Most Important Updates and Repairs to Make Before Selling Your Home

couple completing painting and maintenance before selling home

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In this article: 


Getting your home ready to sell is no small feat. And you’ll have a lot of decisions to make. You’ll of course need to put together a home advertisement and post your home listing online, but there’s a lot that comes before that. Once you decide to sell your home, the next thought should be, how do I make my home more marketable? Or, more specifically, should I make repairs or sell as is?


The answer is dependent on the market. If you’re in a buyers’ market, you’ll likely need to pull out all the stops to appeal to a buyer. But a sellers’ market might allow you to polish what you have and sell with little sweat. In other words, there’s no need to tear out the carpet, replace the roof, and spit-shine every square inch to sell your home.


So, how do you know where your home lies? It comes down to the current market value of your property and the estimated value once you've made improvements. 


“As a Realtor who represents both experienced and first-time homebuyers, 'turn-key' is a request I most often get. Meaning they don’t want to have to do anything to move in. If it’s a realistic option, fresh paint, luxury vinyl plank floors, and quartz countertops are the highly desired upgrades right now and attract a lot of attention. But there are other more affordable options to help you attract a buyer, too. If you are on a budget. you might be surprised what a few tricks and tips can do to show your home in its best light. Don’t underestimate what new drawer pulls, light fixtures, bright white switch plate covers and what a pro cleaning job can do!"  -Shannon Cole, Shannon Cole Properties


The bottom line? A modified space can help you sell your home faster and turn a larger profit. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see more profit? So let’s get to it!


Focus on the Big Issues


If you’re willing to dive into a few larger projects to increase the value of your home, then paying closer attention to areas with a high return on investment will serve you well.



couple looking at plans to update their home for sale

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1) Start with the kitchen. 

Start with the room where you spend most of your time: the kitchen. An updated kitchen is high on everyone’s list. And while some homebuyers are willing to renovate to mold it into their dream space, others are not. Instead, hand it to them on a silver platter. 


What are homebuyers looking for, exactly? They want a high-functioning, spacious, and organized cook space. If yours appears small with little storage and has old appliances and dated finishes, then talk to your real estate professional about whether you should replace the hardware, countertops, and fixtures or even tear down a wall to expand the space.


updated kitchen for home sale

Photo from Canva

But what if you don’t have the time or money to make updates? We’re all familiar with the pace of military moves. Is it necessary to gut the room and start from scratch? Not necessarily. Since most homeowners don’t see more than a 60% return on a complete kitchen overhaul, it’s not a bad idea to stick to simple updates and avoid over-improving and losing money in the sale.  


It might only take a few updates to freshen up the kitchen and attract buyers: 


  • Install new hardware 
  • Purchase shiny, new appliances
  • Install updated and/or additional lighting
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint to the walls (and maybe the cabinets, too) 

2) Pretty up the bathroom. 


What’s the second most used room in any home? The bathroom, of course! Bathrooms might not be used for pretty things, but we all like them to look pretty while they do their job. Your goal is to make it look as large, bright, and clean as you can before selling. 


bathroom updates before listing home

Photo from Canva


How can you accomplish this without funding a full overhaul?


Focus on these bathroom details:  


  • Replace old fixtures
  • Install a new vanity 
  • Recaulk the shower 
  • Replace tiles 
  • Replace flooring
  • Paint 

Learn more: How Much Will a Bathroom or Kitchen Renovation Cost You?


Does your home have an owner’s bathroom? Many older homes do not. But do you know what home buyers really want in their next home? You guessed it, an en suite bathroom. While this project soaks up precious time and money, it can make the difference between selling or growing stagnant on the market. 


3) Make exterior updates. 


Your property’s exterior is crucial (it makes the first impression, after all)! Have you ever found a home listed online and eagerly driven past it in hopes of finding the one, but upon seeing the neglected exterior, kept on driving? We all have. 


curb appeal with fresh flowers

 Photo from Canva


The great news is, freshening up your home’s curb appeal doesn’t have to break the bank. A handful of small projects can help grab the attention of potential home buyers. 


Easy home exterior updates:  

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint
  • Plant vibrant, healthy landscaping
  • Replace broken railings 
  • Fix cracks in the cement
  • Pressure wash the exterior of the home and pavement (driveway, sidewalk, porch)  

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Minor Home Repairs and Updates


Let’s go back to the original question: should you make repairs or sell as is? Your answer might lead to no when it comes to larger repairs and projects around the home, but that doesn’t mean that you should do nothing. If turn-key is the goal, then it’s important to perform maintenance and make minor modifications throughout the home as needed.   



painting the wall before listing home for sale


Photo from Canva

Time for fresh paint. 


