Home > Blogs > Fix This, Not That: 6 Tasks to Do (or Not to Do) Before You Sell

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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

Fix This, Not That: 6 Tasks to Do (or Not to Do) Before You Sell

Online, you can find dozens and dozens of return-on-investment (ROI) calculators which aim to do the math on whether a given home improvement project is worth the money (or not). They tend to focus on how much of the remodeling spend will come back to you in the form of added value when the home is sold.  I submit that this is only one part of the equation, as the primary measurement for many home improvement projects should be tallied up in terms of lifestyle improvement over the years you plan to benefit from the increased comfort, joy or efficiency of your newly-improved home.

Surprisingly, this calculus of what home upgrades are (and aren’t) worth doing gets slightly more complicated in the context of preparing a home for sale.  It seems like it should be even more simple - dollars in vs. dollars out.  But most agents or stagers will tell you that preparing a property for listing is more art than science, in that there are many human factors that must be weighed and balanced against the costs involved. 

For instance, whether a given project is worth doing sometimes depends on the current state of the property vis-a-vis local buyers’ expectations at that price range.  It can also depend on the relative aesthetic and perceptual boost that a particular project promises, and on any negatives that the property needs to compensate for.  The seller’s budget and even local municipal codes all must be factored in.

Accordingly, there’s no single set of black-and-white rules that apply to every property and every seller.  But here are some rules of thumb and food for thought that you should walk through with your agent or stager if you’re in the process of trying to figure out which tasks to do - and which to leave for your home’s next owner - before you put your place on the market.

FIX:  Paint. There is simply no accounting for the massive upgrade a fresh coat of paint can bring to the look and feel of your home, inside and out - especially given the relatively low cost and high do-it-yourself-ability of painting.  A home that is freshly painted inside and out reads as fresh, clean and ready for new life, from a buyer’s perspective.  A taupe wall with white trims and moldings has essentially become the new white wall of this generation - the aim is to go neutral, not boring.

If you can’t afford the time or cost to paint everything, take a hard look at your walls and rooms and see which hallway or room(s) need it the most.  Also, painting your trims, doors and moldings can go a long way toward de-shabbifying a place.  Similarly, on the exterior of your home, I cannot overstate the polish potential of painting the trims a bright or deep, color. Changing the color and refreshing the paint on your exterior shutters, doors and eaves gives a powerful update and burst of color to the place. 

Check in with your stager and agent about your color palette for any pre-listing paint projects before you have the hardware folks mix up a vat of chartreuse semi-gloss for the kitchen walls.

DON’T FIX:  That uber-luxe kitchen remodel you always wanted. Do gorgeous kitchens sell homes? Yes. But they also easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Unless your home’s existing kitchen is truly cringe-worthy, a high-end overhaul just before listing is not likely to even recoup what you spend on it. I advise sellers who are hemming and hawing about a kitchen remodel to do it while they and their families can still enjoy it.  If you’ve already decided to move on from the home and the kitchen is so bad as to render the place un-sellable, your agent and stager can help you come up with a moderate plan for whipping it into shape without breaking the bank.  Repainting or refacing cabinets (instead of replacing them), installing butcher block counters (vs. marble or stone) and replacing your avocado green appliances with nice GE or Kenmore versions (vs. Wolf and Miele) might be the route to go. 

Caveat: if your home is competing with luxury properties and you insist on listing it at top dollar, you might actually have to go with a higher-end kitchen upgrade plan before you list it. Think long and hard about whether this make more sense than simply discounting the property or offering a kitchen upgrade credit to the buyer.

FIX:   Plumbing problems.  Plumbing leaks make noise, cause damage to the wood structure and areas around them and are often believed by buyers to cost more to fix than they actually do. In some parts of the home, plumbing leaks are prone to being called out as conditions conducive to long-term structural problems by pest and structural inspectors. If you can have a handyman or plumber come in and eliminate drips and leaks, you will simultaneously eliminate some buyers’ objections or concerns about your home. 

And this goes for sewer line issues, too.  An increasing number of areas are now requiring that the sewer line from home to the sewer main in the street be inspected before or during a home’s sale - and be repaired or replaced if it is cracked or broken.  If you’ve had chronic backups or your home’s sewer line is simply due for an inspection, work with your agent to get the appropriate inspector out there now to get an understanding of what sewer line work will need to be done to comply with any local point-of-sale ordinances.

A new sewer line is a great draw for a buyer, as is one with a clean bill of health. If your line does need work, you and your agent might decide not to repair or replace it, based on your budget, how much of a seller’s market your area is currently experiencing, legal requirements and standard practices in your area. But you should have the state of the sewer line in mind, for better or for worse, before you set the list price for your home and begin preparing your disclosures for prospective buyers.

DON’T FIX:  Malfunctioning, costly appliances.  Consider offering a credit for the buyer to use to replace appliances that don’t work - or don’t work well. Buyers appreciate the ability to select their own new appliances on your dime. That said, it can be difficult for some buyers to get past the collective aura of bad repair that arises when a home has a whole host of really old or beat up appliances.  In some cases, it might even make sense to simply remove an appliance entirely, without replacing it at all.  In others, a replacement or a credit might make more sense - this is a topic for discussion with your listing agent, who should have a good understanding of what’s normal in your area and important to local buyers.

If you do decide to replace an appliance, consider resources like Craigslist, where you might be able to find used items in good repair at a fraction of the new cost.

Caveat: if you are in a price point or area where the average buyer uses an FHA loan to finance their home, there are certain appliances which must be in the home at closing, like a functional stove.  Discuss with your agent before you start ditching the old appliances.

FIX:  Old and outdated hardware, fixtures and finishes.  Hardware can refer to the little metalworks that make things work (or not) throughout your home, like hinges that make a door hard to close, cabinet and drawer handles and pulls or your closet door and drawer slides.  These are all the sorts of things buyers test out while they’re viewing a home. However, it also includes things that might work fine, but look outdated, like light switches, door knockers and kick plates.  Hardware, as a general rule, is inexpensive as home fixes go - if it will make your home function more smoothly and look like it’s been well cared-for, the low investment is well worth an upgrade.

Scuffed and scratched wood floors; 80’s era carpet, gold-plate lighting and faucet fixtures and even more recent upgrades that have seen better days (e.g. bowing and warped laminate floor sections) should all go on the list of finishes and fixtures to fix or replace before you list.  All cracks, chips, scuffs and nicks should go on the list, for that matter.

The rationale is the same: they are a highly cost-efficient fix vis-a-vis the big bang they make on your home’s appearance to buyers.

DON’T FIX:  Replacing old windows.  This is a project that many crave to do, especially if the windows are single-pane, aluminum framed, or involve rotten wood casings.  But it’s also a project that can easily become extremely expensive, and one that often snowballs into costly, time-consuming framing repairs.  Aluminum frames around windows can sometimes be spruced or painted to make them look at bit better, if absolutely necessary. And even old wood windows that have issues often create a generally charming feeling that helps a buyer see the home’s potential they can restore, better than if you replace it with inexpensive fiberglass windows before listing the place for sale. 

This advice is primarily for those tempted to replace a whole house worth of windows - if you have one window that is particularly offensive or allows water in, or even have multiple window panes that are cracked or broken, these are things you might want to repair or replace.  Your agent can help you make a suitable action plan on this score.

By contrast, if you have old, dinged, ugly or broken doors, toilets and sinks anywhere in your house, these are things you may want to rip out and replace before listing your home.  You might be amazed at how fast and inexpensively these fixes can be done, and how much of a stylistic upgrade and update you can get out of them. 

Recent Sellers: What fixes did you do before you listed your home?  How did that work out, in the end?

Agents: What other fixes do you recommend sellers-to-be do - or refrain from doing?  Why?

ALL: You should follow Tara and Trulia on Facebook!


