Home Improvements Before You Sell

Home improvements

One question I commonly get asked is, “What type of projects or improvements should I make before I place my home on the market for sale?” The prospect of updating and prepping your home for sale can seem daunting. The option of putting some money and time into a few repairs may seem like a lot of hassle. However, it can translate into serious money when you sell. 

Here’s what I’ve seen in the Lakes Region over the years that seem to make the most sense:

Clean the home's exterior

Clean the Exterior

The first step in preparing a home for sale is thoroughly cleaning the exterior. This includes cleaning the windows, siding, gutters, and roof. Dirty or dingy exteriors can be a turn-off for potential buyers and can make the home appear older than it actually is. A pressure washer can be used to clean the siding and gutters, while the roof can be cleaned using a hose with a biodegradable cleaning solution and possibly bleach to get rid of overgrown algae and mildew. The windows should be washed inside and out, and the screens should be cleaned or replaced if necessary.

Landscape the Yard

A well-manicured yard can be a major selling point for potential buyers. Homeowners should focus on pruning trees and shrubs, removing dead plants, and planting new flowers and shrubs to add color and dimension to the yard. Adding Fresh mulch or rocks to garden beds can also make the yard look neat and well-maintained. Homeowners should also ensure that the lawn is regularly mowed, kept free of weeds, and fertilized to provide a lush green appearance.

Landscape your home
Paint home

Repair and Paint the Exterior

If the home’s exterior needs repair or has chipped or peeling paint, addressing these issues before putting the home on the market is essential. Buyers are likely to be deterred by a home that looks like it requires a lot of work. Homeowners can hire a contractor or handyman to repair any damaged siding, fix loose shingles, or replace broken windows. A fresh coat of paint can also go a long way in improving the home’s appearance and making it more appealing to potential buyers. Also, keep in mind the front door is the first thing potential buyers will see. Possibly repaint, stain, or varnish it or consider adding new hardware.

Clean the Deck and Patio

If the home has a deck or patio, cleaning it thoroughly before showing the property to potential buyers is important. Outdoor living spaces, especially in the Lakes Region, can be a major selling point for buyers, so making them look as attractive as possible is essential. Homeowners should power wash the deck or patio with a cleaning solution or light bleach to remove any dirt or stains and then sweep it clean. If the deck or patio needs repair, homeowners should consider repairing any issues before putting the home on the market.

Pressure wash deck
Clean Garage

Clean the Garage

The garage is often an overlooked aspect of outdoor maintenance, but it can be a major selling point for buyers. Homeowners should take the time to clean out the garage, organize any clutter, and dispose of any items that are no longer needed. A clean, organized garage can help buyers envision how they will use the space and can make the home more attractive overall. I’ve gone into homes in the Lakes region where you couldn’t see the forest through the trees in their garage, a definite turn-off.

Interior Painting

I would say painting is probably the most cost-effective improvement with the highest rate of return. Look for “safe” colors and consider getting a recommendation from your local paint store or a trained professional.

Paint home interior
deep clean home

Do a Deep Clean

Do it right means dusting, vacuuming, steam cleaning floors and tile, applying wood polish on woodwork, clean ceiling fan blades, picture frames, and appliances. Pay special attention to bathrooms and kitchens. Rust on baseboard heating should be painted and mold and dark stains on grout and showers must be removed.

Room by Room Decluttering

This is probably the most important and cost-effective project to take on. Every buyer loves going into new model homes because they are perfectly staged. Clear off countertops, clean up extra pictures and decorations, and thin out some furniture to make rooms appear larger. Tons of collectibles, photos of every relative, dark, drab draperies, exercise equipment, and excess stuff should be put away.

decluttered kitchen in home
modern lighting in home

Improve Lighting Fixtures

A simple update for a small investment. Look at options for old chandeliers, track lighting, pendant lighting, and ceiling fixtures. Keep colors consistent with your home’s hardware colors. Older brass fixtures can look dated. Try keeping the tone of lightbulbs consistent throughout the home. Soft neutral is the best choice.

Kitchen and Bathroom Updates

Small updates like replacing hardware, repainting cabinets, upgrading faucets, and polishing cabinetry with a restorer are simple fixes. A new backsplash is a smart way to update a dated kitchen. Maybe some accent wainscoting or a granite countertop in the kitchen or bath could add value and personality.

updated bathroom in home
Carpet removal in home


If steam cleaning won’t suffice, consider getting rid of worn and stained carpet and replacing it with a neutral color.

In summary, you can find lots of ways to increase your home’s value when you’re getting ready to sell. Consider home improvements that will not only get you a better price but also recoup enough of the money you put into them. If you make the improvements early in your homeownership, you can enjoy them yourself.

This article was written by Frank Roche. Frank is president of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market.

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