How much should you invest in improvements when selling a Pioneer Valley home? Reply

Whenever I speak to a Pioneer Valley home seller, I am usually asked what they can do to improve the value of their home, and subsequently, the list price.  While many improvements may add value, home sellers need to consider how much value will be added relative to the amount invested in the improvement.  Once a home seller performs this calculation, it is likely that they will find it more cost-effective to simply go after the low-hanging fruit.

Although major renovations to kitchens and bathrooms should be prioritized when deciding which rooms to improve, it is unlikely that you will recoup the entire cost of the project when you sell.  According to Remodeling Magazine, a trade magazine that offers regional cost vs. value data for most remodeling projects, a major kitchen remodel that could cost as much $55,000 could only add about $30,000 worth of value.  So a home seller may only recoup about 55% of the project’s cost.  Similarly, a bathroom remodel could cost about $16,300, but only add about $9,500 in value.

Of course, this is not to say that a home seller shouldn’t do things like replacing a roof regardless of the percentage of the cost being recouped.   A roof is one of the first things that a potential buyer sees and if your asphalt fiberglass roof is cupping and cracking, it is likely to turn them off.  A non-compliant septic system is also something that should be taken care of.  This is because banks will not write a mortgage on a house with a septic system not in compliance.  That is not to say that these properties don’t sell, but you are drastically reducing the number of potential buyers for your home as it is likely that only a cash buyer will be able to make the investment.

There are many things that home sellers can do to make their home more marketable that won’t cost too much, however.  I usually advise sellers to go after the low-fruit to spruce up the place. These are improvements that are not cost-prohibitive.  These are the types of improvements that don’t necessarily add value, but make a home more appealing to Pioneer Valley home buyers.  These types of improvements include things like replacing dated light fixtures, painting tired interior walls and removing old wallpaper, refinishing hardwood floors, and servicing the furnace or boiler.

I can’t tell you how many times that I have been told by a home buyer that they were turned off by “popcorn ceilings”.  Ask your local hardware store for a solution that will soften it so that you can simply scrape the popcorn off.

Energy efficiency is important to today’s home buyer.  They are more environmentally conscious and they also want to take advantage of reduced utility bills.  So it is also a good idea to take advantage of’s free energy audits. In addition to finding out what you can do to make your home more energy efficient, you also save 75% on insulation improvements up to $2,000.

There are also things that a home seller can do to spruce up the yard.  If your yard consists of plantings in beds of bark mulch, trim the bushes and add a fresh coat of bark mulch.  Keep the yard mowed, as well.  If you home has decorative lighting, get a picture of your home at night and give it to your Pioneer Valley REALTOR® for use in the marketing of your home.

To get the most for your home, it is better to make low cost improvements rather than large renovations for a quicker sale and to maximize the amount of money you walk away with.  Major renovations may add value, but it will likely reduce your bottom line when you sell because the cost of the improvement will likely be more than what you can expect to get back when you sell.  It’s important to do the math and see if the improvement is worth your while.

If you are planning on buying or selling a home in the Pioneer Valley, make your first call to Michael Seward at 413-531-7129 or email  Michael Seward has been representing home buyers and home sellers in the Pioneer Valley since 2003.


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