By Jordan,  Thu May 16 2013, 10:06
We did a lot of removing of clutter and we painted inside where it was scrapped of on trim. We also painted the outside of our house trim because a lot of it was flaking off. We got 5 offers in two days. :) We are happy.
By Isaac,  Thu May 16 2013, 10:17
By John Crowe,  Thu May 16 2013, 10:23
The market drives a lot of what should or shouldn't get done. With 2.6 months of inventory, I suggest my sellers do nothing and see what the first few days bring. In most cases, multiple offers are made and it's gone.
By Alma Rose Kee, P.A.,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:08
Isaac's question about roof replacement is a good one in Tampa because a buyer can get a significant savings on Hazard insurance. I had a first time homebuyer's purchase almost fall apart because of the $3,200 per year hazard insurance. The Seller, Buyer, listing Realtor and myself all chipped in and covered the cost for a new roof. The insurance with new roof and hurricane clips reduced to $1,200 saving the Buyers $2k per year and allowing the buyer to still qualify for an FHA mortgage.
By Mark Williams,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:09
I agree with all of your recommendations... but I would stress carpet! Fresh new carpet is one of the best return on investment fixes a seller can do. I realize the sellers often resist saying that they want to let the buyer pick color and style... but with old smelly carpet the "buyer" frequently won't even make the offer! And even in this market these smart fixes pay off!
By Denise Baker,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:15
Do not scare your seller away with all the details of doing this and that in your initial meeting.
My experience is that although we may know these fix-ups will yield a less hesitant buyer and will appeal to more buyers, in general...some owners have a vision of not spending another dime on their property when listing. Finding out if they have any money alloted to the fix ups and how much, can start the conversation in a way that is comfortable to them.
By Arlene Aadland,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:18
by Excperienced Senior Lady
I hired a professional certified home inspector. It was worth the $650! I repaired the roof,
updated plumbing, electrical,every electrical switch, appliances, repaired drywall, painted
with highend paint, landscaping, spotless house. moved out, staged. House had previously
appraised for $750,000. Sold in one week for $825,000.
By Anita Flynn,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:28
I'm a REALTOR and Stager in CT. In our area, unless the buyer is looking for a deep discount, they won't even get out of the car unless there is a neat and clean, inviting entry!! Replace/repair any cracked, pitted or broken front walks or stairs. Even a neat pea-gravel path is better than broken stone or concrete. Plus there may be a liability there in case someone falls or twists an ankle! Be sure to replace the handset on the front door (or whatever door they are going to enter by), and possibly paint it, so entry is quick, easy and enjoyable. Provide a nice new coco-mat outside on the step and a nice new rug inside for them to wipe their feet (most won't take off their shoes even if you ask). If it's summer, plant some nice bright flowers in pots and put the on the step or at the entrance to the steps....It's all about what they are going to EXPERIENCE every day when they arrive home to their "new" house! Oh! And if you have a mailbox on a post, PLEASE paint and maybe get a new box. Nothing worse than driving up and looking for an address, only to find it on a beat-up mailbox that is leaning half over! A few flowers planted around it will also improve that all-important first impression! If you cannot dig in the ground near your mailbox, plant a substantial pot and set it next to the post. Good luck to all Sellers!
By pbrown,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:35
This is a good quick list. I believe some attention should be focused on the floors as well. If you could get by with a resurface vs replacement it may be helpful. Just like a fresh coat of paint or fresh carpet, the impression prospective buyers get is that the place was renewed for them. Also, check out the remodeling cost vs value report 2013 for guidance on the value of certain remodel jobs. http://www.costvsvalue.com
By Ryan Lancaster,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:49
If you are trying to sell a half million dollar home, it needs to look like a half million dollar home, with up graded flooring and granite countertops. Buyers spending over $500,000 are looking for move in ready and top of the line flooring and countertops.
By Pattikick,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:52
what about cleaning up an above ground pool. We did not really "close" our pool last year and now that we are selling should we take the time to clean out the leaves shock it fill it etc???
By Jerry Galloway,  Thu May 16 2013, 11:54
FIX popped windows. Clouded dual-pane windows are a sure inspection call. Save bucks by using your schedule and contractor, and some windows have life-time warranties (Milguard...).
By nonamenoname,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:06
And what is the purpose of replacing nice brass hardware just because its shiny instead of dark? Replacing very expensive brass on every single door handle, hinges, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures throughout the house is VERY expensive and not needed. It was perfect when the house was built, and even acceptable less than 10 years ago. If we ever have to sell the house, that is one thing I'm not wasting money to change. It won't get me any more money for the house. Before you know it, people are going to want brass fixtures again, so why waste the time and money taking it out.
By Jami Scholl,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:08
I don't think I am a typical buyer, Mark Williams, because I know that if the carpet is replaced then that is tacked onto the price. With my son's allergies carpet is not an option, besides the off-gassing of chemicals into the air over time. So the thought of needing to rip out new carpet that I might have paid for to then invest in laminated, hardwood or bamboo floors (often more expensive) makes me shudder. If a listing says says "New Carpet" I immediately cross it off of my list.
By Voices Member,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:09
I think these are all great ways to boost the value of your home. Paint being the biggest selling point for the smaller amount. If you are short on cash and time, try and at least update our house's paint job.

David | http://www.danielgoodmanlaw.com/
By Renee Pappy,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:33
Clean, clean, clean! This costs very little and means so much. An immaculate house will sell quicker and bring more money. It speaks volumes to the buyer about how the house was taken care of (or not). Make the entryway cheerful and welcoming. Buy an new welcome mat and put a pot of (real live) flowers at the door. Buying a nice comforter for the beds. New shower curtains, nice towels and rugs for the bathrooms also go a long way to presenting these rooms well. Clear everything off your refrigerator and kitchen counters. Remember, less is more when you are trying to sell your home. If you don't believe it, just visit some model homes. You only need just the right amount of furniture and décor. Don't overdo it!! De-clutter!! Box it up and put it in your attic or garage if you need to. Remember to open your blinds or window coverings when you have a showing and put the TV or radio on a soft jazz channel to set the mood. Remove family photos. You want your potential buyer to make an emotional connection to your house. If they are looking at all your photos, they feel like they are visiting someone else's home instead of picturing their stuff in your house. It also distracts them from looking at your house! If your carpets are old or dirty at the very least get them cleaned. Flooring and paint speak volumes to make a good or bad first impression on buyers, so if you can afford it, paint a NEUTRAL color like beige (not a stark white) and install a beige carpet. Make sure your lawn and yard follow the same rules- clean, clean, clean. Mow, edge, trim your bushes, cut back trees if necessary and clean your pool if you have one. Pressure wash your concrete and/or outside of your house if it is not pristine clean. Look at your house with a buyers eyes!!
By Buddy Pope,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:34
Totally depends on what market you are and in what price range within that market. A rule of thumb is to spend $$ where you can cover the most square footage as in carpeting or painting walls or ceilings, and in countertops if they are poor. Nice counter tops simply do not cost what they used to and are almost an expectation in the markets I serve. Also, fix the main entrance approach because I am a big believer in first impressions; eg: if there is a brick walkway approach but it is covered in weeds then get those weeds out of there...a power washer works nicely and is not so hard on the environment, but don't overdo it because any loose mortar might become looser!

