A friend who is a Realtor told me that he tells every client, "Your home has to have some wow factors."

He's right. If you want your home to sell fast at a price you can be happy with, you need to stand out from the competition.

Price is one way to do that. Wow factors are another.

Getting specific

You don't need to start dumping money into your home to make it far more luxurious and up-to-date than it is. The last thing you want to do is price yourself out of the market.

But if you are really motivated to sell, or need to sell fast, some extra-special, memorable features are what could put your home over the top.

Depending on where you live, a hot tub could be the one thing that convinces buyers to make an offer. Photo: LoveChicLiving

Here are some typical wow factors that fall midway between gutting-it-all remodels and simple, gussy-up staging. They'll cost you some money, but they'll help sell your home!

New walk-in shower

One or two obviously high-end lighting fixtures

An outdoor hot tub

Private, outdoor enclosed space or garden

Professionally designed landscaping

Outdoor shower, even if it's cold water only

Stylish overhead garage door or refurbished existing one

New kitchen appliances that match each other

New washer and dryer that stay

Built-in bookcases, beautifully staged, of course

Built-in window seat, so charming!

Media room with basic home theatre

The fenced backyard that parents and pet owners crave 

Fully finished garage and/or basement that attracts the male buyer

New toilet and sink, maybe in all baths
Don't think your list of improvements has to include more than one of these improvements. Even one impressive upgrade buys you some wow. What changes you decide to make depends on your home's present condition, the local market, your reasons for selling, and your budget.
Adding a simple fence can be an inexpensive addition to your property

Why little luxuries matter

So, what's the big deal about features that wow?

Buyers are immediately impressed, and favorably so.

Your home becomes memorable. It's the one with the bathroom skylights, or the one with the luscious, secret shade garden.

You can include these features in your MLS listing and all your literature. Include specifics like brand names and measurements when possible. Specifics impress.

The longer buyers stay in your home during a preview, the better. Improvements that wow encourage lingering. 

I'm sure if you do a slow, room-by-room, walk-through of your own home, and put your mind in the Dream Big Mode, you're bound to envision some changes that you yourself would love.

If you can't justify spending money on new appliances or bathroom upgrades, examine your home for almost-wow factors. Is that awesome sunroom being wasted as a clutter collection point? Has your view of the distant mountains been obscured by overgrown weed trees? Are there heart pine floors under carpeting? Is the working fireplace currently not working? Does your formal dining room look more like homework and crafting headquarters?  Is that killer shelving system for the garage still in boxes? These are missed opportunities to wow buyers.

Shelving units like this can be assembled on-site as a DIY project. 
Photo: House to Home 

Even if buyers had planned to moves their own appliances, new ones in your home will look tempting. Photo: Timber Trails Development 

Now's the time to brainstorm 
Maybe you've always wanted to add crown molding to the living room. Maybe you've wanted a chandelier in the foyer, or a beautifully stylish ceiling fan in your sunroom, or an outdoor fountain by the patio. If these are changes you would enjoy in your own home, as long as they aren't particular to unique tastes, they are the kinds of things that buyers will want as well.

Don't let the idea that all these upgrades are expensive scare you. Get some estimates. Work with an experienced handyman who can come up with economical alternatives. Purchase from mid-price range.

You can upgrade just the half bath. Who says baths must match?

You can install hardwoods in just the downstairs, or just the living and dining rooms. Hardwoods can be laid for the cost of wall-to-wall carpeting. Consider luxury vinyl planking if you are updating any flooring.

You can buy scratch and dent appliances. Very often these deeply discounted appliances are high end, and the ding isn't visible once installed.

You can buy mid-range bookcases you assemble yourself and screw to the wall. Centsational Girl did this and blogged about it.

You can DIY a board and batten treatment in the hallway. Blogland is full of tutorials for this project.

You can put together a home theater system from Craigslist. First adopters sell their systems to upgrade to the latest. And you can always negotiate price. Maybe they will offer to install it for you.

You can trade skills with friends or family for what you need. Feed your cousin the tile setter for a week while he lays new ceramic flooring in your kitchen. Trade babysitting services for your neighbor who has a hot tub to sell.

Hardwood flooring is going to wow most people. 
Prices can be comparable to carpeting.
Luxury vinyl planking is popular as well. 

You can't afford to waste time  

Remember that every month your home doesn't sell you are paying carrying costs to stay there. The sooner your home sells, the more money you make, because homes that stay on the market grow stale, and that fact influences what you can ask for it. Agents and buyers wonder what's wrong with these stale homes and they stay away. You need to tempt buyers and do it at the start. When you list!

So don't fall into the rut of thinking, "If it's good enough for me, it's good enough." Buyers are spoiled. You won't change that. But can still wow them with some amenities.

Get more ideas to help you prepare your home for the real estate market by downloading my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar.