In most cases, making home improvements right before you list
your home to sell is a losing proposition. You won't get a decent
return on your investment. You'll be lucky to break even.
The sad truth about major remodeling projects
Experts have studied the return on investment in common
home-improvement projects, and the results are in. For 2014,
magazine, you'll do well to recoup 49% of the costs of a
remodeled home office. A major kitchen remodel that costs more
than $50,000 does a little better: You may recoup 75% of your
outlay. A good new front door has one of the highest recoup rates
at about 97%.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't make strategic improvements to
your home before you sell. Put yourself in home buyers' shoes and
imagine their first impressions as they step into your entryway.
Making sure these things are in top shape can help you sell your
home more quickly. Also look for areas that are out of line with
the overall quality of your home. And definitely remove the "ew!"
factor whenever possible if something is garish, dumpy, or
impossible to clean.
If you watch your costs and have good taste, careful
improvements and repairs should more than pay you back when you
sell your home.
Consider these home improvements before you put your home on the
- On the exterior, a new coat of paint will give your house
the curb appeal it needs to sell quickly.
- Don't forget to spruce up the yard. Even if you have to get
a professional landscaper to do it, make sure everything is
cut, pruned, trimmed, and mulched. Keep your grass trimmed
without scalping it, and keep those dandelions at bay.
- The kitchen, in general, is the best place to invest money
in your house. However, you don't need to spend 50 grand.
Concentrate on what people see first. The condition of your
cabinets can make or break the sale. Cabinets that are more
than 15 years old may need to be replaced if you want to get
top dollar for your house. In a modestly priced home, make sure
the cabinets are clean and polished and consider new hardware,
or even a paint job.
- Countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms make a house stand
out from the crowd. If you replace your cabinets, you'll be
replacing the countertops anyway. If the countertops are in
poor condition, replace them. If you can afford it, a solid
surface (especially granite) will wow the buyers every time.
Replace tile countertops that are more than 10 years old,
unless you plan to spend money restoring the grout. If you have
tired old countertops, you may hear your potential homebuyer's
partner say, "But honey, the other house had granite
- Check all windows to make sure they work, none are cracked
or broken, screens are in good condition, and the glass is
clean, inside and out. This is important because you want to
open all curtains and blinds to let the light in when you show
the house, making your home a bright and cheerful place to
Must-do home repairs
Certain home repairs are not optional, however. If neglected,
these repairs may even be required by the home inspector --
you negotiate a price:
- Check for water intrusion of any kind or stains from old
- Make sure toilets flush properly.
- See that all faucets function properly with no
- See that your sinks drain quickly.
- Fix any doors that rub on the frame or the floor.
- Fill and touch up cracks.
- Look in attic or crawl space and fix any leaks, trash,
rodent activity and make sure all insulation is in place.
- Lightly clean off the roof and clean out the gutters.
- Replace the furnace filter.
- Clean the oven.
Your home may be your largest investment. Make sure you know
which remodeling projects won't pay you back when you sell, which
strategic home improvements give you the best return or help move
your home faster, and the home repairs you must make to close the
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