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The Do’s and Don’ts of Upgrades for Selling Your Home

Best and Worst Home Renovations for Resale

If you’re planning on spending time, money and sweat equity upgrading your home and getting it ready to turn over to the next owner, there are some things to know before you get started. Any investments you make in upgrading your home should be ones that actually increase your home’s value.

To get top dollar for your home, you need to be aware of the best home improvements you can do to increase resale value and recoup your investment. But you also need to be cautious of doing any improvements that won’t pay off in the end. Though there are certain upgrades that add value, there are others that can actually turn away potential buyers.

This guide will walk you through the do’s and don’ts of home upgrades to help you attract the right kinds of buyers. Preparing and prioritizing your home improvement projects will keep you focused on selling your home for the best price possible.

Factors That Determine Return on Investment

When deciding which home upgrades to pursue, you’ll want to determine which ones will give you the best return on investment. This means you must pick the projects that will add the most value to your house with the least cost to you.

The value a buyer sees is dependent on many different factors and can, of course, vary from person to person. Some factors that can influence a buyer’s decision include:

  • Quality and type of materials used in the project
  • Quality of finishes
  • Comparable homes in the neighborhood
  • Personal style and taste

In other words, there are some factors you just can’t control. That’s why it’s important to attract the right buyers from the start. The key is knowing where to invest your resources, and doing so wisely.

This will help you make a game plan and determine what your home upgrade priorities are. While there’s no set-in-stone solution for ensuring your home renovations will pay off, there are some definite guidelines to follow.

5 Best Upgrades to Increase Home Value

5 Best Home Upgrades


You may be thinking any improvement is a good improvement, but that’s not always the case. There are home upgrade projects that are smarter than others when it comes to recouping your investment. While some upgrades may add lots of value to the home, they may also cost a lot to implement.

Here are some of the best upgrades that experts recommend to get the best possible ROI:

  • Update the kitchen
  • Enhance the bathrooms
  • Improve underutilized or unfinished space
  • Fix up the exterior and landscaping
  • Modernize and brighten with new lighting

You don’t necessarily need to do all of these. Instead, select the ones that will make the biggest difference in your own home.


  1. Kitchen Upgrades

The kitchen is the new living room. Decades ago, family and friends gathered in the living room for parties and get-togethers. Today, it’s the kitchen where people love to gather around to snack and drink together. The more open-concept you can make your kitchen layout, the better off you’ll be.

While kitchen upgrades may seem like an obvious place to start, experts caution against diving right in. They’ve actually found that a kitchen facelift can give you a better rate of return than a full kitchen upgrade. The reason is that fresh paint, new and modern hardware or updated appliances actually cost less to implement and install than a full kitchen renovation. They can also dramatically improve your home’s appeal.

While new or fully gutted kitchens certainly sell homes, they’re incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Though you may get a return, you won’t get the same high-level return that you would with a moderately inexpensive facelift.

  1. Bathrooms

If you have an older home, you may notice that your bathtub or shower is beginning to show its age. Buyers will definitely see this. Spruce up your tub, re-grout your tile and make sure every fixture is sparkling clean.

If your bathroom is outdated, new fixtures can make a world of difference. Consider the shape your flooring is in and add new tile or laminate if needed. A new countertop or new hardware on the cupboards and drawers will also modernize your bathroom’s appearance.

You may also want to try something as simple as adding a new elegant mirror. This subtle change can make a big impact when the buyer first walks in.

  1. Improve Underutilized Space

Finishing a basement or an attic space can add value to a home. Growing families need additional space for their kids, visitors and other family members. It also helps create additional storage solutions that are functional, too. Extra basement or attic areas are a way for homeowners to maximize space by creating more usable square footage.

Turning a basement or attic into a playroom, or adding in a suite, is a great long-term plan for your home. Buyers will appreciate that the work has been done, and they’ll also be able to pictures themselves using the space for their own lifestyle.

  1. Landscaping and Exterior

When it’s time to think about selling your home, don’t overlook your landscaping and exterior. Often, homeowners become focused on cosmetic upgrades inside their homes and forget about the outside. But buyers notice everything. A good first impression is extremely important — and that starts with the yard.

Keep the lawn healthy and trimmed. Prune any overgrown shrubs. Clean up garden beds and remove fallen leaves and branches.

As for your home’s front entrance, remove papers and any items that you’ve left out front. Make sure the area in front of the entrance is properly swept and that your front door looks inviting. Adding the extra effort will go a long way toward creating a great first impression.

  1. Lighting

Always keep in mind how a buyer will feel when they’re inside your home. If a home is too dark, it will feel closed in. If a home is bright, it will look more open and create a positive feeling.

New modern light fixtures will not only brighten your home, but also enhance its cosmetic appeal. Get rid of any broken, outdated or non-functioning fixtures. This especially applies to ceiling fans, which have certainly evolved over time. If it’s outdated, replace it. It will make a big difference in how prospective buyers see your home.

3 Upgrades that Don’t Increase Home Value

Home Upgrades That Do Not Increase Value


While some improvements are necessary to increase your home’s worth, others won’t add value at all. If you’re considering selling, here are some of the worst home improvement projects for resale. These are features that buyers often overlook, and therefore aren’t worth the money.

  • Sound systems and home theaters
  • Saunas, Whirlpools, Jacuzzis and hot tubs
  • Large master suite renovations
  1. Sound Systems and Home Theaters

While home theaters with surround sound systems are a nice luxury to have, most buyers aren’t willing to pay more for a home that comes with them. If you’ve installed these systems in your home, don’t expect that everyone will appreciate them the same way you do.

