These are the priorities I recommend:
1. Floors: If you don’t do the floors before you move in, you probably won’t do them. It’s also more labor intensive and expensive to do them once furniture is in the property. So focus on your floors – refinish wood, replace old vinyl/ceramic, and install new carpeting.
2. Paint: Like floors, it’s easiest and most cost effective to do before you move in. I do not recommend painting yourself. It’s time and labor intensive and you can hurt your resale with an average paint job (and most people do an average paint job). Be sure to have all trim, walls, ceilings, and closets painted.
3. Kitchen/Baths: Get these livable, but spend as little as possible if you plan a bigger remodel down the road. Paint and flooring go a long way, as do new countertops, vanities, and light fixtures.
4. Basic Furniture: This may seem counter-intuitive, but I do think it’s worth investing in a few nice pieces of furniture early on. I think a good couch is worth every penny and you get what you pay for with couches, so go for quality! I also think a dining room table and chairs is important. Craigslist can be a great resource if your budget is tight.
Obviously, any important system (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) or foundation work identified in an inspection or otherwise should be first priority!
Want to buy a house needing a little work? Bought a house, but need a consult on where to start? Contact me today! firstname.lastname@example.org | 202-905-5369