1) Lawn-care/landscaping. A lot of people overlook this one. A green lawn is a plus. A weedy, crabgrass filled lawn will detract from your homes presentability and value. Its not hard to green your lawn (use a weed & feed and apply it to the whole lawn - $20-$30). It will take a few weeks and will yield a major improvement. Have the lawn professionally cut (they will edge your lawn, remove weeds, etc... for $30 or so per session) - it shows you care and cared for your house. Well placed shrubs, trees, and flowers can make the ugliest home inviting. They can also hide shortcomings, misaligned panels, meters, hoses, pipes, and other out yard detriments and annoyances.
2) Paint/pressure washing the exterior. Many times the outside will brighten up with just a quick pressure washing (average $100-$150). This will remove dirt, cobwebs, some stains, mildew, etc... If there is more left when done you will need to repaint the exterior (average $500-$2000). This is more expensive, but will definitely brighten up your house and make it more marketable.
3) Driveway. Look at your driveway. Does it have oil stains, spots, look aged? Revitalize it. A good pressure washing will help most driveways. For stubborn oil stains and spots spray a mixture of 10-30% muriatic acid on the concrete wait one minute then pressure wash off. This will remove the most stubborn stains better than anything else. Be careful not to spray the acid on your lawn or let the over-spray from pressure washing get on the lawn (it will kill your grass and turn it yellow fast).
4) Entrance-way. If you don't have a decorative glass door, get one. They are easily installed (goes on in front of your front door) and greatly dress up or finish a well kept house - they give it that finished touch. Also a few nicely trimmed potted plants, decorative plants and shrubs will add that welcoming and cozy feeling. Remember 95% of all home buying purchases are heavily influenced by a woman. Make them feel at home and you will get a much higher price and return for just a little work and a little money - well worth it.
5) Inside paint and trim work. This is a must. Have the interior repainted along with the trim work. Little dings, marks, scuffs, do detract from your homes value. Pick or stay with neutral colors. For free expert advice call your local realtor and ask them what sells (colors, etc...). They will be glad to tell you as you may become a client for them.
6) Make sure your appliances that are staying with the house all work.
Women are prone to try out appliances in the kitchen. Replace any mismatched appliances and upgrade to stay in tune with your neighborhood. Do not out price your neighborhood or you will risk throwing away money. Your realtor can best help you here as to whether you should go with granite, tile, formica and similar questions.
7) Useable space. Take that attic or extra closet and turn it into a bathroom or extra room if it is feasible. Remember the rule - square footage equals money. The more useful room you have the more you will get.
8) Carpets. Have them professionally cleaned and replaced if necessary. Potential buyers will be looking with the mindset of how much money and time they will have to put in to make it liveable and homelike. The more you help them, the better off you will be. There's nothing like a stained carpet to bring down your value and deter buyers. Don't just try the cover up method. These spots will come out when the buyer does their preclosing inspection - and don't think they won't.
9) Have your home inspected. Have the foundation, roof, plumbing, etc... checked out. By having the results of a positive inspection in hand for potential buyers it shows that you know you have a good, well cared for house. The buyers will be willing to pay more for your house. Also have it inspected for pests, ants,and other insects.
There you have it 9 steps that will guarantee a much higher resale value of any house in any area or neighborhood.
David Maillie is a alumni of Cornell University and specializes in biochemical synthesis for public, private, and governmental interests. He holds numerous patents including his recently awarded patent for headlight cleaner and restorer. He can be reached at M.D. Wholesale: http://www.mdwholesale.com or by visiting http://www.bestskinpeel.com