Planning to sell your own home or an investment property? The chances are good if you take some time to improve the house it will sell for a higher price when closing. At the same time, the idea of renovation is a daunting one; not all renovations are worthwhile, and knowing which ones actually are can be tricky. Renovation can take a lot of time, budget, and effort that can be off-putting to people with fuller schedules. It’s no surprise that some home sellers are put-off of the idea of making significant changes just to sell the home.
On the other hand, making improvements to the home will have a marked impact on the asking price and can be a differentiating factor when it comes to return on investment. Selling the house as-is comes with its own risks: buyers are likely to notice any existing issues and this can directly affect how many offers you get when the home is put onto the market, especially if your property is below the standard set by the other homes in the neighborhood. If you do some market research and see your house comes up short, you may want to reconsider your feelings on upgrading the property.
It’s not all bad news though. Renovating a house does not have to be an over-commitment, and there are improvements that can be made that can make a significant difference to the property value without costing a fortune or taking forever. In this complete guide, we’ll take a closer look at what the best improvements are to sell a house, how intensive they are and why they’ll affect buyer opinions:
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Bright, Airy Spaces
Let’s jump in with the biggest one first. Homes that are open plan or have lots of free flow and high ceilings typically perform better with buyers than their darker, smaller counterparts. This can be a challenge if your home does not meet these requirements – how can you replicate the feeling without completely changing the walls and structure?
We’ll start with the idea of breaking through a wall. While intimidating, if done by the right contractor knocking down the right wall can create the layout buyers are after and makes the home look more inviting overall. Don’t discount this as an option just because it seems messy, but do take the proper precaution of working with a contractor to make sure the wall is not load-bearing.
Still, there are other ways to make the house feel bigger and brighter that don’t involve any demolition. Changing the windows or adding additional lighting can make a big difference to how buyers perceive the space. In a smaller home, you want to decrease the clutter and create a focal point in the room. This can be done by adding specific light fixtures or strategically minimizing the number of furniture in the room. When staging the home, mirrors can also be added to make the room look and feel bigger than it really is.
Improve Curb Appeal
Next, we’ll take a second to talk about the curb appeal of the home. This effectively translates to how attractive your home is to buyers from the outside. Luckily, improving the curb appeal can be relatively easy and many of the needed improvements can be DIY-ed. Some of the best ways to fix up the property’s curb appeal will involve landscaping, painting, and some general repairs. By taking on some of these projects yourself, you can save on the cost of labor.
Landscaping is the simplest place to start. Make sure that the grass has been cut, that the shrubs have been trimmed and the flowers have been pruned. If the garden is lacking, it’s worthwhile to purchase some greenery and make sure everything is planted and maintained while the home is on show. Landscaping is often considered to be one of the best places to start with since there is little risk involved.
Next, touching up the paint on the outside of the home can also add to the curb appeal. This includes paying careful attention to the external window trimmings, door frames, and other touches besides just the walls. The outside of the home will be one of the first impressions that potential buyers will have, and making a good one is essential. Take an objective look at the outside of the property and see how it compares to other homes in the area. It doesn’t have to be identical, but it should ideally match the spirit of the neighborhood.
Change Out The Fixtures
This is a small inexpensive improvement that can make a major difference to how the home appears to buyers. Fixtures like drawer knobs, faucets, and lighting can really transform spaces like kitchens and bathrooms without making major changes. Look at the recent trends and try to choose something that can be timeless too.
Take the kitchen, for example. In an older home, the kitchen will likely need a lot of TLC in order to be up to scratch. The kitchen cabinets are a great place to start, and they may not have to be replaced completely. With a lick of paint and some bright new fixtures, the same old kitchen cabinets can be radically transformed.
Refinish Or Touch Up Flooring
Apart from the walls, the other thing that instantly draws the attention of potential buyers is the flooring. If there are carpets, it’s in your best interest to ensure that they are cleaned and in a good condition – nothing is as off-putting as that stubborn wine stain from a previous resident. Having the carpets professionally cleaned is a worthwhile expense.
Other types of flooring can be more challenging. Wooden floors may need to be refinished, tiles patched or linoleum fixed depending on the condition. If they’re in a terrible state, there may be no other option but to replace them completely. Some floor types like hardwood floors are not as durable and require regular maintenance, Laminate is a cheaper alternative that mimics the look of hardwood floors but is also particularly susceptible to water damage.
Tiles are not immune to the maintenance associated with flooring. Many tile types require additional sealing to keep them at their best.
Besides the general maintenance and touch-ups, make sure the floors are cleaned between viewings so that they are spotless when each potential buyer sees them. The property needs to live up to the idea of “like-new”.
There’s a reason why most new home developments stick to neutral palettes for their properties – it’s because the buyer can walk in and envision anything fitting in there. It’s a blank page they get to fill.
You can replicate this feeling by repainting the interior walls and trims of your home in a subtle color that gives the home a refreshed feel. The right paint color can add to the property’s airiness and help it look bigger. Think about colors like grey, white, beige, or another similar option.
If the walls are already neutral, paint the trim, window frames, shutters, and other features that catch the eye. Painting interiors is a low-cost renovation that can have a huge impact on buyer perception.
Whichever type of home you have, there is one thing that always proves popular with buyers and that’s enough storage space. If you have existing built-in cupboards, make sure they are in tip-top shape: give them a fresh coat of paint, check that the shelves are secured and organized in the best possible way for optimum functionality.
Storage doesn’t just cover built-in cupboards, and there are multiple storage options available that can add to your property’s value even more. Think about things like pantry organization, adding a sectioned laundry room, or other shelving that adds functionality.
Additional Tips And Tricks For Home Improvement
The first thing experts advise is to make a renovation plan and stick to it. Once you start making little improvements it can be easy to get scope creep, which quickly leads to going over budget or over your planned timeline. Start by looking at some of the most basic parts of the home and in what condition they are – if there are built-in appliances, make sure they are working properly and are thoroughly cleaned.
Don’t fall into the trap of taking on expensive projects that are purely for personal merit. Not all renovations actively add to the value of the home and some can be a waste of time before selling. It’s better to take the time to research the market and get a better understanding of what buyers want. You can achieve this by looking at comparable homes in the area that have recently been on the market.
It’s also important to have a professional look over the electrical and plumbing system to check that everything is up to code. Any safety issues should ideally be addressed before the home goes on the market.
The Bottom Line
There are several improvements you can make to your property without breaking the bank or taking on any renovations that are too intensive. As long as you do your research, do careful planning surrounding improvements you want to make, and manage them effectively there should be no reason to skip out on home upgrades. Adding improvements to the property will ultimately lead to a better asking price, provided that they are in line with buyer expectations.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I upgrade before selling my house?
There is no set way to start but pay careful attention to the kitchen, bathroom, interior and exterior walls, flooring, storage, and the general curb appeal. You can learn more about the steps needed in our guides here, here, and here.
Is it better to renovate or sell?
When selling your home as is you might not be able to ask a higher asking price, or if the house is in rough condition it can compromise how many offers you get from the initial wave of potential buyers viewing the property.
Is it cheaper to renovate or buy new?
This will highly depend on the condition of the existing property. A new home will initially be more expensive, while older homes can sell for lower prices but have lots of hidden costs or expensive renovations needed that can really add up.