Cleaning and Painting Add Home Value When Selling

For maximum return on investment, local experts recommend a spic-and-span home with fresh paint.


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Sally Power

Photo by Ramona d'Viola

Selling a home in today’s white-hot market might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re looking to get top dollar, it pays to put in some cost-effective upgrades and a little elbow grease.

For remodeling expert and interior designer Sally Power principal of Power Interiors in San Francisco, an immaculately clean house tops the list. “First impressions make a big difference, so clean your house thoroughly,” Power said. “No one wants to move into someone else’s dirt. Get rid of personal clutter, and clean your vents and cobwebs. Then paint.”

Statement-making wall colors or time-stamped finishes and floors will adversely impact a home’s sales price, she said. Power recommends neutral colors, affordable wood look-alike vinyl flooring, and modern lighting fixtures as the most cost-effective solutions for upgrades that will create a near immediate return on investment.

“Play up the best qualities of your house,” Power said. “You don’t have to pay a lot of money for staging, but tasteful, inexpensive aesthetic updates will improve your home’s ability to attract top bids.”

Another proponent of the spic-and-span-with-a-fresh-coat-of-paint approach is Sally R. Han of Alain Pinel Realty in Alameda.

“Like someone with nice skin, the cleanliness of a home exhibits its overall ‘health,’ ” Han said. “I always advise my clients about the transformative power of a fresh coat of paint, but be sure to use neutral colors.”

Han also suggested replacing worn and dated surfaces, like cabinet fronts, countertops, and switch plates, as well as replacing old floor coverings and refinishing hardwood floors, noting, “A beautiful floor can sell a home.”

Prior to listing a home, Han will ask the sellers to go room-to-room and photograph the ‘before’ version of their home. “Then, I ask them to pare down on personal belongings, or better yet, to work with a professional stager who will curate a room to its best advantage. The ‘after’ photos speak for themselves.

“A small investment in painting and staging can significantly increase the value of your home,” Han said. 

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