If you're selling your home or plan to do so soon, a little strategic planning can mean more dollars in your pocket. You want the most you can get for the place, don't ya? These 4 "Ss" will have you seeing dollar signs once the "for sale" sign is taken down, thanks to their value-increasing benefits. While you may want to get the home on the market right away, it's worth the effort to make these changes and fairly quick fixes so your home can be as sought-after as possible. Sell with these "Ss" completed and watch the price tag numbers go up. Your first showing will prove the time spent did the trick.

Simplify

Decluttering is one of the best ways to make your space instantly more appealing. No potential buyer is interested in tripping over your kids' toys or being distracted by the silly knick-knacks you've collected over the years. The more you make your home as "generic" as can be, the more the potential buyer(s) can picture themselves living there… with their stuff.

According to Consumer Reports, "Vital to the process is de-cluttering and depersonalizing the space as much as possible. Buyers will have a hard time imagining themselves in your home if it's filled with family photos and other personal effects." Additionally, HGTV notes, "A clutter-free home appears cleaner and larger, which is more attractive to homebuyers and therefore more valuable."

If you're place is a real mess, you may want to consider hiring a pro to help clear things out, and Consumer Reports estimates the cost for such a service can run anywhere from $600 - $2,500. Seems steep, but on the bright side, they claim the potential return goes up 5%. Plus, since you're moving anyway, this clean-out will help you when it's time to pack up and go.

Spruce Up

A few fix-ups can make a world of difference in the appearance of your home. You don't have to go all out and make major repairs or renovations, but spiffing things up by applying a fresh coat of paint, filling chips and cracks, removing or steam cleaning a dirty carpet, re-grouting, etc. will make your home a whole lot more appealing.

This Old House recommends dealing with the basics rather than doing anything too pricey or extravagant. "Insulate the attic, repair plumbing leaks, replace rusty rain gutters, inspect the furnace and the septic system, replace or repair leaky windows, install storm doors, etc." As This Old House says, "A couple hundred dollars spent could increase the value of your house by a few thousand dollars."

Along with indoor touch-ups, consider the first impression. Bankrate suggests to "reframe your entry." "A nice, big piece of hardware on the front door signals to newcomers that this is a solid home." And Consumer Reports recommends a power washing followed by any needed paint touch-ups, especially on the front of the home.

As per This Old House, "Brokers and agents from across the country say the houses that get attention in this buyer's market are in tip-top shape. Because there is so much inventory, the houses that sell are in pristine condition and are priced to the market." Don't let a few neglected simple fixes trip up your chances of selling.

Smell Fresh

A potential buyer wants to walk into a home that smells good. If anything makes them turn up their nose, how could they ever imagine living there? As per U.S. News & World Report, "Realtors always say that your home needs to smell great before a showing."

One way to eliminate any stale odors in the home is by using baking soda, as U.S. News & World Report recommends. Use some on the carpets, in the fridge, and even inside the trash cans to absorb unpleasant odors that you may have grown used to.

Some recommended scents that appeal to most, as suggested by U.S. News & World Report include pine, vanilla, and citrus. Don't go overboard, but a light scent wafting through the home will make potential buyers feel welcomed and comfortable. Try a light air freshener, candles, or oils.

Along with providing a pleasant scent, wipe down all tabletops and shelves, clear out pet cages and litter boxes, and make sure the bathroom is mildew- and odor-free before any showings. Run a fan or two to clear the air to make for total freshness throughout the home. And one last trick… bake a batch of cookies! The familiar scent will make anyone looking at the place feel like they're home.

These quick fixes are nearly cost-free, but the change they'll make will give a potential return of at least 3% as per Consumer Reports.

Scenery

The surrounding yard space of your home is nearly as important as what's going on inside. An unkempt lawn, untrimmed hedges, and poorly manicured landscaping make for a poor first impression. Consumer reports suggests, "Start with basic maintenance: mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, applying a fresh layer of mulch to garden beds."

According to This Old House, "Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views, darken interiors, promote mold, and block a good look at the house. Landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return. According to a 2007 survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping, can bring a return of four times that."

But what if you're not the gardening type? Bankrate has the solution, "If you don't have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. These kinds of changes can instantly change people's perception of your home and, therefore, increase its value."

With these 4 "Ss" completed, your showings will be at their peak. Your realtor will thank you and the potential buyers will be delighted. And you will enjoy the extra bucks your home is sure to sell for!

PayPath
Follow Us on

Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.