when prepping to sell your home, you want to make an impact on as much of the space as possible so the buyer feels they have less to do upon move-in.”

If you’re looking to sell and want to ensure you get the best value for your home, consider these realtor-recommended upgrades.

Refresh Paint

A man paints a ceiling, and a woman paints a wall.
Wagner

If you’ve ever sold a home, the need to paint won’t come as a surprise. That doesn’t mean it’s not an important tip, though. After all, there’s a reason it’s such a popular recommendation.

According to Skebe, appealing to a mass of buyers is the most important part of selling your home. Essentially, the more people interested in your home, the better. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a neutral space where buyers can picture themselves.

Wagner SMART Paint Roller

Make reaching those upper levels easier with an extended handle roller.

Skebe recommended a light grey or white that will give your home a brighter and lighter look. She also added you should be sure to touch up baseboards and doors if needed.

As for budget concerns, this is an upgrade you can do yourself. Save money by rolling up your sleeves, but if you have a bit of extra cash, hiring professionals can ensure the best job possible, and it can alleviate sellers’ stress.

Replace Light Fixtures

A black sputnik light is above a bed, and a black ceiling fan hangs above a living room.
Dellemade/Portage Bay

Light fixtures are one of the first things a buyer will notice, and as such, it’s a smart switch to make before going on the market.

“With constant sales at Home Depot and sites like Wayfair you can transform an old, dated light fixture into a trendy modern piece,” said Skebe. “With the cost of light fixtures and fans being below $250, it is a great way to update a space on a budget.”

Dellemade Modern Sputnik Chandelier

Sputnik fixtures offer a contemporary look.

She pointed to matte black options for a fun and updated design and also recommended taking down old ceiling fans and replacing them with new, more modern options.

If your home doesn’t already have them, ceiling fans might be one of the most important upgrades you can make. Not only do they serve as lighting, but they can also help potential buyers cut down on energy costs. The fixtures help provide cool air in summer and circulate heat during winters.

Portage Bay Hugger 52 Matte Black West Hill Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are a great return on investment.

Take Time to Declutter

A woman places clothing in a storage bin, and three cloth bins sit in a closet.
Lifewit/Decomomo

No one likes a cluttered home, and that includes a buyer. If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly upgrade, look no further than decluttering.

“A buyer has a very hard time envisioning themselves in a home when they can’t see beyond the seller’s stuff,” said Skebe.

Lifewit Large Capacity Storage Organizer

Store items you plan to keep out of sight.

To get started on this project, Skebe said to create three piles: donate or sell, trash, and keep. Then, steadily go through all of your belongings and whittle down the items you no longer use and are taking up too much space. Not only will this help buyers see themselves in the space, but it’ll make packing and moving easier.

DECOMOMO Storage Bins

Store your belongings in decorative bins for a clean look.

Finally, after you’ve decluttered, it’s time to clean. Skebe said to pay attention to even seemingly small details like baseboards, the grout in your shower, and dust on your fans.

“Buyers like to feel like they have a fresh new start in your home,” said Skebe. “You don’t want a dirty space to taint their vision of the space.”


Whether you’re considering going on the market or are already in the process of selling, these simple home upgrades will have a major impact. But Skebe has one more bit of advice.

“You need an experienced agent to help guide you through the listing process,” Skebe said. “Every home is different and an agent will help advise you on what your home needs to drive the most interest in your market.”

Roll up your sleeves, pick your new fixtures, and get to work so you can have the best selling experience possible.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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