Five Fixes for Top-Dollar Sales


Updated flooring throughout the main floor can help you get top dollar when you sell.
Source: Pixabay contributor Midascode

Every week – and some weeks, every day – I get questions from homeowners about what remodeling they should do and what fixes they should make to their homes to get top dollar when they sell. Here’s my advice, based on more than a decade of experience in metro Denver-area real estate.

  • Flooring – Carpet is out, at least on the main floor. In a survey published in 2016, the National Association of Home Builders found that 82% of homebuyers consider hardwood flooring on the main floor to be “essential” or “desirable.” Buyers are looking for modern, easy-care floors that can withstand kids and pets (not to mention ease their allergies). Replace it with hardwood if your budget allows. If that’s beyond your reach, there are some excellent laminates out there that are hard to tell from the real thing. Ceramic tile is another option that can be affordable; if you go this route, be sure to choose a contemporary look (neutral tones; matte finishes; wood-look; oversized; or some combination).
  • Fixtures and hardware – These are two areas that can really make a home look outdated if not addressed. No homebuyer wants the shiny brass look of the 1980s, and few even want shiny chrome finishes on light fixtures, drawer handles, doorknobs, or bath hardware (although you’ll still find some holdovers in your local big-box hardware store). Contemporary finishes are less shiny and more subtle or rich-looking, such as brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze finishes. See this article from Architizer showing the top kitchen and bath trends from the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.
  • Bathrooms – Aside from the kitchen, bathrooms are make-it-or-break-it areas with buyers. Complete bathroom remodels from the studs out aren’t always necessary, but it is possible to recoup a significant portion of your investment if you choose this option. And if the current bathroom’s design and layout is truly unworkable, a complete remodel may be needed in order to make a sale. To update elements in an otherwise well-functioning bathroom, consider re-tiling and re-grouting with more up-to-date materials and colors. Cabinets can gain new life from a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. You’ll generally want to steer clear of wallpaper. In larger bathrooms, wallpaper can be overwhelming and may not do well with the attendant heat and humidity. In powder baths, however, where heat and humidity are not an issue and where a designer touch can have great impact, wallpaper can be a striking element. Here are some fantastic examples curated by the folks at Traditional Home magazine.
  • Kitchen – The kitchen is, hands down, the single most important room in a house when it comes to making a sale. Just as with bathrooms, a full remodel may be necessary if the current layout is unworkable and becomes an obstacle to a sale. Otherwise, it may not be necessary to spend a lot to make it look and function better. Light fixtures, faucets, and cabinet hardware may need to be addressed (the same is true for bathrooms). Beyond those fixes, appliances are likely candidates for updates, along with countertops, backsplashes, and paint. As HGTV says, “Kitchen backsplashes no longer simply protect walls from spills and splatters, a wide array of eye-catching materials like glass, wood, metals and stone make the backsplash the focal point of today’s kitchens.” See more than 30 of the trendiest examples here
  • Income (or in-law) suite – Depending on municipal and/or homeowners’ association regulations, sellers may be able to increase the value of their home and its attractiveness to buyers by finishing out space that can either be rented or used as living space by adult children or aging parents. This may require finishing or reconfiguring basement or attic spaces. Finishing can involve changes to the internal or external structure, HVAC, plumbing, windows/doors/egress, and more, along with considerations such as flooring, paint, lighting, fixtures, etc. If you’ll be designing a space for use by aging parents, you’ll want to consider incorporating the principles of universal design. Universal design helps ensure the space accommodates a wide range of preferences and abilities/mobility., a site created by a man who is completely paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe, offers a wealth of information and linked resources.


My insider’s tip is this: to see what’s hot, what’s on-trend, and – most important – what’s *selling*, visit model home communities. The paint can often be overdone in these, so don’t necessarily focus on that. However, you’ll learn a lot from observing the builders’ choices in flooring, fixtures, hardware, appliances, lighting, and kitchen and bathroom design.

Have you made fixes and updates before listing
your Denver metro-area home for sale?
Which ones brought you the best return?
Which ones do you wish you’d skipped?
Post a comment on this article so others can benefit from your experience.

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