What Should I Renovate? How Much is Too Much to Sell Your House?

What Should I Renovate? How Much is Too Much to Sell Your House?

While the current market makes you feel like you have to pull out all the stops in order to get your house sold, your bank account may tell you otherwise. The question is, “How much is too much?” when it comes to fixing up your house to put it on the market or to even potentially renovate with a future sale in mind. What are the right things to do? Where should our attention be placed for our home sale?

With questions like this, I turned to Donna Hildebrand who is a Licensed Real Estate Broker at Hildebrand Homes and Real Estate Consulting in Oneonta, New York. I asked Donna what a homeowner should consider when it comes to home renovations prior to putting a house on the market. Here are her responses:

How much is TOO much when it comes to renovations?”

“If people are going to invest money into home renovations, the first thing people should think about would be not to overdo the house for the location – don’t spend a lot of money putting in top of the line things like granite counter tops, extravagant kitchens, sub zero fridges, etc., if the houses in the area aren’t holding that kind of value. You’ll lose money on your investment.”

“One of the first things a house is priced on is location. You can always change a house, but you can’t change a location. If the area doesn’t warrant that kind of upgrade, then you won’t get a return. You have to take that location value and the other house values into consideration when you’re thinking about renovations. Keep in line with the competition – know who your competition is. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to see some of the houses up for sale to do a comparison. See what’s going on in the homes around you and use that as a guide. You can use online sources to do the comparison. Most real estate agents put pictures up so you can see what’s going on.”

Yes, but what is a buyer looking for when your house is up for sale?”

“Remember that when a buyer comes in a house, they’re looking for hardwood floors, kitchens, and bathrooms. That’s probably where you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you turn around to sell it.”

“As far as bathrooms are concerned, people like to see a master bedroom with an on suite bath. They like tubs and showers that are separate. They like double sinks. If there’s room, people like their linen closet in the bathroom for their towels and other storage items. Who wants to walk down a hallway soaking wet to get a new towel?”

“Upgrading floors with tile is always good. There’s fabulous tile that’s not that expensive. Keep in mind if your house is mid-range or upper-range. People don’t like fiber glass inserts, they think they’re cheap. You don’t want to stick a fiber glass insert into an upper-range house.”

Jacuzzi bathtubs – yea or nay?”

“I think that’s a buyer preference, and you’re never going to nail that on the head. It’s just something that you don’t know. Some are moving away from it because, if something goes wrong, you have to pull the whole bathroom apart to fix it. A lot of people don’t have the time to sit in the tub. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money, but, again, it’s personal preference. You’re never going to please everyone.”

“So, what’s your opinion on kitchens?”

“You try to update the kitchen as much as possible without causing yourself to go bankrupt. If you feel your kitchen is dated, you should really try to update it. If you’re on a major budget, paint the cabinets if they’re too dated. It’s very inexpensive to sand, strip, and paint those cabinets. New hardware goes a long way.”

“As for the counter tops, the man made quartz is lasting so much longer and is made so much better now. There are some beautiful laminate counter tops being produced that can be used if you’re on a budget. Whatever you do, if you think it needs to be updated, do it the best way you can if you’re on a budget. Some of the cabinets made a long time ago outlast the new ones made nowadays too.”

Appliances – are we risking losing a sale if we don’t have stainless steel appliances?”

“Appliances are a personal opinion. A lot of people are going for stainless steel, but stainless steel shows marks and are hard to keep clean. You can get the same nice look with an enamel product. Buyers go into houses and they’re very, very picky. However, the first thing they notice is a nice, clean home. The updates are important, but are secondary to a home that’s been well maintained, de-cluttered, and clean. A seller shouldn’t go bankrupt over upgrades. The fact is that a buyer may come in and change it anyway. As long as the basics are done using some paint, cleaning, etc., that can be good enough.”

What about the exterior of the house? Should I be concerned?”

“The exterior of the house is important. That’s what brings the buyer into the house. I’ve seen buyers get to a house and refuse to go in based on what the outside looks like. You have to have the outside looking good in order to get them inside. Rake leaves, trim shrubs, plant shrubs – curb appeal is important. Clean off the vinyl siding. What goes a long way is to change out a front door if the front door is really old. Curb appeal is everything. You don’t have to put in a patio, make an outdoor kitchen, or anything major like that – just think bright, neat, and clean. This holds true through on the inside and outside of the home.”

Is there anything else I should know regarding home renovations prior to selling my home?”

“If you’re going to do a major renovation, go to the town, and see whether or not you need permits. If they find out you’re doing it ,and you don’t have a permit, they’ll stop the work. Even worse, you may have to undo everything you did. It could also potentially end a sale if you did the work without the proper permits.”

“Whatever you do, don’t put yourself into debt doing it. Keep it simple, neutral, and bright…don’t try to second guess what people will like. What you like doesn’t mean a potential buyer will like.”

To my readers:  Donna is more than a typical real estate broker.  She’s been a person that our family has been able to trust over the years.  That kind of trust and caring for the well-being of others makes her not only an incredible human being, but a world class real estate broker.  Being able to find a person with integrity and ethics is a great way to sell your home.  Thank you, Donna, for sharing your knowledge and opinions. If you are in the New York area and need a real estate agent, I would highly recommend Donna as being your go-to person.

 Donna Hildebrand, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Hildebrand Homes and Real Estate Consulting

Oneonta, New York


 Disclaimer:  Opinions expressed in this blog are only opinions.  It is up to the homeowner to decide as to what renovations are right for the sale of his/her home.

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