Should You Renovate Before Selling Your Home?

Couple Renovating

Let's play a friendly game of truth or dare. The question we're about to entertain focuses on whether to renovate before selling your home. If you picked truth, then you're probably debating on this very subject. If you play by dares, then you might have already been in this situation. Regardless, there's some pertinent information to contemplate.

Let's face it; the housing market is a fickle beast. That renovation you're considering might help sell the house, or it might not. According to, a $25,000 renovation has the potential of adding a couple hundred thousand dollars to the asking price. In the grand scheme of things, it costs you next to nothing. But how do you know which renovations are necessary versus not necessarily smart?

Tip #1: Erase Eyesores

Serious homebuyers want to see the house they're interested in purchasing. They want more than a drive-by peek, too. They want to step inside. Research indicates that the average buyer makes up their mind within two minutes of entering a house.

If your renovation fixes obvious eyesores that demand attention as soon as someone steps through the door, then it's probably a wise project. Renovations as simple as painting or papering the walls are weekend projects that can dramatically improve salability. They're also relatively easy on your wallet.

Sometimes we overlook obvious visual detractions because we live in the house every day. Ask a friend or colleague—someone who hasn't been in your house for a while—to drop by. Let them point out the eyesores that jump out as they walk in the door.

Tip #2: Kitchen Catchup

Gourmet Kitchen

One of the most considered rooms in the entire house is the kitchen. Granted, we're not all gourmet chefs, but we all spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It is, after all, where the food resides!

How up-to-date is your kitchen? If you're sporting outdated and old-fashioned appliances, you could very well find potential buyers reacting in one of two ways:

  • The Haggler: A potential buyer sees an outdated kitchen as a home improvement project. They're looking at those appliances and cringing. Moreover, they're silently debating on how much to take off the asking price since they will be tackling the renovation.
  • The Breaker: In today's market, the average buyer doesn't want to buy a fixer-upper. They want a house that's up-to-date and ready to move into. If your kitchen (or any other part of the house) requires noteworthy work, it can be an instant deal breaker that turns interested parties away.

Tip #3: Fix the Floor

hand scraped hardwood

It's easy to forget about what's right beneath our feet. Flooring can make or break any room. If you don't believe us, check out our flooring photo gallery. A stained carpet, dulled hardwood, or bubbling laminate floor can detract from your home's salability. In the long run, replacing versus cleaning may be the best bet. Pristine hardwood flooring could easily create a sizable increase in asking price and actually receiving that price.

Tip #4: Reconnaissance

When it comes to a good renovation, the sky is the limit. Chances are it will be a good investment to make before selling the house. However, it's prudent to conduct some neighborhood reconnaissance.

How does your house stack up against others on the same street or a few blocks over? If you live in a housing community, what features do other homes have that yours lacks? Compare your findings with the local housing market. What features do fast selling houses have? Are homebuyers looking for specifics? It's always wise to consider whether a renovation will add value in the eyes of the buyer before diving headfirst into the project investment.

Carefully Select the DIY Renovations

If you're serious about renovating the house with a view toward selling, there's one final suggestion to consider seriously. Carefully select the do-it-yourself versus the I-need-a-pro renovations.

You ultimate goal is to reap a greater return versus your investment. That return can quickly evaporate if you tackle crucial improvement projects without the experienced assistance of a professional. Consider:

  • Home additions must be up to code and pass inspection. Otherwise, they cannot and will not increase the value of your home.
  • A home must be inspected prior to closing. If you tackle vital essentials—like wiring and plumbing—on your own, the inspector could point out potential issues that turn away a buyer.
  • When power tools are involved, it's easy to cause more damage than improvement! Unless you're already skilled, it might be best to call on a pro.

Forget the dare and go with some truth! Before you dig into a value-upping renovation, get a free estimate from local pros. Compare the estimates to the out-of-pocket expenses and risks of tackling the project on your own. You just might find that a pro will reap a greater return in the long run.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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