Are you thinking of downsizing in the next 3-5 years? If you are, it is not too soon to come up with your exit strategy, and the old "Irish exit" does not count. What's that? Find out in the Urban Dictionary here.
Please don't wait until the real estate sign is about to go up on your front lawn. I feel terrible at staging consults when the client is rushed to make updates that they could have done over a few years time and had the pleasure of enjoying themselves before they were racing to get these things done in time for photos to be taken. Your real estate agent will appreciate it, too. Your house will show better and sell faster.
My top 10 things to implement your Exit Strategy:
1. Neutralize paint colors
2. Update kitchen counter tops to granite or quartz
3. Neutralize your kitchen backsplash if it is a color or motif specific to a decade pre 2010 (we are in 2018 now)
4. New matching kitchen appliances, including the microwave - stainless is still best
5. Updated bathroom and tub faucets
6. Update bathroom counter tops to granite, quartz or a solid surface
7. Update light fixtures, especially above bathroom vanities and ceiling lights in the hallways and kitchen eating area
8. Refinish existing hardwood floors
9. Consider replacing wall-to-wall carpet downstairs with hardwood or similar to match any existing wood flooring (buyers like as few flooring changes as possible)
10. Replace worn/stained upstairs carpeting in a neutral color using the same carpet in all areas
My advise is to come up with a budget and timeline now. This is a good activity for a cold and snowy day - hint hint. Chances are your budget will not allow you to do it all. The planning part is to do a few things on the list each year over the next 3-5 years. This way you can enjoy the updates for a bit before you go.
Nothing saddens me more than seeing folks rush out and spend money on these updates and only get to enjoy them for a short time before they pack up and go. Almost 100% of the time the homeowner tells me they wish they had done these things sooner because they love they way things look just as they are about to make an exit.