Should you make updates before you sell?

By Erin Johnson

Are you planning to sell your home or condo in the next couple years and wonder if it’s “worth it” to
make any updates or renovations before you sell? It’s a common dilemma many homeowners face and
unfortunately, it’s one that does not have a simple answer.
In my experience, there are four main factors to consider when making this decision: market conditions,
cost/ROI, timing, and overall condition of the house. Let’s explore…
1. Assess the Housing Market: First, I would suggest taking a close look at the current housing market
in your area. If it’s a hot seller’s market, spending time and money on upgrades may not be
necessary. In a competitive buyer’s market, well-executed upgrades can make your property stand
out and potentially fetch a higher selling price or make it sell faster.
2. Consider the Cost and Return on Investment (ROI): Second, you should consider what it’s going to
cost. Renovations can vary significantly in terms of cost and potential return on investment. I would
not suggest going into debt to make updates solely for selling as there is no guarantee on the ROI.
Minor cosmetic updates like fresh paint, new fixtures, removing wallpaper, or landscaping typically
offer a higher ROI compared to major renovations like kitchen or bathroom remodels. The National
Association of Realtors publishes an annual report showing the estimated resale impact on major
renovation projects you can reference:
reports/remodeling-impact. Before investing in cosmetic updates, be sure to complete any
unfinished projects, address major issues, and fix anything that is broken. Having a beautifully
updated kitchen or bathroom won’t matter if the septic inspection fails, there’s water in the
basement, or the roof is leaking.
3. Think about the Timing: Next, you need to calculate how long it’s going to take. Renovations,
especially larger projects, can be time-consuming and disruptive. If you anticipate moving within the
next year or two, consider whether you have enough time to complete the renovations and enjoy
the benefits before putting your property on the market. You should expect that it will take longer
than promised and don’t forget to factor in the time it takes to find a contractor, get quotes, and
order supplies.
4. Don’t discount the “Domino Effect”: Lastly, you need to factor in the overall condition of the home
when considering making updates or renovations. I find that having just one room or area updated
in an otherwise outdated house can have a “domino effect” in making the rest of the house look
even worse. Unless you’re willing to do a complete “flip” on the house and renovate the whole
thing, you are probably better off pricing it lower for the condition and moving on. On the other
hand, if most of the house has been updated but there is some worn carpet or wallpaper or
outdated light fixtures, then making those updates can elevate the perception of the house to
“move in ready”. Many buyers appreciate and are willing to pay more for houses that have all the
updates done as they often don’t have the budget or the willingness to do the renovations.
In summary, making updates before selling your home can enhance its appeal and potentially increase
its market value. However, the decision should be based on your specific circumstances, market conditions, and budget constraints. Consulting with a real estate agent can provide valuable insights tailored to your local market.
By Erin Johnson, Realtor eXp Realty
Feel free to call me for a free consultation (330-227-4355) and check out my website for more resources
and information on the selling process: