Find out about the best home improvement projects for selling a house. Learn why you should give the house a fresh coat of paint, paint kitchen cabinets, and service the heating and air conditioning systems.
LESLIE: Jeri (sp) in Vernon, New Jersey finds The Money Pit on WABC. And you’re calling for some advice on kitchen repair for selling the home . How can we help?
JERI (sp): Yes. We’re interested in selling the house but a lot of the realtors said that we should update it. I was wondering what do we have to update. Usually what is the best thing so we could, you know, sell the house?
TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, if you’re going to put the house on the market, I always recommend that you get a professional home inspection before you put the home on the market. Because in this market, it’s difficult to sell a home. You’re going to probably be negotiating down to your bottom dollar. And you don’t want the buyers’ home inspector to discover things that you’re unaware of and end up having to negotiate even more money off the selling price. Getting a home inspection done up front gives you a chance to sort of establish a base line on the condition of the house. And also, if you find out there are any problems, you can either disclose them or you could repair them.
Now, in terms of improving the house – areas that are most common to improve – let me give you the example of a relocation company. Now a relocation company is in the business of taking over homes that have to be sold quickly because people are moving out of the area. Generally, what a relocation company does when they take over a home is they paint the entire inside of the home …
LESLIE: Beige or white.
TOM: Beige or white. And then they recarpet the home with beige carpet. So they totally neutralize the home. They’ll take care of any minor maintenance repairs that have to be done. They’ll service the air conditioning system . They’ll service the heating system. And generally, that’s pretty much it. Any improvements that you make over that, you may not be able to get an immediate return on investment . But if you wanted to look at, say, one or two extra steps, I would tell you to look at the kitchen or the bathroom as the best areas to improve. And even if you do improve those areas, Leslie, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, does it?
LESLIE: No, it depends on what you want to do. Again, with kitchens, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on doing a natural stone countertop  because it – while it could be very exciting for you and the new owner, it might not be exactly what they’re looking for. And then in the end it could end up costing you money. Freshen up the cabinets . Clean them up. If they are painted, give them a fresh coat of paint. If they just kind of look dated, go ahead and either refinish them or repaint them. And that can be done very easily. I would say really stick to things that keep things neutral and don’t spend a lot of money because you never know how that’s going to affect the buyer.
TOM: Yeah, Jeri (sp), you’d be amazed at how much of an impact just replacing the hardware on the cabinets can have. So there are little things like that that you can do that can make a big impact.
If you want more information, on our website at MoneyPit.com we wrote a story called “Cheap Tricks for Cool Kitchens ” that will give you a lot of these sorts of ideas of inexpensive ways that you can makeover a kitchen or even a bathroom to have it look really, really good without spending a lot of money.
Jeri (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.