Published on April 12, 2019

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Designed by Emily Henderson Design, photo by Sara Tramp

If the only reason you’re interested in selling your home is to put some extra cash in your pocket, think again. Offloading property can be as financially stressful as buying a brand-new house. It turns out, that you’ve got a lot more to worry about than moving day.

According to a new report from Zillow and Thumbtack, the average seller will spend $20,851 in order to get their home in top shape. More than two-thirds of those expenses can be credited to sales taxes and agent commissions—fees that tend to shock first-time home sellers. Considering most of these costs are unavoidable, it’s what you do with the final third that really counts.

For most sellers, taking on a few home improvement projects before they list isn’t a perk—it’s a necessity. And while these changes are often worth every penny (a touch of paint in the bathroom can increase the value of your home by $3,000), hiring the work out can add up fast. Luckily, the priciest projects can be done for a fraction of the cost (and in some cases, for free). Here’s how you can save $6,500 just by taking on these five simple tasks yourself.

Paint the Exterior

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photo by andy johnson

Average cost: $2,600

Curb appeal is everything. A fresh coat of paint can work wonders to appeal to potential buyers before they even hit the front door. Melissa Johnson of Best Friends for Frosting and her husband, Andy, recently transformed the exterior of their mid-century-modern home all on their own by renting equipment and taking their time.

Groom the Yard

Average cost: $145

Newsflash: Young home buyers care more about a manicured lawn than they do an upgraded kitchen. Don’t’ worry about going overboard with the landscaping. You’ll be surprised by how far a freshly mowed lawn, a little weeding, and a few new flower beds will take you.

Rearrange the Living Room

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Design by Emily Henderson Design, Photographer by Tessa Neustadt_

Average cost: $1,805

There’s a reason home stagers exist. Painting a clean yet livable picture for buyers is an important step in the process. Before you hire a professional or swap out everything you own, consider working with what you already have. Tidying up the kitchen, swapping family photos out for streamlined vases, and reconfiguring the master bedroom layout will change the way people view your space.

Spruce Up the Carpet

Average cost: $140

Wine spills and pizza stains have your floors feeling blue? There’s a hack for that, and it will cost you far less than bringing in a pro cleaner to give your wall-to-wall carpeting a touch-up. The Hoover Spotless Portable Carpet Cleaner from Target will erase your floors of any flaws for under $100.

Paint the Interior

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photo by cody guilfoyle

Average cost: $1,805

Unlike painting the exterior of your home, you can take on an interior room in a weekend. You can’t go wrong with a cool gray or a flat white. As long as you properly prep the walls, no one will be able to tell it was a rookie job.  

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