Best Home Improvements for ROI Prior to Selling Your Home - Part One

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Ah, the age old question...Should you spend more time and money on fixing it up or just try to sell it as is?

The Dilemma

This is one of those questions where the answer depends on variables. What's the condition of competing homes for sale? What is the local market activity and trends? What's the likelihood of a return on your investment?
Many sellers put way too much money into fixing up their homes before listing them for sale. They repair flaws that a buyer might never notice or just won't pay extra for. I always discuss this with my clients before they make any repairs and improvements to weigh the pros and cons before committing to any projects and establish that any investment is justifiable or likely to attract more buyer interest and perhaps higher sale price.

Selling a Home in "As Is" Condition

Let's say that the property in question needs a lot of work. Much of the electrical system doesn't work and the bathroom tub has fallen through the joists. All the faucets leak etc and there is evidence of neglect throughout.
This is not a home that can be easily or economically fixed. A coat of paint won't help. In this case, you might want to just price the house low enough to attract multiple offers or an investor. You can probably anticipate that only contractors and flippers will make offers.

Do Homebuyers Want Fixer-Uppers or Fixed Up Homes?

Some homebuyers say they want to buy fixer up homes but they're generally looking for those that require only light cosmetic repairs. Buyers who gravitate toward fixer-uppers are those who either don't qualify to buy a more expensive home or they want to make a profit by fixing up the home themselves. Most "fixer" buyers are willing to do simple repairs such as paint the walls, put in new carpeting, or replace light fixtures. They don't want to rebuild a foundation or move walls. Fixer-upper buyers will discount the price of the home to allow for the repairs then discount it a bit more for the inconvenience and consider that many buyers will not buy a home that needs a significant project to be completed. They worry that the work involved will cost more than what they anticipate. Perhaps replacing a roof could involve tearing off the sheathing and repairing rafters which could add to the cost.
Most buyers want a home that's in move-in condition. You can limit the number of buyers who might be attracted to your home by not making repairs.

Before Fixing Up Your Home

Smart sellers will weigh the cost of the proposed improvements against the home's market value after the repairs or upgrades are completed. Such an improvement might not be warranted if an upgrade won't return the investment. Before you decide to lift the roof and install skylights in the master suite, realize that kitchens and baths carry the highest return. Also, It’s worth viewing other homes that are currently listed and are similar in price to your own and compare the quality and presentation.
This doesn't mean that you have to buy designer appliances and tear out the cabinets but a minor kitchen remodel may prove to be a justifiable investment. Sometimes simply painting oak cabinets a darker color and installing updated hardware can give your kitchen an all-new look.

Where to Start

Make a list of everything that's defective, broken, or worn out. Buyers might wonder what else in the home has been neglected if they spot problems or malfunctioning systems as they tour your home. Minimum improvements you might want to consider making before selling your home include patching holes and cracks in the walls and ceilings and fixing broken appliances and HVAC systems. Repair leaky faucets. Replace broken window glass and repair the roof if necessary. Change any dated light fixtures or ceiling fans. Fix code violations—any serious buyer is going to insist on a home inspection.

Cosmetic Touches

Replace worn or stained carpeting. Repaint dark or marred walls with neutral paint—not white. Replace old drapes and window coverings.
Keep in mind that empty homes don't show as well as furnished rooms, but tired furniture can detract from your home's appeal. Consider upgrading your furniture if it's in bad shape. You can always take it with you when you go or ask your agent about professional staging.
Consulting with a highly trained real estate professional can make this process go from overwhelming to easy to navigate. I would love to chat with you about the potential your home has and what updates will bring you the best return on your investment.
As a Compass agent, I am able to offer you Compass Concierge - an only-at-Compass program that allows you to unlock your home's hidden potential to increase its market value - entirely on our dime! If you would like to know more about our Concierge program click here and let's chat today!


As a consummate professional, Marc Cowan provides his clients with the highest level of expertise, service and integrity. Marc has a successful track record of negotiating complex transactions and is dedicated to helping each of his clients achieve their unique real estate goals. Contact Marc today to schedule a consultation.

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