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Renovations Worth Making Before You Sell Your Home

Keep cost vs value in mind

One of the most common questions I get asked is “What updates should I make before listing my home that will have the highest return on investment?” It’s important to keep in mind the difference between cost and value. Cost is the amount that a seller actually spends on a renovation, whereas value is how much more a buyer is willing to pay for that renovation, which is usually less than the cost. Sometimes sellers think if they recently installed a new roof that cost them $15,000, it will boost the value of their home by $15,000. Since a roof is among the minimum requirements that buyers expect for a house, the full cost of that improvement will likely not be recoupable in the sale price. With that being said, try to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes when thinking about valuable features.

Here are the most common renovations I recommend sellers make that tend to have the highest return on investment:

  1. Fresh Paint
    • Easy and inexpensive, giving your walls a fresh paint job will make your home look clean and polished.
    • Opt for a neutral color, paint over accent walls and remove wallpaper so buyers have a clean slate to imagine themselves living there.
  2. Professional Cleaning
    • Another inexpensive option that makes a huge difference. First impressions are everything, so if buyers immediately notice grimy walls, dusty fixtures, or funky odors, you’ve already lost them.
  3. Flooring (*sometimes!)
    • This one is case-by-case. Stained or extremely worn carpet is sure to catch a buyer’s eye and stick in their mind. If you’re able, I recommend replacing it with a neutral-colored, builder-grade carpet.
    • Similarly, scuffed or scratched wood floors will garner negative attention. Refinish the wood or replace it with an economical luxury vinyl tile or plank (LVT/LVP).
  4. Kitchen
    • New hardware (like cabinet and drawer pulls) and lighting fixtures are an easy way to transform the look and feel of your kitchen.
    • Depending on the price point of your home, replacing laminate countertops with granite might be a good investment. I tend to warn against “luxury” renovations before listing, but granite has become a highly-valued feature.
  5. Curb Appeal
    • Buyers’ impressions of your home start with the exterior, so putting your best foot forward is important here. Make sure the yard stays green, mowed, and edged. Clean up any flower beds, fill them with black mulch, and plant low-maintenance flowers or plants.
    • If your exterior siding or driveway is grungy, a quick power wash will make all the difference.

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