Buddy Pope, The POPE of REALTY... http://www.thepopeofrealty.com
By Mariangel Wilkinson,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:39
In our area, northwest Houston, TX, a new granite counter top in the kitchen and master bath can literally make the sale in the nicer neighborhoods. If the cabinets are fine but the counters are old, new hardware and new granite can cost only $4-6,000 and bring in an extra $10k on the sale and sell in a few weeks instead of months. Next to paint, this is the way to go.
By Patty Molinares,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:41
By Madeline Murphy, Thu May 16 2013,3:35
Pet odor and smokers are oblivious to how their home smells as they live with it day out and day in. Painting the interior of the home and washing table tops, lamp shades, nick nacks, and replacing or at the very least shampoo the carpet and include daily doses of carpet fresh. Some fresh flowers and and a lightly sented candle also helps. Pets need to be bathed. Nothing turns a buyer off more then a home that does not smell fresh. This rule of thumb also applies to cigarette/cigar smokers. Also, be sure to check the a/c filter and replace.
By Linda Mosca,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:49
I was surprised by all the mentions of new carpets here. As a buyer who just found a new home, I was put off by room after room of carpeting. People who are moving up from apartment living have experienced first-hand hard-to-clean beige carpeting (the only inexpensive kind). Families with small children and/or pets don't relish the upkeep either. And many people simply prefer hard wood or laminate flooring with area rugs. Also, someone needs to stress that neutral means just that ... I've seen dozens of houses that have elaborate tile designs in bathrooms and kitchens in multiple shades of good-old-"neutral" beige. The tile design may suit you, but really limits the next owner's decorating options. Keep it simple.
By patricia.darosa,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:58
What about flooring? when we bought our house, we were planning to update the flooring (kitchen and main entrance) since there was an ugly vinyl tile, but because of money, we decided to do it later. If we want to sell the house, is it worth to remodel the flooring or not? What material should I choose in terms of investment for the house price?
By Christine Curtin,  Thu May 16 2013, 12:59
I'm a REALTOR and recent home-seller. Our stove died a month before we put our house on the market. Our kitchen was the major selling feature of our house and we knew not to cheap out - we got the stainless, five burner, gas range that matched our newer dishwasher rather than the 'stainless look' or more base model.
By Kayle Walker,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:05
Great article! New paint and replacing outdated hardware/fixtures is a great, inexpensive way to improve the look of a place. I definitely recommend this to my clients to get the most money out of their property.
By Lydia Franz,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:05
I totally agree with the paint, I am a Realtor and I can tell you fresh paint makes the house seem new, just make sure it is a good paint job! Sloppy paint and sheetrock work will only turn the buyers off. Another even less expensive fix is Pressure washing. Do the house, the sidewalks, the driveway and the garage. Makes a huge difference and also re caulk all the windows. That will also help save on the power bill.
By KeithKnob,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:14
Good point Linda, if you need to replace carpet (no hardwood underneath), consider upgrading at least a part of the carpet to something that is obviously nicer, but in line with the feel of your home. A little extra cost for a textured carpet for just the living room (for example) can make a huge difference in "wow" factor when people walk in the door...even if the bedrooms are still neutral "apartment style" carpet. We did that and get comments on it all the time...
By Cary R,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:17
I agree with all the recommendations. The fresh paint, redo worn carpet, clean pavers, etc. I was surprised no one specifically mentions landscaping. We put down new premium mulch, planted grass where needed, pruned a tree and improved the curb appeal for drive by viewing. I feel it added a lot and didn't cost a bundle. In addition, we had no choice but to replace our roof. I feel a new roof, and the new furnace we also had to replace will comfort a buyer who won't have to do those improvements and will get a warranty transfer for many years coverage. I hope those improvements pay for themselves.
By harleyrider6671,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:20
I painted put up new oak trim, new architectural shingled roof,new furnace,windows,asphalt driveway,new appliances,2,350 sq ft home on a lake ready to sell!
By Jorge Vega,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:22
Paint is always a suggestion and in some cases a must, floors are also big. If you have wood floors consider buffing them, it's economical and will make your house look brand spanking new. Same with carpets.
By Pat Wuschke,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:23
#1 Entry must be inviting. Flower pots, painted door, RED? #2 Paint, taupe or khaki tan with bright white trim. #3 If kitchen is lackluster, change out sink and faucet, same in baths. #4 De-clutter every
where, closets, all rooms, counter tops, frig. #5 CLEAN, clean and clean more. #6 Bake cookies B4
open houses, turn all lights on, open all drapes, curtains or blinds. Let the light shine.
By Wally,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:45
Before we put ours on the market, we painted in neutral colors, put in inexpensive carpeting, a bit of landscaping, powerwashed the homes exterior and some painting, powerwashed and clear sealed the decks, and cleaned the heck out of the insides. Our buyer even moved the frig and stove out to look under and behind. She laughed cuz it was as clean as the rest of the house. Put in a new inexpensive stainless steel sink and replaced the water damaged shelf under the sink. Stupid things one would never think of doing, we did. Did it FSBO and had a contract for full asking price in 6 days. We had an older steel bathtub with some staining. We paid a guy to re-glaze it to brand new looking.
By ljosull,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:46
What do you think about selling a house completely empty ( new paint job, hardwood floors) vs. paying to have it staged?
By Stephanie,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:49
I live in Baltimore where there are a lot of older homes and people who like to flip houses almost always will remodel the kitchen for their flip. This was THE MOST ANNOYING THING while I was shopping for my house. I got sick of seeing a "cheap" remodeled kitchens propping up the buyer's asking price. At best, I would want to make a lot of costly changes to the kitchen, at worst I'd have to rip the whole thing out ... just the thought of doing something so wasteful is upsetting. I'd rather find a dead rat under a crusty old stove than do-over a new kitchen.
By Jes S,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:51
Egress window? We have a bedroom in our basement with no window, so we technically cannot list it as a bedroom. Therefore we have a 2 bedroom house that *could* be a 3 bedroom house. How will our return on adding a window compare to the cost of putting it in? (Whether it be the speed of selling or the price we can get out of the house.)
By lhines9234,  Thu May 16 2013, 13:55
When my soon-to-be husband got ready put his 100 year old craftsman house on the market, I suggested he reface the kitchen cabinets (they were a terrible, 80's style off-white laminate cabinet door with oak trim across the top) and replace the 80's track lighting with light fixtures more in keeping the the craftsman style. He had had this home less than a year and was hesitant to spend a lot of money on it to get it ready to sell but the $4k investment paid off: the house sold one day after being put on the market (hadn't even hit the MLS --- the first person his realtor showed it to make an offer that was $1k less than asking price). Other than the cabinets and lighting, we jsut freshened up paint in the rooms that needed it, made sure everything was clean and decluttered and were thrilled when the house sold so quickly.
By Peter Lake,  Thu May 16 2013, 14:08
I've had FOUR houses fall out of contract this year because of significant faults which we discovered after inspection.

Often you can make some repairs cheaper than the buyer will calculate they may be worth.
"I didn't know nothing was holding up the middle of the house" was a line I heard three times on 200+ year old houses and I am tired of hearing it.

Did you think my inspector wasn't going to find out what's wrong with your house?

Even if you dont want to fix something you should know what's wrong with your house.
By eaklebe,  Thu May 16 2013, 14:55
I did have my house inspected before putting it on the market. I told the inspector that I wanted a very detailed report so I could make any repairs needed. When the prospective buyers made an offer for 10K below list price, we accepted it. They had an inspector come in also, of course. The buyer's inspector said a number of things were wrong (none were) and the buyer wanted another reduction of 15K. We told them to take a hike.
By highnotehelper,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:04
Flooring is very important. The buyer of the first home we sold commented about how much he liked the new ceramic tile in the kitchen. The buyer of the second home we sold commented about how much he liked the new carpet runner we had installed on the staircase. I think floors can make a huge difference. New can be important to a buyer who gets an older home.
By Alec Javan,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:08
Great advice, actually not a fix, but some sellers would do a great service to themself by just moving the unwanted items out of the house. Decluttering will go a long way.
By Roseann Staaf,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:19
We as agents understand the seller would prefer not to spend more money on a home they are selling. But sellers need to understand that their home is going to be competing for buyers with homes that may have more updates, or recently painted...If you want to sell quickly, make it move in ready for the buyer. They need to picture themselves living there. They want to picture their furnishings in the home without having to paint or replace the carpet first.
By sammyegail,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:22
I'd like to add something, an updated exterior light fixture. We are about to list our house, while looking at some, a nice looking, inviting porch light fixture made me more interested in seeing the inside. We currently live in a small community that has covinants, all our light fixtures have to be the same. That presents a problem. Ours in a 3 story detached townhouse. The houses were re-painted last year (thankfully!). In addition I took down and repainted the light fixtures on the 3 decks. I used a gray paint that matched very well, sanded the metal, put on 2-3 coats, then sprayed them with a strong protective coating. After a year they look brand new, which is amazing living in FL with the salt air corrodes all metal. I'll have to do at least 2 more, side entrance and side garage door, probably should do the ones on each side of the garage. I thought I'd throw re-painting light fixtures to give them a clean updated look. Another good idea is new or cleaned house numbers. I bought new ones at the same time last year, they started corroding within a few weeks. I'll take them down, sand and repaint them black. I have 2 questions about preparing the house for sale; we have fresh paint, but the living area is a soothing blue/green. My sons bedroom is a pale green. They are nothing horrible looking, I get a lot of compliments on my living area. I dread the idea of re painting it all, it's a huge space. I hope it's not a deal breaker. Also the house is all hardwood except the kitchen and baths, they are tile. The hardwoods were not done very well by the builder, they need to be re-done. They look 'dry'. We planned to give an allowance for that. We would do it but furniture in the rooms is a problem! They don't look hidious, but it definitely needs to be done. Would the hardwoods looking dry be a big issue? Our agent is coming next week, I know I can find out more then but it's hard to wait! Thanks for anyone's input!
By Adk,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:27
We can paint, no problem, but should we go for neutral colors (we have a lot of bold color rooms).

By Andrea Marcantonio,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:28
Man, I'm getting tired just reading all this. But we did repaint our pool decking today and it looks great!
I agree with everybody, nice, clean, fresh and uncluttered sells the house. Good decorating helps too.
By Andrea Marcantonio,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:29
ADK, go neutral. bold colors won't appeal to as many people and all they will see is a big job ahead.
By Phigitmelbourne,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:32
As a buyer and seller of many house, I agree with highnotehelper, floors make a massive statement. Spend the money and reap the rewards.
By William Toll,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:37
I just sold my house in 17 days, while other homes are selling in as little as one day in the Metro Detroit Suburbs. I painted with neutral tones that are popular. It's amazing that most homeowners do not paint their homes. We wipe down our out of date Oak cabinets with English Oil and made them shine. I use magic erasers to clean up the formica counter tops. Replaced the smaller toilets with new larger ones. Replaced the HW Heater. Refinished our Oak floors -very inexpensive. Painted both exterior doors. Replaced the microwave and dishwasher with chrome ones- they were either broken or over 10 years old. Put in wood blind windows. Replace the carpet in two bedrooms, but the rest of the rooms our realtor told us to just shampoo it. We also installed a inexpensive nice porcelain backsplash around our Jetted Tub and vanity in our master bathroom- hint: Our jetted tub is nicer than most by the ways- skip the cheaper one person jetted tub and put in the heart shaped 2 person jetted tub if you can afford it, it makes much more since- don't cheap out on such a selling point. Put in Travertine tile also like we did, looks so much better than the cheap looking porcelain tile or builders grade stone tile and it cost not much more. We also re-roofed our 2.5 car garage, replaced the garage door with an opener, and replaced the garage side door. While our house is a cape cod on a slab, it took a bit longer to sell because of that. Get your house inspected by the city inspectors, not just a home inspector, to the current code and get it approved. Replace all of faucets also. While most home owners are clueless when it comes to landscaping, it does make the house much more appealing as well. Brick pavers are a plus. We added basic cabinets to our laundry room and had them stained cherry.

