In Tips

Cans of paint with a paintbrush for home renovations.

Affordable, Accessible Home Improvements

Not all home improvements are alike when it comes to increasing a property’s resale value. Particularly when selling, it is important to make smart choices if upgrades are needed. The right renovations can increase the sale price and draw more buyers to the front door. The wrong ones can cost sellers more than they will recoup.

Consider the following “best practices” for improving a home and making the most of a seller’s time and money.

Start at the Bottom: Flooring Updates

Updating and improving flooring in a home that will soon be on the market can positively affect bid prices. Dirty carpet or warped, scratched, or stained wood and tile floors can turn off potential buyers as soon as they step in the door.

Focus on making such flooring updates as,

  • Add or refinish hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are in high demand, so it may pay off to remove carpeting—especially from entertainment areas such as the living room, dining room and family room—if sellers can afford it. Make sure wood floors are properly installed by a professional and freshly polished.
  • Replace chipped or cracked tiles. Repairing any damaged floor tiles and replacing outdated vinyl flooring is a good idea when planning to sell a home. Consider adding “trendy” and durable tile floors to bathroom and kitchen areas. Be sure to clean and replace grout if existing tiling is still in good shape.

Next Up, Walls and Ceilings

Replacing textured ceilings and applying a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for buyers who are looking for a clean, well-maintained home. Consider these best practices, for the highest return:

  • Replace “popcorn” ceilings. Outdated, textured ceilings are more than just an eye sore to potential buyers, but also a warning sign of possible asbestos. Once a seller is sure the ceiling is asbestos free, remove textured details and repaint for a significant refresh.
  • Remove dated wallpaper or wood paneling. Anything that dates a home or decreases a buyer’s ability to imagine him/herself in the home will limit offers. Remove and replace these features with neutral paint colors that have wide appeal.
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint. Freshly painted walls and trim can do wonders for any space. Select neutral colors that brighten and help make spaces feel larger. Address any large cracks in walls with fiberglass tape covered with joint compound, sanded and finished with a fresh coat of paint.

Kitchen & Bath Updates

Sellers do not have to spend tens of thousands on kitchen and bath renovations in order to improve a home or achieve a quick sale. Depending on comparable properties for sale and the current market, even minor to mid-range updates can produce as high as a 100% return. New floors, fixtures and lights are manageable, affordable touches for most homeowners.

Best practices for updating a kitchen and baths include:

  • Update fixtures and lighting. Replace bulky, outdated fixtures and lighting to quickly modernize spaces. Consider recessed lighting for an affordable way to update “high traffic” rooms and add modern light.
  • Replace or resurface cabinets and vanities. Replacing cabinet doors (or resurfacing and painting outdated wood tones) and updating cabinet hardware can refresh a bathroom and kitchen at minimal expense. Choose neutral paint colors that attract and don’t repel buyers.
  • Fix leaky faucets or stained sinks. Apply a fresh layer of caulk around sinks, baths and showers to keep these areas looking clean and inviting. Refinish a stained tub and replace shower doors if they cannot be returned to “like new” condition.
  • Consider countertop alternatives. Not every homebuyer wants granite or stone countertops in the kitchen and baths. If sellers are set on installing new countertops, investigate local dealers that may sell or even give away material remnants. Paying for cuts and installation to these lower cost cuts can be a serious bargain if less than 8 feet of countertop is required.

The Value of Staging

Taking the time to stage a home can mean the difference between a few days on the market to weeks or months. Updating décor to complement any renovations or refinishes will help to showcase living spaces, improve natural light, and emphasize key features of a home.

Ensure any “personal” touches, such as family photos and children’s drawings are removed, allowing buyers to imagine spaces as their own. Adding fresh flowers and ensuring every room is clean and uncluttered will help bring offers in.

What it All Comes Down To

At the end of the day, it’s all about the current real estate market. Sellers can do as little or as much as comparable properties and the market will allow. Ensuring significant maintenance issues are addressed before buyers are brought in, and taking measurable steps to update a home don’t have to cost a lot and can help to ensure high bids and a quick sell.

If a seller is extremely budget-limited, focusing only on major fixes might be sufficient, ensuring the home has passed a pre-sale inspection to identify and remedy issues before buyers come through.

Smart sellers weigh the costs of improvements against the home’s market value, and whether repairs or upgrades will significantly improve that number. Focusing on the areas with the highest return, such as those discussed above, will bring the biggest bang for the seller’s buck.

Need some help making the most of your seller’s time and money? Market Ready can help! Contact us today for a free estimate.