Putting your house up for sale is a big decision. Maybe you’re looking for more space for the kids, headed to a new city in HRVA or relocating outside of Hampton Roads for work (we’ll miss you!).  Regardless, life doesn’t stop when a home goes on the market. You’ll have enough to worry about as you plan your move and tackle your own new home search, and most importantly, preparing your home to sell.  

Therefore, here are 5 upgrades and priorities every home owner should consider before putting your HRVA home on the market -


1. Fix what’s obviously broken.

It could be a missing shingle outside or a gutter askew, but small fixes to obvious problems can make a difference in the home buying process. Many homebuyers will ask you to make repairs before closing anyway, so why not make repairs before your home ever hits the market? 

Obvious repairs can either limit your offers or become negotiating points in the buyers’ favor.  There may be easy fixes that you simply haven’t noticed lately. Ask someone who isn’t in your home every day to help you with a candid “mock” walk-through.

2. Upgrade first impressions.

When homebuyers fall in love with a home, it’s rarely because of the second floor linen closet (unless of course, you love a spacious closet that much). Rethink the familiar trip from your car to your front door to see your home with fresh eyes.  Do your hedges or trees need trimming?  Does your mailbox or front door need a coat of paint?  Keep in mind that when you’re on the market, you’ll need to cut the grass regularly.  A new doormat and fresh flowers are another inexpensive way to improve your curb appeal. 

HGTV has a thorough curb appeal checklist (PDF) for sellers, so choose a few items as your first and second priorities and begin preparing your home one item at a time.

3. Modernize hardware.

If your home is outfitted with brassy 80s fixtures, the house may give across an outdated impression even if you’ve made major upgrades over the years. While you may consider letting your homebuyers take care of it, remember that the newer neighborhood down the street in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake may have the same square footage as you, but already has these updates. These are the details that sway a final decision to make an offer. Fortunately, they’re details you can easily (and cost efficiently) avoid. 

Overstock.com has affordable faucets and knobs in brushed nickel, chrome or oiled-rubbed bronze. This is a small change that can help you get the best dollar for your home, and many find it easy to do-it-yourself

4. Freshen up the walls.

It doesn’t matter if it’s soft yellow or bright red: homebuyers respond best to a neutral space, free from a distracting paint color. Painting a home top to bottom can take a lot of time, so focus on important spaces (main living areas, kitchen) first, or on painting in rooms that have the boldest colors. 

If you’re concerned about choosing a white that looks institutional-grade, see Benjamin Moore’s top 100 paint colors. Choosing from their variations of white can still make your home look sophisticated, instead of too plain.

5. Sell a lifestyle.

One of the smartest upgrades doesn’t cost a thing. Tell the best story about your Hampton Roads home in its listing to make sure homebuyers come through the door. For example, a Virginia Beach home, a Chesapeake home, nearly every home in Hampton Roads, is in close proximity to water.  Mention the nearest water view, and homebuyers can already see themselves on the shore. If you’re blocks from Norfolk or Chesapeake’s Elizabeth River or minutes from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, be sure your listing says so.  

Think of the things you’ll miss about your neighborhood or home, and sell potential future owners of your home on a lifestyle. The best attributes of your neighborhood may be obvious to you now, but not to many potential Hampton Roads buyers who are researching online and may not be as familiar with the area.  

Even if you’re not on the market yet, what are some home updates you plan to make and enjoy now, that you hope will help you later if you plan to sell? What updates do you want to see when you’re in search of a new home?