While we are in the market for a home now, we have yet to fine a home in great shape with Cherry Cabinets, Granite counters, Brazilian Cherry Floors and Stainless Steel appliances- just one, and even with the smokers home, it was sold for 10 K over list price of 310 K. Don't cheap out on your home repairs, a few extra dollars in repairs are worth it. To those home owners that remodel your bathrooms, past up the one piece cheap vanity and go with those nice two sink vanities that Costco has.
By Bob,  Thu May 16 2013, 15:49
Had my house on the market for seveeral months. Main objection was the large art collection I have, and the paint in the foyer, large living room, dining room and main hallway between the bedrooms. Decided to take the house off the market for several weeks and have those areas painted in the color of the year---Lemon Sorbet. Took most of the art work down and BINGO, in one week had over 30 showings and 3 offers! Total cost was about $2,000 and well worth it!
By Jesus Armendariz,  Thu May 16 2013, 16:14
Do not forget the front of the house; Is it convinient to do the landscaping or just clean it ? To sell a house ; make it attractive the goal is to determine what kind of look, feel, and finish-up is the norm in the neighborhooh.
By Eileen Morgan,  Thu May 16 2013, 16:18
Just taking out tired and dated furniture can be the trick.
By John Haaland,  Thu May 16 2013, 16:36
New siding?
By Jeffkrason,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:01
If you going to do all the upgrades that are suggested above, you might as well just stay where you are and you will save a boat load of money by not moving. Sorry realtors and finance people, but the cold hard truth is purchasing a new home today is not the investment that it once was.
By Sharon O'roke,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:06
Question. I am readying my home for sale. It is updated with lots of street appeal. However, I have a pool and the deck coating has spalled and cracked. I have received several estimates ranging from $7500-13,000. The are so many choices to make that I am hoping to offer a credit for about half of the cost of the re-do, since it is really cosmetic. I have outdoor rugs that I use that hide most of the "ugly". Should I go ahead and recoat the deck, or put it on the market as is. What about offering a credit for half of the repair? Should I wait until I get an offer to counter with something that includes splitting the cost of the re-deck. Thanks!
By Daniele Hesse,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:09
We sold our house in 2006 at the top of the market to someone who wanted to rehab it. We put in a real wood floor in the kitchen, redid the pantry with oak shelves and replaced the driveway asphalt. The house set down a little from the road so when a hail storm finished off the old roof we added $500 to the insurance settlement for an architectural shingles. The curb appeal was good, the kitchen looked upscale and the view to the back yard ( field and trees) cinched the deal.
By Sujita Kumar,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:11
Depending on your Sellers budget, area where home is and the market craze for the area, a Sellers agent can then make proper suggestions to their Seller/s. Yes, I agree that some quick, cheap fixes before market date and instead of the expensive repairs can bring in good return on sellers investment. I also know as a Realtor that a good smelling home that is immaculately cleaned can still sell despite the upgrades! Again it all depends on what the seller's budget is and what the Realtor has to work with in terms of repair suggestions and all depending on how much more the seller wishes to make from the sale. Thanks..
By Dennis Evans,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:22
I think that each home is so much different and that it is critical to identify the main issues of the property. The way to do that is to walk the property with a home owner and write down the main issues, costs etc. , Then come up with a logical game plan to get the home in ship shape.
By Patrick Williams,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:23
The idea of getting a contractors inspections prior to putting a house on the market is wise. I didn't do that myself, as I am or was a painting contractor and familiar with what a inspector will look for in my home. The very first thing I did was tackle the under the kitchen sink project. I tore out all the drywall and replaced it with new. Removed and rebuilt part of the cabinetry, assembled the plumbing and routed water lines in a correct looking fashion. Labeled the disposal outlet... 14 hours later I was done, nobody will ever know the amount of money I saved myself there. As it end up I do need another faucet...
Next my pool, filling cracks in the plaster, hydraulic cement on the tiles I needed to steal from the steps for the surround and now Im ready to Epoxy Coat the lining two coats, Im doing it in Black it stays 95 degrees in the summer.
Yard clean up, I spent a week doing that...
Next the roof, the black roof tiles I placed up there will be replaced with the correct color b4 that inspector comes to take a look see. Around the fireplace I will tar and do it in a str8 line for cleanliness sakes.
The fireplace stack I will clean the creosote out of it, just in case. I will use a dyi method for that.
Any interior bricks that need hydraulic cement I will use the leftovers from the pool. Now granted now that Im on disability I have all the time in the world to do the labor, seriously its the labor that will kill anyone on these projects and believe me they are time consuming and sometimes I dread doing them except for the fact that I know it gets me closer to getting out of here. Maybe I will plant some poseys by my front door for effect but in any case I will be prepared for the BS any buyer tries to pull wanting money off for BS repairs when they wont be needed.
By rvnrock,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:25
Always love reading your ideas and comments, Tara. Keep it up!
By Patrick Williams,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:30
Wow, seriously? thats sweet... I had no idea... I removed the "old" part in case it would incriminate me
By Mary,  Thu May 16 2013, 17:49
I am very sick of everyone saying taupe and beige and brownish colors are "neutral"! Thay are horrible colors and I will NOT have them in my house!! Blues and bright colors are beautiful and don't look like someone has barfed in your house. Mary in Dallas Tx
By Joseph Cosentino,  Thu May 16 2013, 18:22
Most buyers today are looking for updated homes and new appliances.

Kitchen and bathrooms should be remodeld if the seller is looking to get top dollar return on investment.

Keep things releituve to the area you don't want to be the highest listed house on the market but you do want the upgrades to stand out to buyers.

Granite counter tops , stainless steel appliances , wine cooler and spa shower are attractive upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.

Fresh coat of bright colored paint white trim and doors and crown molding in the bed rooms are a nice upgrade.

Furniture should be staged and remove any large pieces to open up the space.

