Home Upgrades: What projects are worth doing?

Folks planning on selling their house in the next few years want to know what, if any, changes they should make to the property to a) get a better price, and b) sell faster.

Having sold properties in various levels of condition, and having shown many houses to prospective buyers, I want to share my list of top “upgrades” you can make to your house ahead of listing. You may be surprised at how inexpensive some of these upgrades are!

  • Landscaping: Trim back small trees and shrubs, pull weeds around the perimeter of the house, and consider adding potted plants or hanging baskets for splashes of color. In winter, keep walkways well-shoveled and de-iced.
  • Trim and Doorway: Walk around the outside of your house and look for chipped or peeling paint. A fresh coat of paint on the trim will neaten the exterior and possibly save you appraisal problems if your buyer has a mortgage. A freshly painted door and doorway brightens the entrance and gives the impression that the entire house is well cared-for.
  • Roof: If your roof is shingled and over 20 years old, you ought to consider replacing it. This expense will almost always repay itself in your sale price, and I can guarantee you will sell your house more quickly. Buyers and their lenders absolutely love a new roof- it is quite literally securing their investment.
  • Paint: A fresh coat of interior paint in neutral colors allows potential buyers to move in immediately. Simple but effective.
  • Flooring: Please remove or replace old carpet. Hardwood floors underneath may need a simple cleanup, or it may need a total refinish. If a carpet is necessary, replace with a neutral color.
  • Heating/Cooling: In the Philly region, central air is becoming an important home-buying feature. In terms of heating, buyers almost always prefer natural gas over oil and electric, due to cost. The cost and efficacy of changing your HVAC system depends a lot on the system you have in place.
  • Kitchen and bathrooms? Whether you should renovate your kitchen and/or bathrooms depends a lot on the specifics of your home and the local market. Both renovations are pricy and should be considered carefully.

Any house hitting the market will benefit from the basics of paint and cleanup included on this list. For more expensive upgrades, I highly recommend talking with a Realtor (or 2) to get some solid opinions. If you’re in the Philadelphia region, don’t hesitate to give me a call!


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