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How to Prioritize Home Improvements Before Selling

This month, a special guest writer makes an appearance on Oak Street’s Blog: Bret Engle from! Bret is not only a professional architect and DIY expert, he’s also releasing a book called How to DIY Damn Near EverythingIf you’re thinking about listing your home, check out his tips below for the most important projects you need to tackle before you sell. Then give us a call and we’ll have your home sold in record time!

How to Prioritize Home Improvements Before Selling

If you are currently in the market to sell your home, you are probably starting to put together a list of improvements that need to be made. These improvements might be necessary to the functionality of the house and/or to increase your home’s market value. Either way, there are plenty of projects you can tackle on your own and many that you should hire professionals for. It’s extremely important to know the difference!

Simple DIY Improvements

Many of the cosmetic improvements can be made by yourself, especially if you are somewhat handy with a paintbrush and hammer. But it’s not always easy to know what needs to be done first. Here are a few projects you can check off your to-do list which, depending on your experience, may or may not require the help of friends or neighbors:

  1. Paint: Not sure what color to pick? According to one study, homes with rooms painted lighter shades of blue and periwinkle (especially bathrooms) sold for a little over $5,000 more on average.
  2. Plant a Tree: Landscaping can be tricky, and some people would rather leave it to the professionals. But if you feel particularly good about your green thumb, planting a tree or two can boost your property value by quite a bit. In fact, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a home’s property value. In addition to that, with the right placement, they can drastically cut your cooling bills.
  3. Upgrade Your Front Entry: ERA’s Kristin Willens says, “People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.” Therefore, it stands to reason that an appealing entryway could make a big difference in a potential home buyer’s decision.


Kitchen and Bathroom Improvements

Architect Steve Straughan of Los Angeles says that the kitchen and bathroom are the two areas “where you can tell if money has been well spent or not.” In other words, when potential home buyers see a nicely updated kitchen and bathroom, they are likely to assume that the rest of the house is well-kept as well. According to HomeAdvisor, in Nashville, you can expect to pay between $11,808 – $30,668 for a full kitchen remodel.

When to Hire a Professional

Many projects can be done on your own, such as painting and replacing faucets, but others may require professional help, and it’s important to know the difference. Keep in mind that often any electrical and plumbing upgrades or structural work require permits. Pros have the knowledge of which jobs require permits, and can complete the paperwork for you.


Improvements You Should Prioritize

If your home is in need of functional repairs (e.g., it has roofing issues or bad plumbing), those should certainly take precedence over cosmetic improvements. Most professionals agree that, at a minimum, the following should be repaired before selling: holes or cracks in walls and ceilings, heating and air problems, leaky faucets, bad carpeting, broken windows, leaky roofs, and dated light fixtures. Once all these issues are addressed, it is safe to move on to cosmetic updates.

Prioritizing the home improvements that must be made will help you with your list of potential projects to take on. You may find after making these repairs that further renovations simply won’t be cost-effective in giving you the best ROI (return on investment). If you are not sure which projects to tackle first, it can sometimes be helpful to contact your realtor for a complimentary walk-through to give you some advice. And always recognize your limitations. Never try to take on repair tasks that are better left to the professionals. It’s better to have them done right the first time than to have to hire someone to repair your mistakes.


Article provided by Bret Engle from


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