What Should You Renovate Before Selling Your Home?

When it’s time to sell your home, there is plenty of work to consider- having it staged, having photos taken, finding the right sales price, and working with an agent to get it listed. Most people would likely prefer to avoid more in-depth projects, but the reality is that renovations can often be helpful in the sales process. Simple renovations may add enough value to your home to make them worth your time, but only if you are strategic about the process. In a market that is favorable to sellers, it can be tempting to sell a property as-is, but you may be leaving money on the table.

Why Renovate Before Selling

It can feel counterintuitive to renovate a home that you are not going to live in and that new owners may choose to change to fit their own tastes. And because home inventory is low and sellers have a good amount of favor in the current market, you will see a lot of listings that take the approach of an as-is sale or simply selling a house that is a bit outdated. This isn’t always the wrong choice, especially for someone who wants to move quickly or doesn’t have cash on hand.

However, choosing even one small renovation project could add a good deal of value to your home. Many buyers don’t want to be responsible for renovations after they’ve just incurred a large expense, and updates can signal to them that a home is well cared for and generally has been updated more than it actually has. The vast majority of buyers would like a move-in-ready home rather than a fixer-upper.

The competitive market also means that if buyers see your home as move-in ready and like it, they can drive the value up through a bidding war and a higher sale price. For that reason alone, small renovations may have a big return.

One way to determine if you should renovate may be to have your house valued early in the process. Working with local realtors and experts can give you an idea of what your home might sell for, what people in the area are interested in, and if renovations are right for you.

The Most Valuable Renovations

When deciding where to invest in renovations, it’s best to focus on obvious items that potential buyers may be interested in or hesitant about. You will also want to consider anything that may be a red flag during an inspection, like health or safety issues, with the knowledge that you’ll be asked to fix those in most cases. Some necessary repairs like upgrading outlets or adding a handrail can be done in advance to eliminate friction later.

Some areas of the home are most commonly renovated because they appeal to buyers the most. A local realtor can give you a sense of what they are hearing, but these trends tend to be similar across the country.


Kitchens are one of the areas most cited by people as important to them in a home, and an outdated kitchen can quickly turn off a potential buyer. Remodels in the kitchen often have some of the highest ROI as well, making them a great place to start.

Depending on the extent of the makeover, these renovations can get costly. Gutting a kitchen to remodel it can easily cost $50,000, but this is rarely necessary. Instead, focus on a few items that improve the look of the kitchen, like painting or refacing cabinets or replacing the countertops with granite or quartz. Avoid buying too many new appliances or choosing the most expensive options; instead, focus on energy efficiency.


Because they tend to be small, bathrooms often show problems more easily than other rooms, and plumbing is always a standout concern for buyers. Like with kitchens, try to avoid a complete redo of your bathroom and add details that make it feel bigger, more luxurious, and updated.

Some of the best changes to make to a bathroom for a good return are:

  • Adding a double vanity.
  • Replacing old hardware, like faucets and cabinet handles.
  • Refreshing the countertops.
  • Removing sliding glass shower doors and replacing them with a curtain.
  • Brightening grout.

Other Simple Renovations

Instead of undertaking one large project like a kitchen or bathroom, you could also choose to make a series of smaller changes throughout the home to improve the way it looks.

  • Add a small backyard deck or other outdoor space, especially if your home does not have something like this today. These don’t need to be large or complex, but a 12-foot by 12-foot deck can have ROIs of nearly 100% and do not usually take long to install.
  • Improve your home’s curb appeal by having fresh landscaping put in, adding a visually appealing mailbox, and painting your front door a bright color.
  • Have your home deep cleaned by a professional.
  • Install a few smart features, like a Nest thermostat or locks that use biometrics for access.
  • Repaint any rooms that are a bold color, use wallpaper, or are generally outdated.

While these renovations are generally successful, they will not be right for every person and every home. Before you begin any projects, you should have your home valued to understand what you could bring in with no changes at all. It can also be helpful to have an inspection performed on your home before listing it so that you know what may come up and will need to be fixed no matter what.

Questions to ask yourself before beginning a renovation can include:

  • How much will the project cost? It is usually wise to get multiple quotes before going ahead with any renovation so that you can compare it to potential added value. If you are thinking of doing renovations yourself, consider the cost of supplies and hours you may have to put in.
  • When do you want to list your home? Large renovations like finishing a basement can take a long time and delay selling a house until they are completed. If you’re in a hurry to have your house on the market, these timelines may not be realistic for you. Depending on the materials you need, supply chain problems and shortages may also make these projects slow and expensive.
  • What is the market like in your area? Take some time to look at homes currently listed in your neighborhood to compare features and prices. While you want your home to be competitive, it also doesn’t make sense to renovate so much that your home isn’t in line with the area’s pricing.

With information from professionals and answers to these questions, talk to a local listing agent to understand what buyers are looking for, what you may need to address in the sales process, and if they see any potential red flags.

Posted by Florida Realty Marketplace on
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