A fresh coat of neutral paint on the walls is one of the less expensive ways to update your space. Not only does it clean up lived-in walls, but it creates a blank slate for buyers. 


Clean or replace flooring. 


Just as important as providing clean walls is the need for clean flooring. That might mean cleaning the carpet, refinishing hardwood, or cleaning the grout in the tiled areas. If the home has carpet throughout, consider replacing it in the main living areas altogether. Although remember that, just like every trend, the love for carpet in homes ebbs and flows. 


Consider smart home technology.


Small additions like Alexa and Google aren’t a big undertaking when you’re getting your home ready to sell, but they are an attractive asset to home buyers. Consider upgrading the thermostat to the Nest system (or similar) so the new owner can control the temperature right from their phone. 


Replace hardware.


Is your home still sporting brass doorknobs brought to life by the ’90s? It’s time to let them go. Replace outdated hardware throughout your home with something more modern such as brushed nickel, silver, or black.


Patch the walls.


Remember all the extra holes behind photos you made trying to get the frame to hang just right? Now’s the time to fill them. Oh, and don’t forget about the baseball-sized dent your kids made when they were having a little too much fun in the house. 


Replace light bulbs.


You’d better believe every light in your home will shine for showings. Replace any burned-out bulbs. It’s simple, and the consequences for not doing so are far greater than the effort it takes to screw them in.


Install new appliances.


If your current household helpers are on the fritz, a shiny new dishwasher, refrigerator, oven, or washer and dryer can go a long way toward reassuring a buyer that everything is in perfect working order. And it doesn’t hurt that they look nice, too! 


Replace torn window screens.


The wind, pets, kids, and accidents happen—but potential buyers don’t need to know that. Take a walk around the house and fix any torn screens. 


Fix the hidden issues.


It should go without saying that before listing your home for sale, you’ll need to attend to any leaks, cracks, and water damage around the property. 


Clean the whole house.


Lastly (and most importantly), it’s time for a deep clean. The biggest turn-off for any home buyer isn’t going to be the 1970’s kitchen, it’ll be the dingy baseboards, cluttered counters, and dust bunnies floating across the floor. Clear out all unnecessary things in your home, then pay for a professional cleaner to make your home sparkle brighter than it ever has before. 


Learn more: 


And if you’re looking for more incentive to spark interest in these smaller yet tedious updates, Realtor Shannon Cole also notes,


“Another priority is making sure your home is ready for inspection. Once you have an accepted a contract, the buyers will likely have it checked out from top to bottom. Electrical, plumbing, or roofing issues can sometimes be a deal-breaker, or at the very least leverage for negotiations that are often in the buyers' favor. Remedy any known problems in advance or have multiple quotes in hand and be prepared to disclose it upfront and offer a credit.”


Home Upgrades You Can Skip


When converting your garage into a home gym or an office, you can't anticipate how the buyer will want to use the space. Many people seek out large garages to use for their intended purpose. Keep the integrity of the home and allow the buyer to make these bigger modifications should they feel the need to.



finished basement can be a draw when selling home

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Replacing a Bedroom


The space conversion rule applies to bedrooms as well. 


“If your ‘home office’ space is really a bedroom, don’t advertise it as such. Bedrooms often equal value. So list the largest number of bedrooms you can and let potential buyers imagine what they can do with the extra room.” -6 Upgrades You Can Skip When Selling Your Home


Installing a Pool


Even if other homes in the area feature a luxurious pool or hot tub, the return on investment is relatively low. It’s best to focus on other necessities around the home and let the buyer make this addition should they find it necessary.


Finishing the Basement


While it often means an additional playroom, man cave, extra bedroom, or project area, an unfinished basement isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Many home buyers will embrace the opportunity to customize this space to their liking. 


Still, a finished basement can add value to your home, so it’s a good idea to take a look at the market, your finances, and your selling timeline to make an educated decision as to whether you should start this project. 


Getting your house ready to sell is an undoubtedly large undertaking, even if you’re a seasoned home seller. With all of the tools and resources made available, you can have the confidence to budget your repair projects and get to work. And when you’re ready to list your immaculate home on the market, you know where to go—MilitaryByOwner!


If you're thinking of selling your home, the paperwork can seem overwhelming. Understand what documents you need to seal the deal with our free download below!