Whether or not to make improvements before listing your home is a big decision that can dramatically influence not only the sale price but also the speed and smoothness of the transaction. Here’s a look at the upsides and downsides of making improvements before putting out the for sale sign.

Pros of making improvements before selling

Increased property value
The most compelling reason to upgrade your home before selling is the potential for a higher sales price. Strategic improvements, especially in high-impact areas like kitchens and bathrooms, can significantly enhance a home’s appeal and functionality, if those areas in their current state would be a detriment.

For instance, if your home still has a 1970’s era kitchen, then renovating should increase your net profit. However, if your kitchen is relatively new and in good condition, then a renovation may not return the amount of money invested.

Enhanced curb appeal
As the old saying goes, we only have one chance to make a first impression. Simple enhancements—such as fresh paint, landscaping, and updated fixtures—can make a substantial difference. A home that looks well-cared-for and inviting from the outside can put a buyer in a positive mindset before they ever enter the home. Indeed, most home buyers begin their search on the Internet, so the first thing they usually see is a picture of the outside of your home. From there, expectations are set.

Faster sale process
An updated home appeals to most buyers. Sellers can facilitate a quicker sale process by making necessary repairs and updates.

Cons of making improvements before selling

High upfront costs
Despite the potential for a higher sale price, the upfront costs can be significant. Major renovations require a substantial investment; sometimes more than the owner may have on hand.
Fortunately, we have contractors who will do the work up front and wait to get paid at settlement.

Risk of not recouping investments
There is always the risk that the cost will not be fully recouped in the sale price. Not all renovations offer a high return on investment. Local market conditions can affect the ultimate value of the improvements. Luxury upgrades in a modest neighborhood might not attract enough premiums to justify the expense. It is important to know who your likely buyer will be.

Personal taste vs. market demand
Home improvements guided by personal taste rather than buyer preference can sometimes hinder a sale. For instance, choosing the wrong paint color, even if it is a personal favorite, may actually hurt the sale price.

Time and effort required
Renovating a home before sale is costly but also time-consuming. Planning, executing and managing home improvements can be time consuming. This could pose a problem for sellers on a tight timeline.

Homeowners must weigh these factors against their personal circumstances. Making informed, strategic decisions can lead to a more prosperous and satisfying sales experience.