Before You List Your Home for Sale | Should You Do Updates?


A few times a month, sometimes more often, I get calls from homeowners who want to know what they should do to their home before they list it for sale. The good news is that they are making the call well in advance of when the first prospective buyer will view the property. Beyond some general advice, the call usually ends with I have to really see the property before I can make any kind of intelligent comments.

Often the call is coming from people who have inherited or will inherit the house. Recently I met with a couple in this situation who had some pretty good ideas as to what to do but also may have been thinking of some expenditures that may not have penciled out from a pure business perspective.

For example, they wanted to spend some money on a kitchen that most likely will be gutted by the new owners. Why bother. We can put some "stagey" looking accessories in there and maybe a stainless refrigerator and not spend much.

And that's my "mantra". Spend what you have to in order to maximize the sales price but no more.

If you are a follower of my blogs you know I am a big advocate of making sure that you do everything possible to maximize your sales price before your home is listed for sale. That starts with decluttering (biggest bang for the buck) and continues on to minor improvements like fixing whatever comes up in your pre-listing home inspection. Then we continue on to possibly painting and of course staging. Another great investment is in updating the lighting and possibly door handles as in get rid of the gold/brass dated stuff and replace it with brushed nickel or chrome.

If your roof is leaky, maybe a good idea to fix that with the El Nino coming this winter.

Putting in new wood floors? Possibly, if your current floor coverings are 1980's shag (orange preferred). When we get to new kitchens, bathrooms, etc. most likely not going to get you the return on the investment you would hope for.


Here's the question I always ask.

Does whatever you are planning to do enhance the existing presentation in a cost effective way? There are 2 reasons to spend money.
  • Maximize your potential sales price by unleashing equity.
  • Increase the sales price by doing improvements.
Your home, as is, may sell for $750,000. But if there are comps that show $800K is attainable and those homes were in better condition, it is certainly worth it to invest $10-15K to get double of that or more in return.

On the other hand if the comps, after improving the presentation are basically the same, then by spending $10K to get $15K, why bother unless the home is just so unappetizing as it is that it will cost you money to leave it in the present state.

There's a reason that my listings sell for higher prices than other Realtors and with short days on the market. Call me for a no obligation complimentary meeting to discuss the sale of your home.


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