With the popularity of HGTV shows that focus on flipping, homeowners have become very open and even expecting to do work to their homes before selling. The question I get from my clients is, what should I do and what sort of return should I expect.

We took a sunroom that was enclosed and had good windows. The carpet needed replacing. We cleaned up some of the finish work, and now we have room that feels very functional, fresh, and comfortable.

Although we are in a strong seller’s market here in Santa Clara, that shouldn’t excuse homeowners from trying their best to make their homes more marketable. The area has lots of quality buyers that will pay good prices for homes that are fixed up and updated. However, homeowners need to be careful and plan out their improvements. Just because you improve a kitchen or bathrooms may not give you the results that you expected.


As a realtor, I approach this situation from the top-down. The first thing I consider, are the wall and floor finishes clean and in good to great shape. You don’t want to sell a home with dingy, dark paint or worn flooring. Improving the flooring and wall surfaces of a home provide the highest return. They can make a home feel consistent, fresh, and bright.

Old lighting fixtures remind the buyers of the age of the home. Switching out the mismatched, old switches and outlets help to make the home feel updated and is relatively inexpensive to do.


Previous bathroom was original and featured an 18 inch wall mounted sink and square 30 inch shower stall. We took out one of the hall closets and added a 48″ vanity and larger stall shower.

After you address those simple updates, its time to analyze the home and look for any obvious inconsistencies and weak areas. A home may be very well maintained but have elements that are 10-20 years old and outdated. As long as its consistent it may not warrant any updating. The cost of the improvements over the benefit of the existing amenities may be a wash or have little effect. Where you could see a benefit is when you improve an aspect of the home to make it more functional. Such as granite countertops over tile, enlarging a kitchen, or a small bathroom. If these opportunities are there, it may warrant the improvement and make the home more desirable.


When spending money to improve a home for sale, be wary of some advice that you get from Realtors.  Remodelling the kitchen does not always guarantee a good return.  If the kitchen is small, it may not matter to the home buyer how nice it is.  Also just swapping out cabinets, countertops and appliances without any thought of improving design may cost you an easy opportunity to improve the kitchen’s functionality.

Overall, home buyers are looking for consistency.  If the home is a fixer upper all the way through, then improving one aspect of the home isn’t going to impress a fussy buyer and will not get the result you are after.  A home seller’s focus should be on maintaining consistency in the home, and getting it to show its best.  Simple updates with lighting, fixtures, flooring and paint should always be considered.  When considering major updates to kitchen, bathrooms, and windows make sure they are warranted and will add a return on investment.


Santa Clara Real Estate Guy
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