Should You Renovate Before You Sell?

Sellers looking for top dollar often consider home renovations to make it as appealing to buyers as possible. As we’ve previously discussed, we’re experiencing an extreme shortage of homes for sale right now, and we all know that low supply drives high demand. Buyers are competing for the limited homes on the market, and things are moving fast. So should you renovate before you sell? I’ll keep this one short.

Reading the Room

At this point, many buyers are willing to take on home improvement projects they might not otherwise, which means costly and time-consuming home renovations aren’t always the wisest course of action. That doesn’t mean you should run the vacuum cleaner around, light a candle, and wait for the offers to come pouring in. An experienced real estate agent will tell you that a few key updates can be a game changer – not so much for the sale, because right now, your home is going to sell – but for the final sales price and profit you may retain.  

Even in today’s frenzied seller’s market, the buyers who can afford to buy need to be able to move in immediately and plan for the large renovations later. The most important thing is to focus on value for return, and these are the upgrades that will serve you well:

  • Professional painting: A coat of paint is relatively inexpensive and quick to accomplish with a great service professional.  It will go miles towards making your home feel “new” and ready to move into.  
  • Updating or repairing flooring: One of the things that can’t easily be done after move-in day is sanding or replacing flooring or carpets. A good tradesman can often sand or repair scratched floors, and replacing old flooring with a good vinyl tile that looks like wood is the cost-effective go-to for agents these day. It goes a long way to giving the home a brand new look and current feel and allows buyers to overlook larger projects they may want to take on over time. 
  • Replacing old appliances: Yes, there is a backlog and long wait times on refrigerators and appliances due to COVID. But with a little planning (that is, knowing you’re planning on selling in a few months), replacing that old stove, dishwasher or fridge will give you a huge bang for the buck when it comes to your final sales price. 
  • Final items that are inexpensive and create enormous value include replacing old light fixtures and door handles on cabinets.  Having the painters paint old cabinets in bathrooms and the kitchen makes them look new and updated without much time or expense and gives buyers the impression they can live with it until they have the time and the money to do a more intense upgrade. 

Pro Tip

As agents, we regularly remove old window treatments to let the light in for the sale. Replacing them with cheaper or even more expensive options almost never pays itself back, which is why in new developments, and even in a buyer’s market, you won’t see developers including them.  

Above all, any money you spend for the sale should be both necessary and likely-bordering-on-guaranteed to add money to the final offer price. In Reno and San Francisco, I’m happy to offer suggestions, share my trusted vendor recommendations, and generally offer counsel for putting your best foot forward. Feel free to ping me.

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