10 DIY projects to sell your home faster


With the troubled housing market of the past five years and banks still reluctant to lend, its no wonder homeowners hoping to sell are sitting on the market for months at a time. Buyers, meanwhile, are trying to find a balance between their dream home and one that's affordable.

(Photo: Mary Hutchison | Flickr)

For those trying to sell a house, what are some quick and easy DIY projects that can help sell your home faster? We asked experts to share step-by-step instructions for completing projects bound to modernize your home, from resurfacing cabinets to eliminating home odors to re-caulking bathroom grout.

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1. Create a welcoming entrance
If you don't immediately impress potential buyers as they enter the home, you're setting yourself up for a tough sell. Creating a welcoming entrance is arguably the most effective way to sell your home faster.

Doug Perlson, co-founder and CEO of RealDirect.com, shares the following tips for instantly improving curb appeal:

  • Remove weeds and make sure plantings are trimmed and don't appear overgrown.

  • Replace old address numbers with modern exterior ones. It's a quick and inexpensive update.

  • Paint the front door and refrain from excessive decoration.

  • Part of what makes an entrance appealing is what you don't see. Specifically, your entrance should not be crowded with shoes, keys, mail, etc.

2. Mulch
Applying mulch to your front and back yards is another inexpensive way to make your home more appealing to buyers.

Jason Cameron, TV host and TruGreen partner, shares these strategies for mulching:

  • Apply a one- to three-inch layer of mulch – any thicker, and roots will begin growing in the mulch instead of the soil, making them susceptible to drought and low temperatures.

  • Check the depth of the mulch in your landscape beds. It should be two to three inches deep. Add more mulch if you do not have the minimum level in place, but do not exceed four inches. When rainfall is limited, mulch not only conserves soil moisture, but moderates soil temperature and helps deter weeds.

  • Make sure your mulch is not too close to the base or trunk of the plant, as it could cause decay and winter injury.

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3. Eliminating odors
You may not notice odors in your home, but prospective buyers will.

Jill M. Banks of Happily Better After Room Redesign & Home Staging suggests using baking soda as a way to fight odors: "Baking soda is a natural odor neutralizer, so if a spot in the carpet still smells funky after cleaning, try sprinkling some baking soda on it, leave it for 15 minutes or so, then vacuum."

She says baking soda can also be used in garbage disposals, trash cans, washing machines and refrigerators to knock out mystery smells.

4. Resurfacing cabinets
Replacing your cabinets is undoubtedly a major expense and will likely require a professional to complete. Resurfacing your cabinets is a cost-effective way to spruce up your kitchen, though.

Design expert Kathy Peterson offers the following steps to a perfect cabinet:

  • Step 1: Remove hardware, doors and drawers.

  • Step 2: Clean the surface.

  • Step 3: Deglaze it with liquid sand, then clean again.

  • Step 4: Paint and, depending on the style you're looking for, add a tint over the paint (design kits can help you with this).

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5. Baseboard repairs
The baseboards in your home are subject to plenty of wear and tear over the years. To make some easy repairs, Frank Foti, business manager adviser for Mr. Handyman, offers these tips:

  • Strike nails flush with face of trim board using a nail punch or awl tool.

  • Patch holes and/or small cracks/dents with wood filler; sand; re-paint.

  • Caulk or re-caulk top of trim to wall.

(Photo: prettyinprint | Flickr)

6. Nail-hole repairs
While nail holes are hard to notice, buyers typically inspect every inch of the house. You don't want to let a small nail hole dissuade potential buyers. Here are more simple suggestions for Foti:

  • Step 1: In drywall/plaster, use a four-inch drywall knife to apply drywall spackle.

  • Step 2: On trim, use fingers to apply wood filler.

  • Step 3: Repaint.

7. Caulking
Speaking of caulking, the grout in your bathroom or shower is likely to become moldy and dirty. To re-caulk, consider Foti's tips:

  • Step 1: Make sure the area to be caulked is clean, dry and free of debris and contaminants.

  • Step 2: Fashion the correct size of tube opening for the desired size bead of caulk (cut tube tip for a small opening initially).

  • Step 3: Ensure the proper tube is bought for the job at hand: latex (interior), acrylic (exterior/kitchen/bath) or silicon (kitchen/bath, not intended to be painted).

  • Step 4: The gap between surfaces to be caulked should not exceed one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch. Use backer rod for larger gaps.

  • Step 5: Allow caulk to set-up/cure according to manufacturer recommendations before exposing to water.

  • Step 6:Use a slightly damp rag to smooth excess caulking from your project.

8. Spruce up your appliances
Instead of replacing older appliances that work for the sole purpose of having a more updated kitchen, update their knobs — its costs less and adds some "curb appeal."

For tips on how to complete this DIY project, we turned to Steve Ash, senior repairman at PartSelect.com for advice.

"You can remove most knobs and replaced them without using any tools, or with minimal use of needlenose pliers," he says.

As for how to complete the project, here are his steps:

  • Step 1: Grip the old knob and pull it from the knob shaft gently but firmly.

  • Step 2: Check to ensure the metal or plastic insert of the knob remains in the knob, not on the shaft.

  • Step 3: Press the new knob onto the shaft (some knobs screw into place.) A knob or dial that screws in is generally used when the function of the knob is a push or pull as opposed to a turn. For these types you will screw the dial on and off instead of sliding.

9. Changing a handle
Believe it or not, changing an appliance's handle is slightly different. Here are Ash's steps:

  • Step 1: Before you start, check to see how the old handle is attached. There will be at least two screws holding the handle onto the appliance. In some cases, there may be a keyhole slot as well.

  • Step 2: Remove the screws and remove the old handle gently to avoid damaging or scratching the door.

  • Step 3: Replace the handle, starting with the keyhole slot if there is one, followed by the screws.

  • Step 4: Secure the screws tightly.

10. Clean out those closets
And a final DIY project that doesn't require any tools or experience: Cleaning out your closets.

"While shoving everything into a closet has been your go-to clean-up plan since your teen years, potential buyers will undoubtedly look behind every door in your home. Keep bedroom, linen closets and storage spaces neat and tidy to avoid any embarrassing surprises," advises Sure Fit creative director Sheryl Boltze.