These small upgrades can bring a higher selling price. Thank you,

Joseph Cosentino
Morris Park Realty
By Mom,  Thu May 16 2013, 18:28
A pigged up place won't sell--Check the neighborhood, if it's desirable, just cleaning the place up should work. If the location and neighborhood are undesirable--lots of luck!
By Susan Fore,  Thu May 16 2013, 18:32
I have a 2-bedroom townhouse which had an option for a third bedroom but I chose to keep the loft open as I worked from home and this was my office. It is about 22 x 16. I can legally put up a wall and door for the third bedroom. Should I do it or just list it as having the potential to be a 3 bedroom. Actually, the basement is finished with an egress window so it has the potential to be a legal 4 bedroom. I am leaning against the work and just having an estimate available so buyers would know the actual cost if they wanted to do it themselves. Thoughts? (I am in Chicagoland where the market is not recovering as strongly as in other markets.)
By Lisa Gould Doherty,  Thu May 16 2013, 19:32
DECLUTTER!!! It's FREE and the Seller might GAIN a little by donating or selling items that no longer have a purpose. Buyers need to see walls, windows, floors, lighting fixtures, and cabinets. Seeing the Seller's "personal stuff" leaves them curious about the Seller, not the home itself. Family portraits should be displayed minimally. Keep just a few pieces of artwork and not an entire collection for them to see. Minimal... it's good and it's free...
By Lisa Gould Doherty,  Thu May 16 2013, 19:35
To Susan in Chicagoland are you on public sewer? If so no big deal. In New England, we would ask what your septic tank can handle for number of bedrooms. You may have a 4 bedroom house but only a 3 bedroom sewer. I'm sure my answer for you stinks, but going to your local town or city office could probably help guide you in response to your question.
By michelleizadi,  Thu May 16 2013, 20:16
WOW, too many comments here................. as a Realtor do the : carpet, Paint and Fixtures. GET RID of the smell, do plumbing if it needs it.......and you are good to go.:)
Michelle, TX Realtor.
By rom1013,  Thu May 16 2013, 20:34
I have an older Cape Cod (1930s) in good shape, new roof, hardwood floors, fresh paint & landscaping, decent appliances etc. But -- white aluminum siding that is at least 30 or 40 years old, kinda "chalky" and dingy. A powerwash might improve the appearance - but should I go for vinyl siding before putting on the market? It's only a 2-Bed 1-Bath, so I don't want to cut into my equity too much.
By Patrick Williams,  Thu May 16 2013, 20:49
Too many comments? Im going to comment on that... As a Seller, I was working on my pool one day. The Realtor and his lookie loo clients wandered out to my work area, (I was the pool repairman that day) since I wasn't playing the role of seller, working like a dog. The Realtor asks me "Why don't you do it this way" (keeping it simple) Na na na na na na na on and on... I listened of course because one never knows, by some miracle I could have been mistaken in my process...
Once I realized the method He described was rather (the Realtor) "third world" and not up to par even on a resale, I says to Him, Wow so many comments... as a Painting Contractor how about I just not tell you how to sell this house to those clients while I preform my task with all the years experience Ive attained. We can leave it at that... Why are you painting the pool with Black Paint? Everybody does their pool in blue, maybe white...
Well, I have the six gallons of Epoxy already purchased, on the shelf and in Black. So this is what Im using...
I wasnt going to do the epoxy coating except for the fact that not doing so left me open only to investors, Now buyers with financing possibilities can be well served with this Black Epoxy Coated Pool, FYI in So Cal the water remains 95 degrees due to the dark color, with nice lighting Im about to have some mermaids and mermen frolicking about in the water on my next open house... Yeah that is too much comment isnt it?
By Jkentdesigns,  Thu May 16 2013, 21:28
Clean is the first thing, and neutral (doesn't have to be boring) but people with highly personalized homes must realize most buyers can't see past purple walls, murals, friezes , etc. that they have enjoyed for what ever time they have lived there. The minute you list your home it's now a commodity , it's no longer your home. I am a designer by trade as well as a veteran stager, also just sold a half million dollar home in Southern California (Riverside County) purchased a year prior as a foreclosure but got top dollar and walked with over 44k profit after all reimbursements and fees were paid. Only three buyers were allowed as I made the agent keep it as a pocket listing. No sign and it sold to a cash buyer for full asking, fully furnished. Closed in 22 days and was for sale for 45 days. http://www.amazingpropertiesnow.com Inspection was flawless, including the pool. A well maintained home is an day sale.
By Jkentdesigns,  Thu May 16 2013, 21:37
Patrick appears to be a typical SOCAL seller, this is what I have so this is what I'm going to use....whether or not it's the what the buying pool wants to purchase. I got so sick of that attitude when purchasing a property in Eastvale, Ca. I finally became the "Crazy" buyer after these type of half done repairs or poorly done at best. So I would be loud about them and leave the property based on the crap that had been done. But their loss as we had the cash they needed .....So when Patrick has to reduce his price he will learn hopefully, do what the market asks for not what you have on the shelf.....sounds cheap.....
By Patrick Williams,  Thu May 16 2013, 22:42
I was going to try to defend my position but I read the first posting about the quatrillion dollar home you sold, and the design experience and the staging.... Well guess what? Frankly you are living in another world, you have no idea about my caracter. You have no concept about what I am doing and leaving behind for the buyer.
I am far from a typical SoCal seller. My agents have already told me this, Then when you take into account the ridiculous fact that while we applaud your 44K accomplishment on the half a million dollar home in Riverside... We also applaud how special your little pocket listing happened to play the part you so dramatically presented to us. Give a rest queen, not everyone is on the Drama train. 44K thats all? Who really cares after the smell passes? What I see having worked with little designer beatches like yourself is 99% of America doesnt do all that dramatic queeny special stuff you presented. Thank the Lord. When you come down to earth, whenever that is.... Frankly we wont notice anyway. You havent a clue...
By Jack Kates,  Fri May 17 2013, 03:30
I am a contractor for 29 years and best things to do before a sale is:

