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How to Update Your Home for Less and Sell for More

The Repairs That Matter


Here’s the Risky Predicament

According to a 2018 report by NerdWallet, homeowners in America spent $449,500,000,000 in home improvements and repairs between 2015 and 2017. But 32% of them (about 3 in 10 homeowners) felt that the money they spent on those repairs wasn’t worth it. And if we consider only the homeowners that were making repairs in an attempt to boost the value of their house before a sale, then this number of unsatisfied homeowners skyrockets.


Because these homeowners made some mistakes. The biggest mistake was spending large sums of money on repairs that didn’t actually raise the dollar value of the house. So after they listed their house for sale, when the offers started trickling in – they were shocked to see how low the numbers were.

Perhaps This Sounds Like You:

You want to sell your house, but there’s a catch . . .the house needs some repairs.

Now that you’re considering selling your home, you start considering things through the eyes of a potential buyer, and you start to notice all of those projects that went on to your to-do list, but never made their way off of it. Maybe you have minor repairs to address. Maybe you have major repairs to consider. Either way, you’re not certain which you should address and which you might be able to ignore.

You have limited funds for renovation and repairs and you want to do as little as necessary to get your house sold for top-dollar and in record time. More importantly, you don’t want to become one of those homeowners who spends countless hours and precious dollars before listing your house for sale . . . only to get short-changed in the end. 

So where should you spend those precious dollars?

The key is to pick the lowest-cost projects that will return the biggest increases in your sale price.


So What’s Most Important?

Before listing your home for sale, consider these repairs.

Functional Repairs (Preserve Value)

What’s more important than adding extra value to your property? Making sure it doesn’t lose value because the basics don’t function properly.

Take a second to think about the appliances that we use everyday and every week. Consider the things that we rely on to keep pushing through our busy lives. Make sure these work and make sure there are no hazards.

Here are the big-hitters to pay attention to:

  • Kitchen (fridge, oven, stove, dishwasher, sink, microwave, garbage disposal, drawer tracks)

  • Bathrooms (sinks, toilets, shower/tubs, fans, drawer tracks)

  • HVAC

  • Water Heaters

  • Electrical

  • Windows, doors, locks and latches

  • Roof

Making sure these items are in good working order will help you:

  1. Avoid getting dinged by the buyer’s inspector. Home inspectors are known for going into every gory detail about your house with potential buyers (scaring them half to death) and giving them cold feet. Avoiding negative marks here will pay off big time.

  2. Put the buyer at ease and reassure them that moving into your house would be an easy transition.

  3. Minimize the likelihood of having to haggle back and forth with a buyer on price.

Cosmetic Updates (Add Value)

Here’s where you can begin to add high-perceived value to your property. The key here is to choose updates with a low out-of-pocket cost that have high pay-off.

Here are the key areas you need to pay attention to:


New flooring can completely change the look, feel, and perceived value of your house. Now, compared to some other improvements, swapping out the floors in your house isn’t exactly cheap – but it does add significantly to the value of your home and ultimately the sales price. Nowadays, there’s a wide range of options from high-end to relatively low-cost. If your flooring is unattractive, strongly consider this update.


Nowadays, houses live and die by their kitchens. Buyers place a lot of weight on the kitchen when it comes to their decision to buy or not. Prioritize your kitchen and consider big bang-for-your-buck updates:

  1. Replace cabinet hardware

  2. Paint cabinets with modern-looking fresh paint

  3. Replace the countertops if you can find a good deal on materials and labor

  4. Change out the lighting (consider a modern overhead light fixture)

  5. Organize your kitchen


The runner-up to Kitchens? Bathrooms. The good news is you can easily add dollars to the sales price of your home with a few updates in each of your bathrooms.

Consider these:

  1. Change the plain towels for more elegant colorful towels

  2. Hang a nice pendant light

  3. Swap out a dull mirror for a nicer one

  4. Update your light fixtures


Fresh, neutral colors all over the house (especially paired with updated flooring) can have one of the biggest aesthetic impacts on potential buyers. The effect is subtle, but strong. Also consider painting your front door a bold color.

