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A tub refinishing job like the one done by, shown above, costs about $450, and can be just as effective as replacing the tub altogether but is a less expensive and easier way. Courtesy photo
A tub refinishing job like the one done by, shown above, costs about $450, and can be just as effective as replacing the tub altogether but is a less expensive and easier way. Courtesy photo

5 Under $500: Small home improvements with big resale impact

REGION — Fall is a season of change. Kids have headed back to school, the leaves are starting to turn, and you might be thinking about putting your home on the market. If the thought of fixing up your home to get ready to sell is overwhelming to you — and your wallet — some local experts have offered advice. Following are five changes you can make that cost less than $500 each, but are simple and increase your home’s value.

1) Update window


“Window treatments are huge,” Jeff Mendelsohn of Sotheby’s International Realty said. An update to your window treatments can touch every room in your home and if you’re handy it can be done easily and within budget. “Take off the old blinds,” Mendelsohn advises. Mini blinds, for example, can quickly date your home. Replace dated window coverings with curtains, which aren’t hard to install yourself. “You can get really nice things and keep the project under $500,” he said, suggesting stores like Ikea and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

2) Spruce up your yard

A quick trip to a local nursery and a willingness to get a little dirty will go a long way when it comes to selling your home.

By giving your front yard a mini makeover, you are increasing your “curb appeal” making your home appear cared for and more colorful.

“Plant flowers, and ensure that landscaping is neat and orderly,” Laura Lone, a realtor with Dave Stubbs Realty in Solana Beach said. “Having a well-manicured front yard can have a great impact on a home’s curb appeal, especially since buyers tend to make up their minds very quickly, so a good first impression is very important.”

“Adding fresh plantings is beneficial — seasonal, colorful flowers can really liven and freshen up a home’s curb appeal,” Lone said. “Prune and trim to make sure pathways are clear; ducking under overhanging branches or wading through overgrown pathways is frustrating and gives an initial impression that the home may not be well-maintained.”

3) Refinish tubs, sinks and countertops

“When buyers look at houses for sale, they judge the value of the home based on noticeable wear and tear,” Brett Davis, owner of NuFinishPro said. “The most obvious signs of an aging home can be seen in the kitchen and bathroom units.” An easy alternative to expensive construction is to refinish tubs, sinks and countertops, which gives the benefits of a remodel but will save up to 75 percent of the cost and can even be done in a single day.

“The better your house’s bathrooms and kitchen look, the higher price it will garner from interested buyers,” Davis said.

4) Ditch the popcorn ceilings

Popcorn ceilings are one of the easiest indicators that your home is out of date. And homeowners can keep removal costs low by doing it themselves. “People don’t do it themselves because it’s tedious,” Mendelsohn said. The benefits of removing popcorn ceilings are twofold. Not only will it bring the home up to date, it can also visually increase the size of your home. “It opens it up,” Mendelsohn said. “Popcorn ceilings make a room look not as big.”

It’s important to note that before attempting to DIY, you should test your popcorn ceilings for asbestos. You can purchase a kit from your local hardware or building supply store to find out if it’s safe to proceed and also get tips on how to safely and properly complete the project.

5) Deep clean and organize your home

Cleaning and organizing are obvious quick and affordable ways to ready your home for sale, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Spending the money to have a professional come in and do a deep cleaning ensures hard to reach areas such as ceiling vents, high cabinets and behind appliances are covered.

Home buyers tend to look at homes with a more discerning eye than a dinner guest would, and it pays to not leave any stone unturned when it comes to cleaning and decluttering.

“Decluttering and organizing is huge,” Mendelsohn said. “You can do it yourself or get a professional organizer.” When potential home buyers come into your home, they inevitably imagine how they would fit there. “Seeing how other people live makes a huge difference,” he said. A clean an organized home helps them to better see how their lives could be there, without any distractions.

So as you prepare your home for sale, keep in mind that there are several ways to increase your resale value that require very little money, and sometimes a bit of elbow grease.