1.Powerwash your house,all cement, stairs and make sure the gutters are clean.
2. Have a contactor walk the roof and caulk where needed.
3. Fix any water leaks
4. Fresh inside paint is a plus. If you know your selling a year before you list the house, do it so you can enjoy the fresh paint job.
5. If everything is outdated, pick one thing to upgrade so you can add it in the listing. Like a new refrig, stove, washer/dryer, front door,Led tv mounted to the wall
By Barb Mihalik,  Fri May 17 2013, 05:32
I just advised a client who was listing their home to have the carpets cleaned and "de-stained" rather than install costly hardwood floors. While hardwood floors are very much the rage right now, it's too difficult to pick the right finish to please everyone. It's better to make sure everything is clean and to price the home in relation to the condition rather than attempt to choose finishes for buyers.
By Ann Marie Focca,  Fri May 17 2013, 05:54
Many Home inspectors will come into your Home and do an Inspection prior to selling and give you the report. This give a homeowner a great start on the repairs that they should do before putting their Home on the Market. The cost for this inspection varies and can be incorporated in the selling price.
If the Homeowner wishes they can make their report public or give a copy to a potential buyer who has submitted an offer. This will save them the inspection fee and they (the buyer) will know that you (the homeowner) has nothing to hide. Some inspectors can give you a sign that can be posted next to the For Sale sign. Showing confidence in you home, taking care of the little things, and always keeping up with your curb appeal is a great way to get your home SOLD. Remember to also keep your home well lit. Show it off!
By Pam English,  Fri May 17 2013, 06:31
When a potential buyer drives by a listed property, they should see a nicely landscaped front with cut grass and no toys or trashcan visible. A freshly painted front door, clean windows, and updated light fixture also add tremendous appeal. It doesn't matter how great the inside is if you can get buyers through the front door.
By June Constable,  Fri May 17 2013, 07:36
Don't make the mistake of allowing a "carpet allowance" for dirty, smelly, wrinkled carpet ! I don't know where that started, but it doesn't work! I advise the seller to buy the cheapest, beige or neutral color and put it down - any carpet will last at least a year. The house will smell fresher, look cleaner and the buyer won't be turned off the first 30 seconds they are in the house.
By Gordon Ruckart,  Fri May 17 2013, 08:04
ruckartaligor@gmail.com wishes to unsubscribe. Your site says all emails include an unsubscribe tab at the bottom. Not so!! Please delete us from your email send list. Thank you.
By Steve Earnshaw,  Fri May 17 2013, 09:19
Here on the Oregon Coast, buyers are always on the lookout for mold, dry rot, and are very sensitive to natural light. Cleaning the roof, gutters, trimming vegetation away from the exterior, especially around windows, is critical. Roof repairs are generally inexpensive if caught early, and can be very expensive if left unattended for long periods of time. It is amazing how much more sunlight brightens a room when the windows are clean. Financing issues aside, buyers in our market tend to be downsizing retirees, looking for a move-in-ready home. Thorough cleaning by a professional will make things sparkle. Their fresh eyes can see things your buyer can see and your seller may not. My best advice is not to over improve based on the price point of your home. The other deal killer is cigarette smoke. Very few buyers in my market smoke. This is the most difficult conversation to have with sellers who do smoke. Offering a buyer credit for new paint, floor and window coverings, is a sure sign of a distressed property. Better the seller move out and make these repairs prior to listing, if they are able.
By Ladonna Pousson,  Fri May 17 2013, 09:46
great info thanks!
By Chris Carter, MORTGAGE LENDER,  Fri May 17 2013, 09:54
Keep in mind that many upgrades do not return their expense in a 1:1 increase to property value.
By rachel.mctague,  Fri May 17 2013, 11:07
When we moved into our home, we put a microwave above our range using electrical connections that do not meet legal standards for residential electrical wiring. We avoided expensive rewiring of the house this way, but my understanding is that our house could not be sold without complying with those standards. My husband says that the way to go is to remove the microwave before selling the house, which would bring us into compliance with the legal requirements. I'm wondering whether it would be better to rewiring because potential buyers would all prefer a kitchen with the microwave as is--installed.
By Kiki,  Fri May 17 2013, 12:10
In bay area, you can sell your house for a million or more even if you take a s--t in the middle of every room. Here we have rich chinese who buy everything that has doors and windows. Cash.
By sammyegail,  Fri May 17 2013, 12:19
To Mary who said she loves bright colors, keep them, are you serious!?! You're *selling* your house, you have to go neutral, or as neutral as you can. Whomever buys your house can start out of a fresh pallet and paint the rooms the colors they choose. I can't stand maroon colored walls. Or purple. Its not going to be your house anymore, geez! I like the post about cleaning outdated cabinets. I looked at a house 2 years ago, it was 40 years old and all original. The kitchen was so full of wood it was a bit overwhelming, but it was very clean and fresh. I could have easily kept that kitchen until we decided to upgrade it. The rest of the house was painted a pale pink and 70's wallpaper, the wallpaper was comical! I live in FL, if it'd had a pool it would have went to #1 on my list, it was #2. Built solid, perfectly maintained, very clean, great price and the best neighborhood in this area. Seeing all the comments on neutral paint color, I love the blue in our living area (alot of area, kitchen, eating area, living room all together) but I don't look forward to the elbow grease of repainting it : (. I have Sherwin Williams Macadamia Nut everywhere else. The rooms get alot of light so it looks good in here. Guess I'll be going to buy a 5 gallon bucket, lol!
By jenmdrouin,  Fri May 17 2013, 12:36
I like older homes and I hate the builders or sellers remodels that are so often done. I like older appliances 90's and older are great . The words that turn me off when reading a posting are recently updated. Remove all your family pictures, all the collections, unused and out of date furniture and clean very well.
By Tennisbum100,  Fri May 17 2013, 12:37
I have dark brown/black speckled granite countertops. My kitchen appliances (microwave, burners, built in wall oven and refrigerator) are all black. Black would be the ideal color match for replacement. However, everything seems to be stainless steel these days. What color should I go with?
By pmacie_00,  Fri May 17 2013, 14:02
Please please please! Whatever you do, Sellers, do not convert your garage to a bedroom or "bonus room". What bonus is that to have my car in blasting sun, salt and hurricanes of S. Fla? We, the Byers, do not need just any space, we need usable space. You are not fooling anybody. Whichever realtor said that 3 bdrm house without a garage is better than a 2 brrm +1 car garage ought to have his/her car sand blasted.
By Bev West,  Fri May 17 2013, 14:15
I'm all for having the house sparkling clean. If the seller can't afford to do a lot of fix-ups at least they can clean and paint and shampoo the carpet.
By Elaine Rhodes,  Fri May 17 2013, 15:41
I agree. Many seller don't have the cash reserves to spend a lot of money getting ready to sell. But they can clean, touch up paint and declutter. A little goes a long way in todays market.
By Cheryl Imp,  Fri May 17 2013, 16:08
Let's not forget one of the most effective & least expensive improvements a seller can make-it is to
de-clutter. You are going to have to pack things up when you move, so start packing some of those things now to give your home a cleaner, more spacious feel.
Cheryl Imp
Keller Williams, Santa Barbara
By Marty Grimson,  Fri May 17 2013, 16:40
Don't use plug-in air fresheners! Many people are allergic or have asthma and cannot breathe! They won't buy your house...take it from an asthmatic Realtor with 35 years experience.
By Mzsuzie,  Fri May 17 2013, 17:37
I followed the "fix" suggestions when I sold my Town-home.. . I painted any room that needed it, including the garage.; what a difference it made:) I replaced the front screen combination door. ( the biggest expense at about $350;) then I painted the front door. Next I added all new light fixtures. Especially the ceilings and outdoor lighting. I made sure the "curb appeal" was enhanced. I steam cleaned my carpet which was Berber and made it look like new. I painted all around the interior window sills as I had replaced the windows the year prior. I also made sure the garage door opener was "tuned-up" and spent about $130 to get it running like new. Installed new rollers which were very reasonable for the door. I didn't spend much at all; but the things I invested in were worth every penny for the difference it made in appealing to another single woman like me. I had invested much time in the patio deck area with tons of lovely perennials ; found-used cement bricks for pennies to make a walkway in my enclosed patio area. I used a basket weave design. No major expensive improvements were made. Voila; it sold !!
By Joann Bayer,  Sat May 18 2013, 07:23
I have a house with white/gray marble tile floors in hall and living room. Besides carpet, what flooring would work best against the marble? 10 ft ceilings, lg rooms, near beach on Florida. Also, upon entering home, very formal entry, with marble....dining room and identical area opposite front door, ?? What flooring would be best, besides carpet, adjoining marble?
By Paul Barrett,  Sat May 18 2013, 07:27
Try Bicarbonate of Soda to get rid of any unwanted smells!!
By Susan Sabir,  Sat May 18 2013, 08:01
This is a good article highlighting and benchmarking what to focus on; practical and useful information.
By dalhil65,  Sat May 18 2013, 08:42
NO one commented on an empty house as opposed to staged?
By VanessaM,  Sat May 18 2013, 16:06
I have to agree about paint and floors. One word about floors...if you're replacing carpet, don't be cheap. Do not think that laminate is equal to hardwood. Don't cover up original hardwood with cheap carpet. I actually made an offer on a home where the owners put laminate (DIY) over original hardwood, and failed to raise the steam heat radiators - they cut the laminate around it. I brought in a hardwood guy who gave me a quote to undo that horror and adjusted my offer accordingly. The sellers were so pissed, they wouldn't budge, and we never bought the house.
By Atlantanative52,  Sun May 19 2013, 07:12
Am about to put my on the market and all these comments and opinions are very confusing. One poster even said she wouldn't consider a home with new carpet another said she wouldn't use neutral colors. I am told wallpaper and brass fixtures and furnishings are out by some. Have eliminated wallpaper and brass fixtures and have put in new neutral carpet and neutral paint. This was expensive and time consuming. Priced oil rubbed bronze and brushed nickel door hardware (knobs and hinges) and am not going to replace these. This is outrageously expensive and time consuming and my agent agrees. Says if this is issue to a buyer. we can negotiate. So my point is be smart. You can spend way more than you will ever recoup on the sale. Replacing roof, heat and air, remodel kitchen, master bath, carpet, brass door hardware, cracked concrete, and on and on will be outrageously espensive You can go broke doing all this and never recover the expense. Consult your agent first.
By Mary Barson,  Sun May 19 2013, 09:22
I live in a rural area in the southeast. I had done all of the above, and my house sat on the market for two years. Lots of walk thru's, but not one offer. I took it off the market and have invested close to 40K into it, some of it maintenence problems that came up, but most was upgrading windows, remodeling bath, etc. I am about to embark on the kitchen. It has dark ugly paneled walls, the cabinets are halfway covering the only windowin the room. It is small. The countertops are bath countertops and don't match each other. The appliances don't match. White fridge and stove, black dented dishwasher. The floor is old lino. I want t put new cabs and countertops in, replace flooring with lino or laminate, and paint the ugly paneling. The sink isn't even under the window but I'm not messing with galvanized plumbing. During the bath remodel, I had a leak, and half the yard had to be dug up, which I had replaced the yard already for "curb appeal". The house was just tax appraised at 68K. I want to get as close to 70K for it as all the money I've spent was out of a loan. Any suggestions???
By Atlantanative52,  Sun May 19 2013, 09:51
Mary Barson, I think you get the award for funniest and most outrageous post because I doubt anyone believes you! Thanks for the humor and sarcasm.
By Jim Freed,  Sun May 19 2013, 11:05
As a certified home inspector, I'm always surprised at the number of sellers who won't opt for a pre-sell inspection when there are always success stories from those who do. I visited a home yesterday whose out of state owner wouldn't pay for a pre-inspection. When we pulled up, the first impression was that the yard looked like an abandoned property! The screen door closure was missing and the door was blowing open and shut. The front door required two keys (deadbolt and knob mismatched). That's three objections and we're not even inside the home yet!