  1. Saunas, Whirlpools and Hot Tubs

Along the same lines as the home theatre, saunas and hot tubs are luxury items. Many people think of them as an added expense and responsibility. You don’t have to downplay these features altogether, but don’t build your sales pitch around them.

  1. Large Master Suite Renovations

Massive master suites were popular in the ‘90s. French doors, bay windows and even seating areas were considered luxury features of the master bedroom. Today, buyers aren’t as impressed by these. If you’ve done a master suite renovation or addition, chances are buyers won’t value its luxury.

Today, large master suites are seen as taking up valuable space that could be used for something more functional. Otherwise, buyers feel it’s just more square footage to fill and maintain and will remain underutilized. While it may not turn buyers away completely, a luxurious master suite certainly won’t add as much value to your home as other projects may.

5 Upgrades that Could Turn Buyers Away

Home Upgrades Turn Buyers Away

It’s important to also understand and be aware of any traits or characteristics of your home that will turn buyers away entirely.

Remember that everyone has unique styles and tastes. Some people enjoy a flashy style that’s full of flair, but most people are generally turned off by it. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves living in your home. By keeping your home’s color scheme and décor as neutral as possible, you allow them to paint their own picture-perfect style.

Here are some examples of upgrades or décor that may have worked for you, but will likely turn buyers away:


  • Flashy fixtures
  • Eccentric or unique features
  • Wallpaper that’s outdated or improperly maintained
  • Too much carpeting
  • Sloppy handiwork and poorly constructed renovations
  1. Flashy Fixtures

Remember pink or wooden toilets, sinks and bathtubs? Or maybe you’ve tried to forget. These never go over well when it comes to trying to sell your home. Buyers will take one look at these and add another item to their renovation to-do list. These outdated fixtures are seen as an inconvenience and can actually cause buyers to devalue your home.

  1. Anything “Too” Unique

Wild paint colors and eccentric light fixtures aren’t the best way to woo buyers. Again, keeping your décor light, neutral and non-offensive is what will hook would-be homeowners. 

  1. Wallpaper

Some wallpaper can look fresh, updated and even high-end. In most situations, however, that’s just not the case. Usually wallpaper is outdated, tacky and poorly maintained. If you have wallpaper leftover from when you first purchased your home, it’s best to scrap it and go with a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint.

If you like the idea of wallpaper, consult a designer for great ideas on modern ways to enhance the look of your room.

  1. Excessive Amounts of Carpeting

If you’re carpeting is old, outdated or, frankly, too ever-present, it can really deter buyers. Especially if they suffer from allergies or have pets.

Replace as much of your carpeting as possible with hardwood or laminate floors. If that’s not in the budget, at the very least have your carpets professionally cleaned before you put your house on the market. If carpeting is worn out or improperly maintained, buyers will notice immediately.

  1. Poorly Constructed or Unfinished Renovations

If you’ve started a renovation and run out of the budget or willpower to finish it, it can seriously turn off potential buyers. Not only have you started something that was originally designed to meet your own needs, but it’s not even finished! Buyers see this as another inconvenient project to take over.

In the case of renovations that you’ve already completed, make sure they were finished properly. Any obviously poorly constructed upgrades such as a deck, closet or additional bedroom are going to lower the value of your home in the buyer’s eyes. Not only will it look sloppy, but it will also cause them to think they’re taking a risk on your handiwork.

5 Tips for Prioritizing Your Home Improvement Projects

If you’ve decided to begin your home improvement projects, here are some tips to help plan your attack before you dive right in.

  1. Consider Your Budget

Budget Money
Where budget is concerned, it can be overwhelming when deciding which projects to start with. Objectively look at your home and decide which areas need the most improvement. Make a priority list of the projects you need to tackle first. Look for tips and tricks on how to save money doing home upgrades and plan your budget accordingly.


  1. Budget Your Time

Budget Time

Home improvement projects always take longer than expected. If you aren’t realistic about your timeframe, you can easily lose the ambition you started with. Just like your monetary budget, put a cap on the amount of time you want to spend upgrading your home.

It’s better to take on fewer projects and finish them completely than to start several and leave them unfinished.


  1. Determine a Timeline for Selling

Timeline to Sell HouseIf you’re anxious to get your house on the market, prioritize your projects by how much time they will take. Pick the projects that are the easiest cosmetic updates like fixtures, paint and hardware.

If you’re in no big rush, you can make a game plan for tackling everything (or most things) on your priority list.


  1. Ask Friends and Family for Advice

Ask a Friend for Home AdviceIf you feel that your home could use a few different upgrades but don’t know where to start, ask your friends and family. Chances are they aren’t as emotionally attached to your home as you are. They can give you helpful advice on which areas of your home need upgrading and which ones can wait.


  1. Consult a Realtor

Consult RealtorRealtors are experts in what sells and what doesn’t. An agent will be able to give you professional advice about which upgrades will help sell your home. They’ll also be able to let you know which are the worst home improvements for resale. Plus, realtors have access to sales data and information that can further help you with your decision.



Maximizing You Home’s Value

When it comes to home upgrades, it’s always best to think strategically about how you can maximize your home’s value and minimize your own investment in it. Though it can be overwhelming, there are definite steps you can take in selecting your best home upgrades for resale. Remember that your own time and money are precious resources, as well. Consult an expert at CENTURY 21 Core today and decide which are the most important upgrades you can do to increase your home’s value.



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