What Should I do to Add Value to My Home before Selling

In nearly every home that I ever been in on a listing appointment, there were things that could be done to improve the sale-ability of the home. The goal of improving your home is to hopefully get more money for your home and reduce the amount of time that your home is on market. I have seen multiple lists with ROI listed for doing certain things to your home, but these lists usually have % increase or a dollar amount and both are IMO highly subjective. Most of the lists have an ROI less than 100% and it most markets, unless the project is to make the home FHA or VA finance-able, it just doesn’t make sense to spend 10K on a project to increase value by 9K. If you are choosing projects because you want your home to look a certain way great, but this article focuses on quick projects specifically for the sale of the home so that your home looks great in pictures, appeals to the broadest audience and attracts the most potential buyers.

The current condition of your home is going to dictate what is going to give you the highest return on investment. So not knowing exactly what style of home, the area or condition of your home it is tough to give you a one size fits all answer. So what should I do to add the most value to my home before selling? Lets jump in and start with things that should be done first and if you already have those things done, great skip to the next section. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that comparable sales often determine your game plan so it would be best to speak with a reputable real estate broker in your neighborhood. If you aren’t to that stage yet, you can always looks through one of the local or national real estate listings portals like Zillow, Trulia or the like to look at remodeled homes for sale to give you an idea of what you might want to do to your home.

Staging Your Home to Sell Quicker and for the Most Money



All of these following projects can actually be categorized as home staging. Even though most people think of home staging as simply adding furniture to the home, staging can include all of the items that I am going to touch on like painting, electrical fixture replacement/lighting, landscaping and even adding carpet and flooring.  In the traditional sense of the phrase “home staging” yes it also makes good fiscal sense to add some furniture and decor that matches the color pallet of the home. In the Seattle, Bellevue areas where I am located staging your home costs anywhere from $1,500 – $3,500 for the furniture and if the home was in good showing condition to begin with this usually means at least a 2.5x – 3x return on your investment. Getting your home in good showing condition may cost substantially more depending on your starting point.

Creating Curb Appeal

This can be the single most important element to helping your home sell. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been on showing appointments with buyers and we show up at the home and don’t even go inside because of poor curb appeal. Your home could look like the Taj Mahal on this inside, but if your home is unappealing or has certain turn-offs for a buyer they may never even go inside. While the required budget will depend on your starting point it is vital to max out your homes curb appeal.

Now typically, this at the very minimum means mowing the lawn, edging, adding fresh landscaping bark/mulch and maybe some new plants/flowers. This is your homes first impression to the homes new owners and you want to make sure that your home looks inviting. The first thing I would recommend is power washing the exterior of the home, windows, all walkways, driveways and clean up the roof.

Any paint that is peeling be sure to scrape and touch-up. I like to repaint the trim in the front, particularly if its a white or lighter color. Another item that it often overlooked is outside lighting. Small porch lights and their housing are really inexpensive to replace and can improve appearance and add more light, particularly if you are selling during the winter months and will have visitors during the dark ours. Remove anything from your front yard that detracts from the natural beauty. I love pink flamingos, but not everyone shares my adoration for flamingos. Another thing that I love to add to the front of the home is hanging flower baskets, they are relatively inexpensive and add the perfect amount of color to your home.

Clean and De-clutter your Home

Once your new potential buyers get in the front door you want to keep them in the home at least long enough to see everything. Ideally, you want to create an environment where these new potential owners can see themselves living. So the less stuff of yours still hanging around, especially personal items or things that might be considered offensive to someone, the easier that is to accomplish. Think minimalist! It is common for home sellers looking to make the most amount of money on their homes to rent a storage unit. You will want to have all of your closets with plenty of space so they look roomy. For most sellers, myself included this means removing 70% of the items from their closets. Don’t stop there! Bookshelves and media shelves are another area that tend to get filled up over time, you want the new prospective homeowner to believe that this home will be spacious enough to fit all of their belongings. In general you want to remove anything and everything possible in preparation for your new move. Moving is a great time to get rid of those unwanted and unused items that have been collecting dust over the years.

Once you have de-cluttered your home and taken care of the rest of the items it is time to do some deep cleaning. If you are like me you are probably not a huge fan of the proverbial “spring cleaning”, but trust me when I say that your bank account will thank you. Too many times I have been in homes with clients that are totally put-off by homes that were, let’s just say, not the cleanest. Cleaning is something that nearly all of us are capable of doing. If you don’t feel like doing the deep down clean that your buyers will appreciate, just hire a professional home cleaner than can handle the task for a couple hundred dollars.

Touch Up and Painting

Now it goes without saying that if you have some chipping paint, especially if there is the possibility of lead based paint that needs to be handled. What about the rest of the home? Well it depends, but I will tell you from experience that bleach water will go a long ways toward refreshing your homes paint. The idea again here is to lighten and brighten and make your home appealing to the largest amount of people possible. If you have darker paint in any rooms, I would definitely consider repainting it a lighter grey, tan or white color. As an investor I have flipped plenty of homes and nearly all of them were painted a light contractor tan or white. These lighter colors are not only more inviting, they brighten up the home and match most any decor.

Spruce Up Electrical and Lighting Before Selling

The phrase that is most often used when talking about preparing your home for sale is “lighten and brighten” your home. This is done in several different ways. Replacing smaller wattage bulbs with brighter bulbs is the most cost effective way to brighten your home. And if you are worried about the costs of the new bulbs, take them with you, just make sure you leave your old bulbs in place at the home when you leave. One of the items that dates a home the most is the electrical fixtures. These items are relatively inexpensive costing about $15 each and maybe $40 or so if you have ceiling fans. The work is very simple too, something that most would feel comfortable doing themselves after watching a YouTube video on the subject. All told to replace fixtures and bulbs in average sized homes this will cost about $300 and well worth the price if you are selling your home.

Upgrade Carpets and Floors

These are usually a larger ticket item costing anywhere between $3 – $5 PSQFT and up depending on the level of home. While it is not always necessary sometimes you can get away with just cleaning the carpets. I probably would not waste my time on the home unit or the machine that you can rent for $10 a day. Most carpet cleaners can do a whole home for under $250. Hardwoods can also be refinished, though the costs can sometimes be as much as just replacing the old hardwoods for new material. Again it is usually best to speak with a real estate professional or multiple real estate brokers to determine the best course of action. And please make those brokers work for their money, if they want to sell your home and have a huge list of items to fix make them give you the as/is sales price and the price if they do all of the work.

Call Gabriel Heck Today for a FREE In-Home Analysis


My humble roots in the real estate business, began as a house flipper over 20 years ago. I truly understand the most cost effective ways to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to getting a home ready to sell. I work for one of the largest residential real estate investment firms on the West Coast that specializes in acquiring homes for clients that flip homes. My list of reputable, proven contractors is readily available for my clients. With larger projects I often save my clients more than they are paying me in commission to sell their homes. With just a one hour meeting I can tell you exactly what you can do to your home to make the most money, give you projected sales prices and show you returns on your investment. My greatest skills are helping clients buy flipped homes and helping clients get their home ready to sell. If you are looking for a broker that understands the difference in values, knows how to get repair work done cheaply and efficiently give Gabriel Heck a call at 425-835-3108.