Many people say it’s the kitchen and bathrooms that really sell a home.

Buyers prefer that both are clean and in move-in condition. They want to unpack their dishes and glassware as well as their toiletry bag and feel comfortable in their new home right away.

Many homeowners, however, don’t have the time, energy or financial resources for major kitchen and bathroom renovations. Perhaps during their time in the home, the seller focused on turning the basement into a media room or making necessary roof and siding repairs. When it’s time to sell, how can a cash-strapped seller appeal to buyers who want — even expect — an upgraded kitchen and bathroom?

Here are three affordable, quick, easy tips for sprucing up your kitchen and bath right before going on the market.

1. Paint the kitchen cabinets.

It would be too costly to go out and purchase new cabinets just before you sell.  But you and your real estate agent despise the old knotty pine or dark grain cabinets from 20 years ago. A quick fix is to paint them white. It will make the kitchen appear lighter, brighter and cleaner. A fresh coat of paint will give the appearance of new, which will appease many buyers. This can be done in one or two days’ time for just a few hundred dollars.

2. Put some new hardware on the kitchen cabinets.

After you’ve brightened up the kitchen with some new paint, throw on some brushed nickel cabinet door hardware. This hardware with the new white paint in the backdrop will make the kitchen pop. Buyers’ eyes may be drawn away from the older counter tops or appliances. And, given that the cabinets are at or just above eye level, the hardware may be the first thing they notice in the kitchen.  You can buy new hardware for just a few dollars and install them yourself

3. Re-grout or clean the bathroom tile and grout.

Bathrooms should be sanitary places and a new buyer wants to feel comfortable with their new bathroom. Nothing is more of a turn off than a bathroom where the grout is dirty or moldy or full of soap scum. At a minimum, spend an hour with a toothbrush and some bleach and scrub that grout. This is something you can do on your own in just a half a day. If the bathroom is too far-gone, you may want to spend the money on a tiler to regrout the tile. This will make the bathroom pop, giving a new, clean feeling to this important room

There may be other, more important projects for which you’ve budgeted. In many cases, your real estate agent has suggested painting some of the rooms a more neutral color or spending some money on storage for excess furniture. Staging and home preparation are unique for every home. But, given the focus buyers always put on kitchens and bathrooms, these three tips should be seriously considered as you prepare to go on the market.

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor® and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets. Follow Brendon on Twitter.

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