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Jonathan Scott: Updates to make when your house is for sale

It’s time to sell your home, and of course you want to make as much money as possible on it. Here are five critical areas that will get you your money back and then some.

Johnathan Scott

Jonathan Scott, of the hit show Property Brothers, knows the ins and outs of home renovations. There’s a difference between renovating your home to live in and renovating your home to sell. “If you’re renovating just to sell, well, you want to make sure that you’re not over-renovating, because you could put more money in than you’ll get back,” he advises. So what areas should we put our money into in order to ensure we get it back, plus some?

What not to do

Jonathan states, “A lot of people say that they’ll put all their money into just the kitchen and bathroom, and leave everything else as-is. You’re not fooling buyers these days. If you’re renovating to sell, you’re better off doing a light makeover to the entire house, and then maybe spend a little more in the kitchen and bath.”

Kitchen and bathroom remodels are the priciest, with average kitchen remodels being upwards of $50,000 and average bathroom remodels being $20,000. Keep in mind that most people end up spending thousands more than the average just on these two areas alone.

First and foremost, do not get emotionally involved in the decisions. Choose items that are affordable and will make your home more appealing, thus upping your chances of selling it at a higher price. Refurbish items yourself if possible, and always check sites like eBay or Craigslist to land the best deal.

If you’re looking to sell, here are five upgrades you can’t afford to skip


Fresh paint

Nothing says clean like a new coat of fresh paint on the walls. Paint typically needs to be applied every three to five years to keep the walls looking clean and bright, especially if you have children or pets. Choose light colors that appeal to the general population, and steer clear of harsh, dark colors that tend to make rooms look smaller. If you can paint the home yourself, you’ll save even more money.


New carpeting/flooring

When walking into a home, one of the first things people notice is the flooring. For carpet, hire a professional cleaning company to come in and remove stains and deep clean it. If hardwood is beneath the carpeting, it’s most cost-effective to remove the carpet altogether. Keep in mind that installing brand new carpet is very expensive, and you more than likely will not get that money back, so it’s only recommended if it’s absolutely necessary. Another option is to learn how to install laminate flooring. It’s inexpensive and easy to do, and it makes a huge difference in the home visually.


Upgrade kitchen faucet and hardware

This will run you a few hundred dollars, but it’s a great way to enhance the kitchen without entirely renovating it. While you’re at it, clean the insides and outsides of cabinets and repair any scratches. We recommend using a Tibet Almond Stick for an inexpensive way to remove dings.


Consider painting — yes, painting — kitchen counter tops. This is an extremely inexpensive way to spruce up the kitchen. If you’re looking to add value, replace the laminate with new laminate that resembles granite or another stone.


Make small bathroom updates

We all know bathrooms are expensive to remodel, so instead of doing a full-on renovation, upgrade a few key areas. Replace the toilet sealing, install a pedestal sink if yours is outdated, look on eBay or Overstock for newer vanities and upgrade the light fixtures. These small, inexpensive changes speak volumes to potential homebuyers.


Lighting and fans

The final items you’ll want to renovate when selling your home are the light fixtures and ceiling fans. Home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, sell a variety of chandeliers, ceiling fans and lighting for a relatively low cost. Switch out fluorescent lights that you may find in the kitchen with more modern recessed lights. You can also switch out the ceiling fan blades instead of the entire fan to cut costs.

Final tip

Stage your home to make it appealing to buyers. A clean, well-lit home that smells fresh (consider baking cookies or lighting a candle before showing your house) speaks volumes to the potential homebuyer. It shows you care about your home and work at keeping it up.

More on home improvements

The cost of hiring an interior designer: Is it worth it?
Lowe’s expert Q&A: Plumbing edition
Why does my refrigerator make that noise?

Photo credit: Judy Eddy/

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