By Katherine Kopp

Planning to sell your home this year? The low inventory of resale homes in the Triangle may send a lot of potential buyers your way, but there are still many steps you can take in preparation that will enhance your chances of a more rapid sale at a good price.1. Replace or repaint your front door.

You may not think much about your front door, especially if you regularly use another entrance, but a new door makes a great impression on buyers and can yield a more than 80% return on your investment. Simpler, lower-cost projects tend to return greater value. The national average cost for a steel door replacement is $1,230. That’s one of the least expensive projects a homeowner can do, and it ranks highest on the payback scale, returning 101.8% nationally on average. If your front door doesn’t need replacing or you’d rather spend less money, you can simply paint it and replace the hardware for a similar impact. Replacing your garage door recoups approximately 75% of your investment, even more if the door is damaged in any way.

2. Add a deck or patio.

M/I Homes - 2016 Home Design Trends

Photo courtesy of M/I Homes

No matter where you live in the United States, buyers are looking for outdoor living spaces. You can recoup approximately 85% of your investment on a new wood deck. In some areas, brick, slate or stone patios also offer a good return on investment. If you already have attractive outdoor spaces, consider enhancing those areas further with a water feature, an outdoor fireplace or new landscaping.

3. Add more interior space.

Depending on your budget and your goals for your home, an addition of an extra bedroom and bathroom, a finished third floor or basement, or an expanded casual living space can rapidly increase the value of your home. For example, you can generally recoup about 70-75% of your investment in an attic bedroom and that extra space may broaden the appeal of your home.

4. Remodel your kitchen.

Buyers look most carefully at kitchens and bathrooms, so you should too. You can recoup 75% of a minor kitchen remodel and 60-68% of a major kitchen remodel. If you’re selling soon, be careful not to overspend on your kitchen.

Saussy Burbank - 2016 Home Design Trends

Kitchen by Saussy Burbank

You may be able to do one or two things, such as replacing the appliances and painting the cabinets, or just replacing the counters with granite. Nanfer Lopez, manager of KJ Natural Stone in Raleigh, says many of her customers are homeowners and real estate brokers who are interested in adding value to a home without spending a lot of money. “Even level one granite (the least expensive) in the kitchen will help the home sell more quickly,” she says. “Most of our customers choose neutral granite with some dark accents – those are the most versatile colors for countertops.” Lopez recommends that homeowners who plan to stay in their homes for a while choose higher grade granite or consider quartz or quartzite for their countertops.

5. Renew your view.

Buyers are often interested in how your windows look and how energy efficient they are. Whether you’re replacing vinyl or wood-frame windows, you can get a 70-75% return on your investment of new double pane windows. When you’re ready to market your home, be sure to highlight the new windows as a selling point for buyers.

6. Upgrade your lighting.

Today’s buyers like bright, light rooms, so examine your home carefully to see if you need to upgrade existing lighting fixtures or add new ones. You can hire a professional to add some recessed or pendant lights to your kitchen. In living areas and bedrooms, consider replacing outdated overhead lighting fixtures with new ones that match contemporary tastes.

7. Replace your window treatments.

Make sure you’re letting as much natural light as possible into your home. Accent the positive by making sure window treatments don’t hide great views from oversized windows or French doors. Take a look at HGTV to see what kind of affordable window treatments, such as bamboo blinds or Roman shades, might help add a fresh look to your home.

8. Update your bathroom.

While a full, upscale bathroom remodeling project can cost $50,000 or more and may only add less than half that amount to your home’s resale value, you can make cost-effective minor upgrades.

Arthur Rutenberg Homes - Owner's Oasis

Photography by Rob/Harris Productions courtesy of Arthur Rutenberg Homes.

Replace your fixtures and your mirror, repaint the space and you’ll have a space that looks almost new. Redo the caulk around your tub and shower and replace the grout on your tile flooring. Carolina GroutSeal in Raleigh specializes in cleaning or replacing grout and caulk with custom colors which can dramatically improve the appearance of flooring, tubs and showers. “We have a product that removes mold and mildew, restores the grout to its original color and seals it to prevent future problems,” says Tri Ligon, owner of Carolina GroutSeal. “We can match or we can change the color of your grout if decide you want a different look,” he says. Ligon and his crew work with a number of area real estate agents and brokers to update clients’ homes in preparation for putting them on the market. You can also consider changing out your sink and vanity and replacing or retiling a tub or shower. If your tub is older and not in good shape, you may be able to have it resurfaced rather than replace it for a less expensive home improvement.

9. Replace your siding.

If your home’s exterior needs a major makeover, you can typically recoup 70% to up to 90% of your investment by replacing the siding. Data from the National Association of Realtors in 2015 showed that manufactured stone veneer, a new trend for exterior siding, is expected to recoup 92.2% of its cost nationally, on average. Replacing your siding with new fiber cement typically recoups about 85-90% of its cost.

10. Organize your closets.

High on the list of priorities for today’s buyers is adequate storage. If your home lacks big closets or has too few storage spaces, you can increase their efficiency with a new built-in closet system or add your own removable closet organizers to highlight the space.

No matter what you do to prepare your home for sale, be sure not to over-improve for the neighborhood. Give your home great curb appeal with a new or freshly painted front door and flowers or minor landscaping, lighten and brighten the interior with neutral paint, updated lighting and window treatments, and you are sure to enhance your chances of a quick sale at a price that reflects the improvements you have made.

Statistics provided by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling Magazine’s Cost. Value Annual Report.