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Every time you get a listing agreement signed, you know that your client wants to get top dollar when they sell their home. Some homes are in superb shape, but some homes may need help to meet your seller’s goal.  If you run into that situation, you need to advise your client on the best home improvements for resale.

Don’t Confuse Home Staging and Home Improvements

Make sure your clients understand that all homes need to be staged.  If they aren’t, you’ll hear about it on your real estate showing feedback. Make sure all your listings are spotlessly clean, decluttered and depersonalized (including neutral paint colors when needed).  In addition, encourage your sellers to keep their homes in that condition for every showing.

Tips for Identifying the Best Home Improvements for Resale

As with almost everything else in real estate, even the experts disagree when it comes to the best home improvements for resale. Therefore, keep in mind that you need to customize the advice you give to each situation.

Many people use the reports issues by Remodeling Magazine as an initial guide. The 2017 report is now available.  It shows the return on investment averaged for the entire country, and breaks it down by region. The return your sellers get will depend on a number of issues including the value of their home, how it compares to homes in the neighborhood and the local housing market.

If your client is a fan of HGTV, they might be enamored of Jonathan and Drew Scott’s series called Buying and Selling. If your clients have an unlimited budget and famous designers to work with, it might be worth doing the type of wall-removing renovations shown on that show.  However, your clients may want to take some advice from these experts on low cost improvements instead.

Start with the Basics

Buyers know that they may want to do some of their own changes when they move into a new home.  What they don’t want to deal with in a home listing at top dollar is fixing basic structural issues.  These issues will always generate negative comments on your real estate showing feedback. Here are some examples.

  • Scratched wood floors. Your sellers should have been keeping up with this as a maintenance issue.  Refinishing the floors can be a do-it-yourself project, and will definitely freshen the home and make it look well maintained.

  • Cracked floor or wall tiles. Another maintenance issue. Replace or redo tiles as necessary.
  • It’s almost universal now: buyers are looking for hardwood floors.  If there is a lot of carpet in your listing, consider whether it’s worth replacing it in the main areas such as living areas and bathrooms to make the home look more up-to-date.
  • Cracks in the walls. Another maintenance issue that should be addressed and can be a red flag for home inspectors.
  • Leaky basements. They can smell and may be a source of mold.
  • Leaking/old roofs. Odds are that any buyer will negotiate a price reduction for replacing the roof. If funds are available, the sellers probably should replace it themselves. If the roof is in poor shape, it will color the buyers’ perception of the whole house.

Beyond the Basics

These are home renovations that will often help to increase sales prices.

  • Curb appeal. This is almost a staging issue if there are overgrown plantings that hide the outside of the house or look unkempt.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms. Typically, you need to replace the carpet in bathrooms with tile or wood flooring. If your listing has a 1950s kitchen when all the comparable homes have been upgraded, you should seriously consider making improvements.  Sometimes, a new backsplash and painted cabinets may be all that is required.
  • Lighting. Replace old chandeliers with low cost but modern fixtures. Downlights can really jazz up a room.

Things to Avoid

Don’t let your seller get carried away.  For example, don’t sacrifice the garage for an additional bedroom.  Don’t replace windows, add a media room or remodel the attic.

Major renovations are only worthwhile if the homeowner will get years of enjoyment out of them.  Stick with those home improvements that you need to make to get good real estate showing feedback and reasonable offers.




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