How Not To Over Improve


If you are preparing to list your home for sale, you should be looking hard at what you might have to repair before you start showing buyers your space. Excuse the dramatic expression:

Selling a home today is like going to war!

You have to be wildly prepared, take all romantic notions of your home and its glory days out of your head, and focus hard on the task at hand – until you’ve achieved your goal.
Only you know what state your home and finances are in. The journey to putting your home up for sale must start with a careful plan and some serious education. It would be silly to list your home without seeing your competition. Walk through any listed homes in your neighborhood to see what your prospective buyers are looking at before and after your home. How do you stack up?



Talk to a realtor. Aside from listing your home, they can show you ‘comps’ – comparable homes in your area and what materials and features they contain. This will help you see where your home fits into the buyers’ puzzle that is your real estate market today.

Does everyone else on the block have granite and you have Formica? Do you have original wood windows and every other home has has vinyl? Do you have a fabulous deck and nobody else does? Know your property and your finances very well – including your realtors’ professional take on the assets of your home – and the maximum price they see your home selling for.

When you look around your home and see things like cracked and worn countertops, chipped and broken tiles in the bathroom, and peeling linoleum floors, you’ve got some work to do.

Remodeling a home before you sell it is NOT about design. It’s certainly not about luxury. Remodeling to sell is all about removing obstacles to sale. It’s about fixing glaring problems that someone else doesn’t want to hassle with.

The best updates before you sell are those that fix a problem. Painting your eccentric color schemes back to neutrals solve a problem. Replacing cracked and worn kitchen countertops solve a problem. Don’t let your personal taste creep into these updates even a little bit!

Your goal in remodeling before you sell is to fix what’s ugly, dated or damaged – with the most affordable solutions. Any materials you select in this process should be clean, simple and classic. If you catch yourself using a name brand or a buzz word – take a step back and check yourself. That’s not what this is about.

All these efforts must additionally be supported by everyone keeping their space clean and neat for open houses, a serious de-cluttering of your home before you list it, and vigilantly ‘staging’ your own home to show in its best light.

With some tough skin, some elbow grease, and a small investment in repairs, you could be well on your way to moving forward with the next phase of your life – wherever that may be!

What do you wish someone would swoop in and fix about your home?

Comments (2)

  1. kim halverson says:

    Excellent advice Laurie! It helps to bring in a staging pro, even if it's just for a consultation. Almost every time, it results in higher asking price.

    • Laurie_March says:

      Hi Kim!

      It's amazing how a consultation with a stager can help you see a space with new eyes. Most homeowners have a hard time seeing past their own belongings to how a space needs to look for a buyer.

      Kudos to you for recommending stagers to your clients! I bet they're thrilled with the speed in which a staged home sells.

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