Fix It or Leave It: What Home Improvements to Do Before Selling

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/7/15 4:03 PM

When preparing to sell your home, you may notice there are some repairs, upgrades, or cosmetic flaws you didn't get to cross off your homeowner to-do list. Certain areas of a home can turn away potential buyers or downgrade their price offer, but what upgrades are worth your investment as a seller? Here's what to fix and what to leave as-is for the new homeowners.


Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at

Old Appliances

Updated kitchens are a top list item among homebuyers, but splurging on new appliances simply to sell your home is not the way to go. Dated models can distract from an otherwise up-to-date kitchen. If you're adamant on improving the look for buyers, give your appliances a facelift with stainless steel stick-on panels or appliance paint for a quick, cheap DIY fix.

Wooden Floors

Wood floors are a welcome bonus for potential homebuyers, adding an average of 6 percent to the selling price of a home, according to This Old House. If yours are dented, scratched or showing wear, consider refinishing them (approximately $3-$4 per square foot). You will likely recoup your investment plus more.

Old Windows

Replacing windows is an energy-efficient home improvement but also costly. Since you won't be there to reap the benefits of lower utility bills, leave this task to the new homeowners.


If you have any walls or trim in your home with chips, nicks or stains, it's a good idea to give them a fresh coat. New wall, ceiling and trim paint can go a long way with homebuyers, but stay neutral or muted when choosing colors. Remove wallpaper from all walls, if you have any.


Along with paint, carpet is one of the first things a homebuyer is likely to notice. New carpet can give an older home an extremely updated and fresh appearance. If your carpet is dated, worn, stained, or a non-neutral color, you should consider replacing. If you're a pet owner, you should probably consider replacement, as well. Though you may not notice pet odors lingering in your carpets, potential buyers definitely will.

If your carpet is already neutral in color and in moderate to good shape, have it professionally cleaned.

Front Door

According to Remodeling magazine's 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your current entry door with a steel variety is the top home improvement for recouping investment. At a cost recoup of 101.8%, steel doors are typically cheaper than wood or fiberglass but are also lower maintenance, energy efficient, insulating and secure.

If your front door is relatively new, consider giving it an update with a fresh coat of paint. For more ideas on updating your front entry, click here.

Popcorn Ceilings

While removing popcorn ceiling won't necessarily add value to your home, this dated ceiling style can be a major turn-off for homebuyers. Whether you decide to have it removed or covered with material like beadboard, you'll be able to present a (more) modern home to potential buyers.

When preparing to sell your home, remember that the first impression is the only impression in real estate. Consult with your real estate agent or a neutral party for ideas on what should be fixed or updated before listing your home. Make sure to implement home improvements that will help keep buyers from turning away and recoup the majority, if not more, of your original investment.

Looking to make major home improvements? Download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for information on financing renovations into your home loan.

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

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