Should I Fix up my Los Angeles Home Before Selling?

I am frequently asked by prospective Los Angeles home sellers whether and what they should do to their home before putting it on the market. Should they upgrade the kitchen, put in hardwood flooring, tear off the 1960s wallpaper?  This applies to a home that has seen little in the way of upgrades over the years and is pretty much in original condition.

My answer is generally to do the most they can for the least cost.

It is so tempting to put in a nice new kitchen because it is really going to make the house look so much better.  And to get rid of that ugly carpet and add some hardwood, is really going to add value, right?

You may recoup what you spent on the kitchen, or bathroom, but you will not increase the value of the home above what you spent.  After all your home should be compared to similar homes in the area and priced accordingly.  For example the home that sold down the street was totally upgraded and if you want to match the price it sold for yours is going to have to be in the same condition.  Do you want to go to the trouble and expense of doing the work or would you rather adjust the price you are asking accordingly?

Another problem with making your own upgrades is, they are your upgrades and they may not be to a potential buyer’s taste.  I have seen homes that were totally redone sell and the new buyers gut them because they wanted their own touch.

What you should do before you sell is make the home as presentable cosmetically as possible.  The buyer needs to be as distracted as possible by glaring flaws.

  • If the carpet is old and cannot be cleaned, replace it with a low cost one. This can make a huge difference.  The same with worn linoleum or broken tiles.
  • Loud wallpaper can be removed and/or painted over to make the room look more neutral.
  • Declutter.  Less is more for buyers trying to imagine themselves living in your home.
  • If needed, paint the outside of the home and take care of the landscaping.  That is going to be the first impression for buyers.  You want them to get out of their car and not drive buy.
  • If you know of a problem, fix it before you go on the market. You could even have a home inspection which will discover any potential problems.  Certainly if they are not major then fixing them will avoid future negotiations over them.

Your home is what it is and should be priced according to the market.  There is no magic fix that is going to increase the value, and you need to be careful that what you put in can be recouped.


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