What are the best improvements homeowners should make when they decide to sell their homes?

When a homeowner prepares to sell their property, they typically clean it up and reflect on repairs or improvements that will get them back more than their cost and help sell their home faster. Some repairs and improvements will return 100% to 200% or more of your cost, while others may not increase the property’s value at all.

The most productive improvement that can be made is to patch and paint every room on the property. We prefer to use a flat white primer and not tint the colors at all. The rooms look like a snowstorm, but they look larger and allow the buyer a “fresh palate” to paint the colors they want. If your property has wild and crazy wallpaper, it is well worth the effort and cost to remove it and paint the walls white.

The best return on your money for an upgrade cost is installing a new kitchen. We do not use custom cabinets, but ready-made cabinets from major home warehouses. If the cabinets are in good condition but need something to cheer them up, replace the countertop and backsplash.

We do this with 12 “x 12” granite tiles that we butt together and use the smallest possible grout line. Also, we added the same granite as a bull nose trim finish. The cost of granite is 1/10 to 1/20 of the cost of solid granite and the backsplash can be carried up to the walls to the bottom of the cabinet. It can also be installed in two to three days maximum using just a tile saw. This improvement will pay back many times its cost and has often made a difference in a property’s quick sale.

The property’s major mechanical systems include electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, and the roof. If a fuse box is what the property has, it is best to upgrade it with circuit breakers so that the buyer does not have to. Plumbing repairs are mandatory and usually just mean leaky faucets that need new washers or valves that the homeowner can screw in.

Heating and cooling systems should be checked and maintained, but not replaced, as it is best to give the buyer a closing table credit or slightly lower the sales price. If the roof is not leaking, clean it up and leave it alone. If you have a leak, repair and fix any stains on the ceiling or walls as soon as possible before listing the property. If the buyer protests the age of the roof, they should get the replacement and negotiate for a reduced purchase price.

Fix the landscaping, as it’s the first thing a prospective buyer sees. An investment of a few hundred dollars can get more people into the property and easily pay back many times the cost.

If there is a basement that has been partially or poorly finished, make the best repair possible to complete the job at the lowest possible cost. In some cases, it may be better to remove the old work and expose it.

One last thing we always do is get an inspection report from our inspector. We use this as a checklist of things that need to be fixed before a potential buyer has their inspector perform an inspection that scares them out of purchasing the property. Doing whatever it takes to keep your property clean, fresh, and presentable to potential buyers doesn’t have to cost a lot, but the return on the price you receive will be many times greater than your investment.

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