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Should You Renovate Before Selling?

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Should You Renovate Before Selling?
5 min. read
Image: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock.com

One of the many dilemmas facing sellers is whether to renovate before listing their home. This question crosses the mind of nearly every homeowner as they begin the process of getting their house ready to sell. Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple yes or no question, and it can take some time to determine whether it’s worth renovating or not.

Several factors come into play, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Below, we’ll go through the most important factors you’ll need to consider in order to make an informed decision.

What is the State of Your Home?

First and foremost, you need to work out what state your home is in. Do you own a turnkey house that is ready for a new owner to move into without having to do any work? Or do you own a house that has some major problems and is in urgent need of major repairs?

It’s a good idea to have the value of your home appraised in advance so that you know what you’re working with. A home inspection is another good idea, and with a professional taking a look over everything, you can be sure that you’re aware of any potential issues. Both of these services can be pricey, but they prevent any nasty surprises during the sales process.

What’s Your Market?

Next, you’ll need to work out who exactly will be interested in your home. What kind of market is it? In a seller’s market, you might get away with not making too many renovations to your home. However, in a slower buyers’ market, potential buyers will be more demanding. It’s very important that you do your research and work out which way the market is going in your area.

Depending on the state of your home, you might market it to buyers that are looking for a fixer-upper — mostly contractors and flippers. Bear in mind that it’ll command a lower price, but if you’re happy with that, you can avoid doing any renovations. If there’s a demand for fixer-uppers in your neighborhood, it’s worth knowing.

On the other hand, if more buyers are looking for a house that’s ready to go, or with just minor repairs needed, you need to bear that in mind. In this case, it can be a good idea to carry out the necessary renovations.

Balancing the Cost

With an idea of who’s looking at your home, you can start to weigh your options. Many people think that they’re guaranteed a return on their investment, and, ideally, you will be able to add renovations to the price of your home, but this isn’t always the case. Remodels hardly ever have an equal return on the initial investment.

Often, it’s better to spend less on cosmetic renovations, and bear in mind that most owners will want to put their own stamp on the place. As such, it’s not a good idea to spend $40,000 on a high-end kitchen that many potential buyers might not like.

Which Renovations Are Best?

Many homeowners will agree that the highest returns are from kitchen and bathroom remodels. However, it is best to keep things simple. To breathe new life into a kitchen, rather than gutting it and adding brand-new elements, you might be able to just repaint cabinet doors or perhaps replace the countertop. If your appliances are dated, you might consider upgrading them, but go mid-range at best.

The same is true for bathrooms. Never go all out, as what might seem like luxury to you, can be extremely off-putting to others. Replacing vanity tops or shower and bath elements is often all that needs to be done.

The most important thing is to allow potential buyers to envision their lives in your home. With that in mind, a deep clean and new paint will often suffice. Keep the palette neutral and avoid bold colors, which can limit your market. Cleaning up or replacing door handles and other hardware such as light fixtures is another cheap and effective way to make your home more attractive.

Finally, ensuring your curb appeal is top-notch is important for attracting buyers right away. It’s worth spending a little time and money getting the exterior of your home looking great, as many buyers will make their mind up within minutes of seeing your home as they arrive. Simply washing your driveway with a power washer or giving the exterior a coat of paint can make a huge difference.

Making it Work

Most of the time, it comes down to what you want to get from selling your home. If there’s a lot to be done, but you’d rather move out quickly and not spend the extra money getting it up to scratch, prepare to sell for a lower price. On the other hand, if you want to get a decent price for your home, it’s worth fixing up any major problems that are likely to put buyers off, such as much-needed roof repairs.

Large repairs should be tackled with caution, as you may discover a whole host of other issues that need addressing during the process, which can turn your renovations into a money pit. Think carefully about whether you can afford this or if it might be better to take a hit on the sale price.

Ultimately, most buyers are happy to work on minor projects they feel they’ll be able to tackle themselves to make your house their home. So, there’s no need to go overboard on renovating your home to the highest standard. Ensure it’s clean and neutral, and ideally without any major repairs, and most people will be happy to make a good offer.

Speak with your agent before taking on any major renovations and get their professional opinion. They’ll help you understand the market and what you can do to get the best price for your home.

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