Fix up before sale?

Real Estate

Fix up before For Sale? These home repairs will pay off big time when it’s time to list your home.

Every homeowner wants the exact same thing when selling their home: the highest net proceeds after a smooth and efficient transaction.

But there are several different ways to get to that outcome, as factors like market conditions, demand, competition, and even interest rates play a part. However, there's one thing every seller can do to boost the price of their home before we list it – fix it up.

But should you? Do all repairs pay for themselves when it’s time to sign on the bottom line? Or will some repairs not reflect in the offers you get from buyers – or even take a chunk out of your profit?

Of course, if your home has major issues like a leaking roof, broken heat and air system, etc. it needs to be addressed (and will be flagged in the home inspection.) Likewise, any fixes that could potentially compromise the health or safety of the residents should be highlighted and repaired before a For Sale sign ever goes up in the front yard.

Today, I’ll break down the which repairs will improve your bottom line the most.

But remember that the last thing you want to do is invest in extensive (and expensive) repairs, only to find you don’t recoup that cost once it hits the market.  

In fact, one of the common mistakes I see a small percentage of sellers make is to over-improve their home with the hopes of bolstering the listing price.

But what they're missing is that the home still will be appraised. An appraiser can take into account improvements – or, definitely subtract for things that need fixing, but what they can't do is go above comparable properties that have sold in the area recently, which is the real determiner of fair market value.

 So a $400,000 house with a $50,000 swimming pool installed in a neighborhood of similar homes won’t go for $450,000.

But what you can do is make it the best, most attractive option among homes for sale in its price range and area.

Think of it from a home buyer’s perspective: when they first walk in a listing, they take in each detail, subconsciously categorizing it as positive or negative as they formulate their decision. 

So if you have a woefully outdated bathroom, for instance, they’ll consider that a blemish that will cost them time and money to update, so they’ll probably lower their offer price accordingly.

But if they walk in and that same bathroom is newly remodeled with high-end tile, fixtures, and other details, that would be a positive factor that might put you ahead of the competition, urging them to write an offer quickly for full price. And it the bathroom was clean, neutral, and nice but not anything remarkable, it probably wouldn’t enter into their decision at all.

So when we list your home for sale, the goal should be to eliminate the negative factors as the buyers will perceive them, at the very least. At that point, we can talk about the Return on Investment for other upgrades that will be positive factors.

Here are my notes, tips, and facts about what to fix before you sell – and what to leave to the new buyers.

So, which repairs will yield you the best return on investment?

In short, always focus your attention on the kitchen and bathrooms as your remodeling priority.

Here are my notes, tips, and suggestions on what to fix before you sell to maximize your profits – and what to leave to the new buyers.



-Fix any obvious broken doors or tracks on cabinets and drawers. If they are outdated but functional, consider having them painted. Put down new liner paper in the drawers and make sure the hardware allows for easy open and close. 

-Modernize lighting by installing a cool new fixture over the sink. It doesn't cost much, and the difference is dramatic. 

-Replace old tile or cheap linoleum countertops, ideally with granite, stone, or another surface appropriate for your type of home.

-Add a new sink faucet and fixtures.

-A hanging pot rack or wine rack is an inexpensive signature piece.

-If you have linoleum, other outdated, or damaged flooring, retile with large earth-tone tiles. Laying them down in a diamond formation is a more visually appealing option that buyers will appreciate.

-Paint the walls a bright but neutral color with satin or eggshell paint.



-If the toilet still works fine, just put a new seat and lid on it.

-Replace old shower sliding doors with a nice new curtain. 

-Install a new mirror or just reframe it, and pull dingy medicine cabinets– they are easy to replace.

-If needed, replace your sink with a new, modern sink and vanity set. (People look at the sink first and spend the most time in the bathroom.) There are great deals on sets that come with a nice faucet and fixtures as well.

-Install new tiles on the floor. This won't cost much in material since the bathroom floor doesn't cover a lot of surface area.

- Take down old towel racks and TP fixtures and classy new ones are a snap to replace.

-Pop in a cool signature lighting fixture over the sink.

-Paint the walls in a soft, neutral color with satin or semi-gloss, and your bathroom is ready!


Here are a few ideas for the rest of the house that won’t cost much but will catch a buyer’s eye:

-For some listings, it pays to have your home staged. I can recommend a few great ones, and you’ll be shocked how good your house will look (and how fast it will sell!)

-Change the light bulbs to low energy e-bulbs, and make sure to light up dim areas.

-Old wallpaper is definitely unattractive and can even scare off some buyers. 

- Get your carpets professionally steam cleaned, or replace if they’re in terrible condition.

-Likewise, you can have someone refinish real hardwood floors, which will make them sparkle and turn into a huge draw for buyers. 

-Take down about 75% of your decorations, artwork, and personal effects off the walls, leaving only a centerpiece and a mirror or two. Make sure to fill the nail holes with spackle, sand to smooth, and paint over them. 

-You don’t need to paint the whole inside of the house, but do cover any brightly colored rooms or high-traffic areas with a new coat of paint in a light, neutral color.

-If the outside doesn’t need new paint, a good power washing will be a huge improvement.

-Wash your windows well, inside and out, instead of replacing them, which is very expensive. 

-Paint your front door with a shiny, traditional color – like red or black – and remove beat-up screen doors.

-The garage door also looks better with a coat of paint, and if it needs it, think about painting the trim only (if you can get away with it) just on the front of the house.

-Sprucing up the landscaping is one of the best and cost-efficient ways to improve the first impression of your home. 

-Make sure to weed, prune, lay down some fresh stone or mulch in beds, and plant nice flowers in the front yard, especially on the way to the front door. 

If you follow these tips when selling your home, the buyers will be clamoring to make a full-priced offer - and your final check will show it!