There are many factors that go into deciding what home improvements you should invest in before putting your home on the market. Most of my clients think they need to update their kitchen or bath in order to entice a buyer. But the reality is you have a much bigger hurdle to get over before you even begin to consider cosmetic upgrades! Your realtor has the inside knowledge of what really matters to buyers and what will make or break a sale. They most likely have had the advantage of viewing many other homes in your market, have been involved in many discussions as to the homes appeal, and unfortunately, have been a part of deals that fell through because a homeowner decided to spend all their reserves on new granite instead of replacing their worn out roof.
This brings me to my number one consideration. Before you make any cosmetic improvements to your home, make sure all major systems are in working order. The new tile or granite countertops won’t keep you from closing, but a roof that has reached the end of its life or an air conditioner that needs repair will. It is always best practice to have a pre-inspection before you list your property so that you know all major systems are in working order. Once you get a clean report from a licensed Home Inspector then consider the best cosmetic improvements for the quickest sale. A seller with an 8k reserve for improvements is better off replacing that 15 year old roof than upgrading the appliances. If your buyer cannot secure financing or obtain proper insurance on a property due to overlooked maintenance issues, then even the best cosmetic improvements won’t get you around a closing table.
Once all maintenance issues are resolved, look to your local Realtor to advise you on the types of finishes you will need to compete with other homes for sale in your area. If the recent sales of homes in your neighborhood max out at around 300K and your home is already valued at around 300k in its current condition, then one would be best to not spend additional money to upgrade the flooring, counters or any other costly improvements. You would be “over improving” your home for the area in which you live.
Keep this is mind once the repairs are done, one of the most cost effective and beneficial things a homeowner can invest in is cleaning supplies or a housekeeper. Buyers do not want to buy a dirty home. You know the old saying, “you only get one chance at making a first impression”? It rings true when showing your home as well. Smell and filth will make a buyer turn around at the door. So, once again, investing in those upgraded counters won’t matter because your buyer couldn’t even make it past the foyer.
So to recap in order of importance: A seller should first have a licensed home inspector inspect your home to determine all maintenance issues are resolved and your home is in working order. Next, contact a local Realtor to advise you on the current value of your home. Once current market value is established, determine if you need to do any upgrades to your home, all the while making sure these upgrades don’t overvalue your home for the neighborhood. And lastly, clean it up! A clean, odorless kitchen that may need a few updates is more appealing to most buyers than a dirty, smelly kitchen with new appliances. Hopefully, following these steps will get your home sold faster while keeping your equity where it belongs, in your pocket!