I advise seller to LISTEN. Your agent knows what's trending in new and pre-owned properties. Stagers know what turns buyers on / off. Home inspectors (the good ones) use standards of practice and have the experience to discover those issues may derail a sale later (and you can do the repairs yourself, or at least have time to shop around).
By Atlantanative52,  Sun May 19 2013, 11:45
Jim Freed, That is great advice. I have already walked my home inside and out and made a punch-out list of touch ups and repairs that need to be done. I like your thoughts but you didn't list the cost for a pre-sell inspection. I know it will vary, but could you give us a range of prices for this service and how to pick an inspector. Thanks
By Mary Barson,  Sun May 19 2013, 12:51
You want pictures Atlanta Native????? It is ALL true!!
By Mary Barson,  Sun May 19 2013, 12:58
Jim, while I think your advice is excellent, the rural area where I live has a bunch of 6 week computer class inspectors. I already sued one on my last home purchase, and he took one of those fly by night computer degree courses in 6 weeks. I was living out of state, and the realtor recommended him to me. I am from Detroit originally, and lived in Florida for a few years. I am college educated, and not some dumb girl who doesn't do her research. I actually over research. One realtor I called to look at the house and offer advice told me I could get 73K, as is. That is BS, becuase when I had it on the market, I couldn't get 62,5K. I asked for advice Atlanta, not accusations of being a liar. I will show you pictures right now, if you want them. I even have pics of my yard being dug up 3 months ago.
By Copperheadhill1,  Sun May 19 2013, 18:41
why did you buy your home in the first place Mary Barson, it sounds awful.
By Copperheadhill1,  Sun May 19 2013, 18:42
i sincerely wish you good luck for a quick sale.
By Atlantanative52,  Mon May 20 2013, 05:55
Mary Barson, Sorry to get your dander up. I am not a realtor but, I do know that you should have never invested the 40K to begin with. To repair and replace what you mention is also a waste. At this point I wouldn't put another dime into the house. Take what you can get and walk away. You NEED to consult other real estate professionals at this point because all I can see is red ink.
By marcel1050,  Mon May 20 2013, 08:30
My daughter is getting ready to sell her house. It needs many updates - deck, front and back porch, landscaping, an interior room that was never finished as a bathroom/laundry room...too many other updates to mention. How does one go about finding the money to do these improvements and inspections before selling?
By ljosull,  Mon May 20 2013, 12:48
Again-Any thoughts on selling an empty house(clean,hardwood floors,fresh paint) vs.paying to have it staged?
By Karen Meredith,  Mon May 20 2013, 14:14
Great ideas, but in my area, investors (probably foreign) are buying homes sight unseen. I have been looking for a house for my children for months to no avail. Everything in my price range is sold within 24 hours. Check the market in your area before selling. Improvements might not be necessary. ;)
By otterlakefarm,  Mon May 20 2013, 14:43
Re: replacing the ROOF, and the person who asked about adding the EGRESS window to make it a 3 bedroom. By all means do the EGRESS WINDOW. See more comments below.

Re: the ROOF replacement - get a number of estimates (they will probably vary a lot) make sure ridge vents, other roof vents, drip edges, Ice Dam membrane (a code requirement in many northern areas) and flasing are all included. If you are handy you may be able to work WITH a roofing contracter for a large savings. We have done this several times. Do Make SURE your contracter is licensed and insured for your area. Sometimes you may have to use a contracter approved/permitted in your municipality. Check before you hire. And GET REFERENCES from several homeowner who have used them. Drive by those locations to see if you feel the workmanship is good. Find out how much is the norm in your area for a deposit and at what steps in the completeion of the job you should pay installments. Also make sure you get a full bill of sale saying the contracter is paid in full (so no unscrupulous person can put a construction lien on your property).

EGRESS WINDOW: You should easily get more for your property as a 3 Bedroom. As a realtor I know that many people will not even look at / drive by a 2 bedroom.

For any major reapirs: It depends on where you live and what the status of the market is. I loved seing the comment from the Detroiter who said homes are selling fast. Depends on the price range I'm sure. Whre I live, 100 miles away, we still are competing with foreclosures. There are at least 4 foreclosures for every listing that is not. This is in the under 100K range. The 500K plus ranges is selling fine and has all through this recession. Sellers use some common sense and don't over remodel, do fix the basic health and safety problems, and use a lot of ELBOW GREASE to CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. Good luck to all.
By Atlantanative52,  Mon May 20 2013, 19:29
Thanks to all for the great info. In some areas of Atlanta foreclosures and short sales are in short supply at this moment. Thank God. As we all know they have made life miserable for those of us who desired to sell. Re-sale and new home inventory is low and has created a great sellers market. Some lucky sellers are getting list price plus. Some are seeing multiple offers. And I am praying that translates into a quick sale for my family and others who have been waiting for market improvement as we have. Good Luck to all.
By Linda Alexandroff,  Tue May 21 2013, 05:51
For many homes getting rid of the clutter really helps out. Also it is very important to CLEAN the house and yard. Make the beds, tidy up and clean the kitchen and baths. Once the house is clean it's easy to keep it neat and ready for showings. Remember to look at the house through a buyer's eyes.
By Mark Acantilado,  Tue May 21 2013, 06:37
The first time my brother sold his house in the market, we definitely cleared everything that needs repairs on his home.

We patched things and ensured that the whole property is OK and is going to create a positive impression to prospective buyers in the market. Definitely, someone else who is planning to sell their home should know what fixes and adjustments they do to their home so that they you could build a positive impression from buyers.

Mark | http://www.agentcampus.com/
By Richard Owens,  Tue May 21 2013, 10:31
By Tonya Keller,  Tue May 21 2013, 11:39
What about the yard? What should you do to it when selling?
By otterlakefarm,  Wed May 22 2013, 07:35
e. Depends on the size of the rooms, and fefinitely the price range. For more expensive homes it really pays to have it staged. For a small starter home or one with smaller rooms then EMPTY may make them seem larger. By all means get rid of BIG, OVERSIZE, OVERSTUFFED furniture that make a room seem really small in proportion.

ONE TIP I have not seen posted by anyone: GO TO ALL THE OPEN HOUSES IN YOUR AREA AND PRICE RANGE.....then you know what you are competing against. Also, you will pick some great tips for how to stage your own home for sale. Also, check the competition for what is included with the listing, and if any creative financing is offered. Then check with your realtor to see what you may be able to offer to a potential buyer. One time we had to be out in three weeks per the offer, we did so. It was an experience I don't want to do often, but worth it for the sale

Put in the time to clean, but also the time to check out what wlse is on the market. If you are thinking of making serious changes $ ….then check out houses in your price bracket and the next $ range up from your to see what is on the market. Check the solds with your realtor regularly to see what the actual selling prices are. Make your home a cut above the competition for the same or better price and you will sell.
Don't forget to spruce up the outside. Fresh blooming flowers really can have a big, low-cost impact. Get rid of all weeds, much, and don't forget the mailbos. A new one and new, or painted post can really give an oooph to curb appeal. Make the buyers feel you have really kept up your home on the outside and they will desire to see what you have done inside. Nothing can turn a drive by viewer off faster then seeing weeds GROWING in the eave troughs. Trim all overgrown shrubs. Mulch, and spruce up the entry. Make a list of the things you liked and didn't like about the competition when you went to their open houses. Use this as a guide to refurbishing your own. Also, listen to any comments made by other potential buyers that are in the house with you.....this can really yield valuable insight. Good luck can come from Good Efforts on your part.
By Susan Monts,  Wed May 22 2013, 21:04
ljosull, I am not an expert on this subject but after watching A LOT of HGTV, and selling several homes I believe it is far better to have it staged. On HGTV they rent furniture by the month and stage it that way. Some realtors are even stagers themselves. Good luck!
By Kate Ochiai,  Thu May 23 2013, 12:18
Don't place many stuff, hide them!
By Julie Ellefson,  Fri May 24 2013, 10:32
I truly dislike beige carpet so if I were to find new beige carpet and new beige paint, I might want to move onto the next house. Great comments everyone. So many insights.
By Voices Member,  Fri May 24 2013, 13:50
I was wondering about getting some repair for my water damage in Salt Lake City. Thanks for the great information in this article.
By bumblebeenews2,  Fri May 24 2013, 16:35
Great tips!
By Brad Melancon,  Fri May 24 2013, 21:44
By Cmoneyspinner,  Fri May 31 2013, 11:50
Great tips. But I have to agree with Isaac. Roof?
By Voices Member,  Wed Jun 19 2013, 03:02
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By Michael Jefferies,  Fri Jun 21 2013, 09:41
Ah ha! 6 steps to selling your concrete steps in Chicago, IL, I'll try this out! Good luck you everyone. URL: http://www.unitstepjoliet.com
By Boyd Garth,  Wed Jul 10 2013, 16:11
that is what my previous home owner should have done. or at least for the appartment I am in. I was just wondering if I need a personal injury attorney olympia wa to help with it
By Voices Member,  Wed Jul 24 2013, 11:41
We made sure to do exterior door repair in Chicago IL. I don't think this is necessary for everyone but it certainly did help us out. Mostly because our old doors were just so completely worn out and looked awful. We fixed them up and painted the front one a deep red which really helped give the house the look we wanted.

Shelly Slader | http://www.advanceglassinc.com
By Boyd Garth,  Tue Jul 30 2013, 16:19
I really liked this! my brother & sister in law are moving and they are trying to sell their home, and it is really helping, they already have several bids! but there was this problem with a motorcycle accident lawyer from vancouver but it was just a misunderstanding
By rana7071,  Wed Aug 7 2013, 02:13
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By mikeross1809,  Tue Aug 13 2013, 12:31
I need to do some basic roof repairs before I can sell my home here in Salt Lake City, UT. I was wondering how in depth I need to go with these repairs? Should I entirely fix everything or should I just make it so the rain will stay out? Thanks!

Mike Ross | http://www.actionroofingutah.com
By vardscarie,  Mon Aug 26 2013, 08:47
This article focuses on home repairs, but businesses selling properties should always leave their facilities better than they found them to get the most profit therefrom.

