If you hope to sell your house more quickly for top dollar, then you should most definitely consider investing in your likely largest investment by implementing any needed cosmetic upgrades and home staging to appeal to today's "HGTV generation" of buyers.
The biggest bang for your buck is to give the walls a fresh coat of neutral paint such as warm whites, creams, or greys. Light, bright, spacious feeling homes that are move-in ready sell more quickly.
Kitchen and bathrooms statistically have the highest return on investment so it's advisable to paint or reface worn out or dated cabinets, add new cabinet hardware, replace countertops with stone, replace dated or leaking faucets and fixtures, and replace older appliances with new ones. (There is no need to replace with high-end appliances unless you're selling a high-end property.)
Replace dark, coloured, or worn out linoleum or carpeting with lighter neutral ones, or even better, hardwood floors as that is what most buyers are looking for. If you're selling an older home with carpet over the original hardwood floors, it is highly recommended to remove the carpet and re-finish the hardwood if it needs it. (See my blog on Hardwood Floors for more info.)
Once the cosmetic upgrades have been done, be sure to de-clutter, de-personalize, and edit out any unnecessary furniture and decor. You need just enough to show the buyers how each space can function while making it still feel homey and inviting, but not so much that it distracts the buyers from the selling features of your home. To further maximize the appeal of your home and make your listing stand out on the MLS, it is advisable to store away your dated, dark, or overly ornate furniture and decor and hire a professional stager to bring in lighter, more contemporary items that will most definitely call the attention of the buyers.
Take a look at these AFTER & BEFORE photos of an occupied home in New York state staged by Karen Hunter of Staging Magic. She convinced the homeowners to invest in some cosmetic upgrades and rented furniture and decor, and guess what? The house sold in 3 weeks for $200,000 over list price!
It can literally pay to invest in cosmetic upgrades and professional home staging...