Don'ts When Renovating to Sell

When it comes to renovating your home prior to selling, it makes sense to focus on areas that get the best return on investment. You’ll want to stick with areas that are important to buyers, such as the kitchen & bathrooms, and updating really out-of-date features. Since plenty of articles share how-tos and to-dos about staging and preparing your home or condo for sale, let’s take a look at some DON’Ts for a change…

Don’t…

…Leave your kitchen cabinets unfinished!

Nothing reminds prospective buyers that you but corners quite like forgetting the finishing touch. Important aspects such as, say, how to open a cabinet or drawer are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of a finished space. Not only do knobs and pulls finish the look, they also serve to give a sense of style to the room and can make a space look sleeker or more traditional depending on what you choose. Bottom line: If you took the time, and likely large expense, to renovate a kitchen or bath prior to putting your home on the market, go ahead and spend the extra $100 for knobs and handles on the cabinetry, and put a coat of finish on them if they don't come pre-finished.

 
 Unfinished? Might as well leave on the box-store price tags!

Unfinished? Might as well leave on the box-store price tags!

 Add some style with clean cabinet finishes, like this beautiful white-on-white kitchen with artistic yet simple knobs.

Add some style with clean cabinet finishes, like this beautiful white-on-white kitchen with artistic yet simple knobs.

 

…Install cheap countertops!

Kitchens are one of the most important rooms in the home when it comes to making the decision to buy a property. Families spend a lot of time in their kitchens. And just like leaving off knobs and pulls, installing cheap granite with no movement that is sold in-stock at every home box store sends the same message: I don't care enough to do it right. (Which, consequently, leads to buyers wondering what else isn't done right that they can't see.)  This isn’t to say you need to spend top-dollar to put in state-of-the-art quartz or super-unique solid surface countertops, but just like above, if you are spending the money to redo this area, use the opportunity to make a statement and give the room some personality.

 
 This plain, in-stock granite looks  fine  but doesn't have any personality!

This plain, in-stock granite looks fine but doesn't have any personality!

 The granite in this Laurel Oak home features tons of movement and is a statement piece for the kitchen.

The granite in this Laurel Oak home features tons of movement and is a statement piece for the kitchen.

 

...Install thin granite!

Are you seeing a theme? Like was mentioned in the introduction, the kitchen is one of the most important spaces in a home when it comes to decision-making. Don’t waste the money on granite if you are going to drop in 1/2" thick granite.  It looks cheap and most people will just see the renovation as something they'll need to replace to get to current standards anyway.  Hence, they'll see more dollar-signs instead of a newly-updated space, which is entirely opposite of your point. 

 
 This 1/2" thick granite doesn't make much of a statement...

This 1/2" thick granite doesn't make much of a statement...

 ...but this 2" thick island says  WOW.

...but this 2" thick island says WOW.

 

...Just update part when the whole room needs it! 

Sometimes it draws more attention to outdated aspects of a space by updating some but not all older features.  A full-on outdated bathroom with small tile and older cabinetry, with the right staging and accessories, can look classic and full of eclectic personality! But updating the yellow laminate countertop in this same vintage space to something chic and new will only call more attention to those parts you didn't update, like the shabby shower door and outdated tile. 

 Cute & Vintage

Cute & Vintage

 Updated & Chic

Updated & Chic

 New Cabinetry + Old Tile = Garish Update

New Cabinetry + Old Tile = Garish Update

...Invest where you won't see return (unless it's necessary)! 

There are utilitarian updates that add tremendous value to your home: the roof and AC are the first that come to mind. Then there are the things sellers update because they think they will see that money come back.  A couple places where you might skip updating unless you have a necessary repair or replacement are:

  • Windows: If they open and close and lock, let them be. Replacing can be both expensive and time-consuming, given that window replacements require permitting.
  • Water Accessories: You need to have a water heater; don't worry about upgrading the size. Likewise, water softeners are a must for few, and a plus for most. Don't add just to sell.
  • Places you can't "see": As long as your majors are covered (like AC and roof as mentioned above), other "guts of the home" renovations might not bring back the return you desire. Stick to repairing and refreshing areas that potential buyers will see while they are making their first impression of your home -- in the photos! Internal home issues can be brought to the table and discussed during inspection and negotiation periods, but you never get the chance to correct the first impression! So de-scuff the moldings, repaint the weird wall colors, swap out antiquated fixtures for something more current, and yes, please hang some inoffensive art to keep it interesting!

If you are considering selling in the near future, let me put my years of both design and real estate experience to work to get you the best return on your investment. Please let me know if I can help you stage your home, offer guidance on major upgrades, or if you need any assistance buying or selling in Sarasota!