Vard Scarie | http://www.bitroads.com/services/construction/parking-lot
Asphalt Road Repair Minneapolis
By ncpcoatings,  Wed Sep 4 2013, 21:13
I have seen your site… site is good,,,, if you put more images or photo gallery in it… then will more attractive .... knowledgeable information in site. Thanks for share with us.
By Voices Member,  Thu Sep 5 2013, 09:46
Thanks for sharing. I have been looking into plumbing in Red Deer. I'm trying to sell my parents old home. Its a bit of a dump, but how much should I really fix it before selling it? http://www.thegentlemenplumbersreddeer.com/plumbing.html
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By Kara Blader,  Wed Nov 27 2013, 08:02
This is wonderful, thanks so much! I wasn't sure if we should get washer repair in Colorado Springs or not before trying to sell our house so this has been a perfect help!
Kara Blader | http://www.apsco1999.biz
By CARTER.BECKER76,  Wed Feb 26 2014, 02:18
Wow that was such a great information. Now i got some of the ideas to sell my products. thank you so much so for this wonderful info....

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By Leandreajames,  Mon Mar 10 2014, 16:12
This is great information! In my opinion, lighting makes the one of the biggest differences in a homes value. Good lighting can make your house look a lot more expensive than it is! And, it can be done cheaply. I use http://www.interior-deluxe.com because I've found that they have the best prices. Good prices and a more expensive looking house? It's a win-win!
By Real Estate Investor,  Mon Mar 10 2014, 18:57
GOOD INFO - I would get a certified home inspection. This will help you find problems before they arise. You have to stay a head of the ball. It worth the money to hire a home Staging professional to get your home in model condition. it's amazing what small adjustments you can make to change the appearance of your property.
By Emily Merrell,  Thu Jun 12 2014, 12:53
My husband and I are selling our house later this month, and these are super helpful tips. We need to replace a couple of doors. My husband usually does that kind of work, so I don't think it will be too hard for him to figure out.
Emily Merrell | http://www.duranoticdoor.com
By whiskeyjenkins,  Wed Jun 18 2014, 08:52
These are all great tips for getting ready to sell a home. One of the problems I encountered was our furniture. After raising 4 kids, our furniture took a hit. We ended up getting the furniture repaired.

Will Jenkins | http://www.completefurnitureservice.com/services.html
By karablader,  Fri Jun 20 2014, 07:35
We made sure to switch out our shower curtains before putting our house on the market. Our old ones didn't even look bad but no one wants to use old shower curtains from someone else. Plus, the new ones enhanced the entire room, giving it an updated and more modern look. It's amazing what a simple, new shower curtain can do for a bathroom.
Shelly Slader | http://www.supremescreens.com.au
By dolores.brown999,  Wed Jul 9 2014, 10:33
I have some old appliances, but they all still work and are in pretty good shape. Do you think I sill need to replace any of the appliances? I don't want to miss out on buyers just because everything isn't brand new. http://www.mcivers.biz
By tonydazevedo,  Mon Jul 14 2014, 15:21
We have a really old door in our house that we think we should replace. Would it be best to fix this before we sell the house? We can choose between that or getting a new fridge, but we're not going to have enough money to do both. http://www.duranoticdoor.com
By reynoldsc99,  Tue Jul 29 2014, 10:37
I will not be selling my home for a while (at least a few years). I wanted to get replacement windows because the ones I currently have are very thin. I can hear everything going on outside and they have terrible insulation. Is it worthwhile to get new windows if I'll stay in the home for a few years?

Claire Reynolds || http://www.faswd.com/windows/tampa-replacement-windows.html
By Tim Johnson,  Tue Jul 29 2014, 12:52
I definitely agree that repairing and paving the asphalt in front of your home is essential for selling. Seeing something so permanent looking seeming so horrific will deter any buyer. It is less significant is the item isn't literally set in stone, but this is. Make sure to get your asphalt fixed up before ever trying to sell. http://bonnevilleasphalt.com/
By karablader,  Wed Jul 30 2014, 09:55
I remembered how important it was that the bathrooms looked neat and classy when my husband and I were looking for a home. We decided it would be worth it to fix up our bathrooms before putting our house on the market. We remodeled a little bit and installed frameless shower doors on all our showers. They made our bathrooms look very modern. http://franklinglasscompany.com/shower-door-gallery1/
By Lloydprogroup,  Mon Aug 11 2014, 14:28
I'm a big believer in taking away all the excuses BEFOREHAND.


1- heavy duty cleaning
2- Carpet shampoo
3- repaint everything
4- Write a punchlist and repair it as if you were buying the house yourself.
5- Invest in a home inspection beforehand (repair everything) and have it ready for the potential homeowners and realtors.

Make it easy by taking as many of the excuses away beforehand.

Lloyd Pro Group | Nationwide Insurance
1830 Water Place #105, Atlanta, GA 30339

latest trulia blog post:
By Rodhe Stevens,  Wed Aug 13 2014, 11:01
I was on the fence with some of the painting and carpet repairs I could get done in my house, but now I am all for it. Our walls are not too bad, but a fresh coat of paint will be a fast and easy thing I can do myself. The carpets, on the other hand, are something that I will need to get professional to come and repair in a couple places and maybe even replace in one of the rooms. Thanks for getting me off the fence, I've got some work to do now. http://www.carpetcareservices.com.au/services,emergency.html
By garypuntman,  Fri Aug 15 2014, 09:28
Thanks for these tips. One of the things I need to do is have my garage door replaced. I was trying to decide if I should just repair it. It is old, so I think it would be better to just replace it in the long run.
Gary Puntman | http://www.dependablegaragedoorrepair.com/Garage_Door_Repairs_Installations_Ripon_CA.html
By ameliaheartwright,  Fri Aug 15 2014, 13:42
I completely agree that a fresh coat of paint can do so much for you, especially if you are trying to bring new life into your home. While I have never bought a house, I was searching for one to rent a year ago and I picked the one I did because of the paint. They had completely repainted the interior of the home and it made everything look alive. So that's where I decided to live. It definitely does make more of a difference than you would think! http://aaaactionpainting.com/
By chevyjones801,  Wed Aug 20 2014, 19:16
What about the appliances in the kitchen? I know the article mentions that a gorgeous kitchen could be a seller for a home, so is it a good idea to just get them serviced and make them look nice? I know that would be a determining factor for me if I had to buy all new appliances. http://mikesbremenserviceinc.com
By Red.kayaks,  Tue Aug 26 2014, 06:21
We had a Trex deck built around a large hot tub about 10 years ago. The top of the tub is a few inches above the deck and is supported by an earth and stone foundation below. The hot tub was problematic and required many expensive repairs. Due to financial circumstances we decided to stop fixing it two years ago.

We'll be putting our house on the market next spring. We're not sure what to do with the hot tub. Do we have it removed before we list the house and market our deck as 'ready for your hot tub!,' leave it as is and tell the buyer that we'll remove it or leave it at their choosing, or remove it in advance and cover the opening with new decking?

Thanks in advance for your input!

By dolores.brown999,  Tue Aug 26 2014, 13:35
So should you repair or put in new tile, or should you just leave it for the buyer to do what they want with it? I think that's a better option, because then the buyer can put in what they want. You could just adjust the price so both the buyer and seller are comfortable about the price. http://www.turboforce.com.au
By Amber Johnson,  Tue Sep 2 2014, 09:37
I agree that there are a lot of different little things that can be helpful when selling your house. I think that little things can make a big difference. Coating a driveway is a good way to make it look better and last longer. Thanks for sharing.

Amber | http://pebblestonecoatings.com/residential/driveways
By h.psatlanta,  Fri Sep 5 2014, 23:21
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By fosterkicks99,  Mon Sep 15 2014, 07:43
My parents were making sure to keep up their pool before selling their home. A pool can be a good thing or bad thing to having depending on the prospective buyer. Making sure it stays nice is the best way to help it last longer and stay nicer.
Michael Foster http://www.bellarpools.com/pool-renovation
By davis-partridge,  Mon Sep 15 2014, 10:35
One of my favorite things to do to a home is to put in some sort of epoxy over the cement floor in the basement. I think that this looks really sharp. Some people do not like this, though. You can have the cement stained in a pattern that is appealing to you, then seal it in. http://www.floorshieldinc.com
By reynoldsc99,  Mon Sep 15 2014, 13:10
A bathroom remodel really is a good idea. Buyers like a new bathroom, and as a result you can get most of your investment back when you sell the home. Until then, you get to enjoy your new bathroom!

Claire Reynolds || http://www.richskitchens.com/Bathroom-Remolding-Butler-NJ.html

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