Fixtures and Faucets

Replacing your handles, locks, other fixtures and faucets around the house is by far one of the cheapest updates. The impact is big, and this update can be completed in a single afternoon.

Update Lighting

Swap out old dim bulbs for fresh ones. Replace harsh fluorescent-like lights with soft white bulbs. Consider updating overhead lighting fixtures with more modern replacements, if outdated.

Landscape Maintenance

When people think of landscaping, they often see big dollar signs. The truth is, as far as curb appeal goes, you can get a long way with some inexpensive maintenance and touch-ups. Make sure that nothing is overgrown and that everything is trimmed. Make sure lawn furniture is clean. Consider adding a few decorative potted plants (and maybe even inexpensive lighting) near the front entryway. Don’t take this one for granted. Your landscaping is the first thing a potential buyer sees and will set the tone for the rest of their experience in your home.


Cleaning and Staging (Showcase Value)

Now you’ve got all of the essentials in good working order and you’ve made updates to boost the value of your home. You’re feeling ready to start showing it to potential buyers. But before you do, remember this: All of this work will be for nothing if you don’t showcase it properly.

And this comes down to 2 factors:

  • Cleanliness

  • Staging

You need to make your house looks like a place that a buyer would want to live. They need to be able to picture themselves living happily in your home. And the surest way to sabotage this (and undercut all of your hard work and investment) is to show a dirty, messy, or otherwise unkempt house. Don’t fall into this trap. 

Instead, showcase the additional value you’ve created by paying close attention to these recommendations:

  1. Clear away all clutter. This means shoes, bags, etc.

  2. Hire a professional house cleaning service for a deep clean.

  3. Maintain cleanliness yourself, or with the same cleaning service group.

  4. Pay special attention to pet odors and markings. If you have carpet (and a pet), get your carpet professionally cleaned.

  5. Keep the outdoor areas tidy and patios swept.

If you know your house is going to be shown take a few measures to make it more inviting just prior to the showing:

  1. Turn on the porch light.

  2. Make sure the house is at a comfortable temperature.

  3. Turn on lamps and overhead lights throughout the house to make it feel warm and welcoming.

  4. Turn the living room television on at a low volume.

  5. And (if you’re confident in your ability to pick a candle with an inoffensive smell) light it just prior to leaving the house for the showing.

The idea here is to make the potential buyers feel like they’re at home. Humans make their purchase decisions first with emotion, then they rationalize it with logic. You want to do everything in your power to make both the emotional decision and the logical decision a no-brainer.


What You Need to Consider

Everyone’s situation is going to be somewhat different. Some of these recommendations will apply to your situation and others will not. Using your best judgement to determine which of these recommendations makes sense for you is essential.

No matter what, keep these lessons in mind:

  1. Don’t lose value on your home (and subject yourself to lowball offers) by overlooking the essentials. Mitigate this by making sure the functional basics are in good working order.

  1. Add value to your home by making the cosmetic updates appropriate for your home. Work within your budget and choose the lowest cost projects that will yield the biggest additions to your sales price.

  1. Make sure your house is clean and clutter free. Take the extra steps to make sure your home is warm and welcoming before a showing.

Do these three things, and your home will sell quicker and at a higher price.


Want to Skip The Repairs Altogether?

Now, if you’re like a lot of the folks we work with, you may not want to deal with the pain, headache, required time, and cost of repairs at all.

If you’d rather skip the pain and cost of repairs by selling your home as-is give us a call or text at 210-853-2446.

We buy all kinds of properties all over San Antonio. Nice houses. Ugly houses. Everything in between and houses in any condition.

Here are some of the homes we’ve bought:

We will never ask you to make repairs, and we’ll never charge you any commissions or fees. We will give you a cash offer on your home that you can count on, and you’ll have no obligation to accept it.

Wondering how other people feel about us? Check out what our past clients have to say.