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6 Home Upgrades To Get a Better Price for Your House in 2023

EpicStockMedia / Getty Images/iStockphoto
EpicStockMedia / Getty Images/iStockphoto

When gearing up to sell your home, it isn't always easy to put yourself in the shoes of prospective buyers and see your space through their eyes. The projects you've been eyeing over the years might not matter to someone else, so pouring your money and efforts into the wrong ones could be a waste.

"If you're making an update for you or your family for the long term, great, do it. Enjoy it," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "If you're thinking only about resale, you want to be a lot more strategic."

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Zillow reports that a majority of homeowners take on at least two home improvement projects before selling. Anything you tackle should be carefully selected in order to get the most return on your investment, meaning how much more that upgrade could boost your listing price and offers.


Pendleton's rule of thumb is that your improvements should make your home cleaner, safer and more functional. And often, they don't have to be expensive. Data from Thumbtack shows that an investment of around $5,400 in projects like painting, carpet cleaning and landscaping could yield more than $8,000 in returns in a market like Seattle.

Jennifer Patchen, a broker with Opendoor, says the most important thing to consider in deciding which upgrades will count is making sure your home meets the standards of the neighborhood and surrounding properties. "Having the only home on the market without a renovated kitchen will hurt your chances of getting the best offers," Patchen said.

Other possible upgrades depend heavily on your locale as well -- such as adding a pool. "In a city like Austin where temperatures soar during the summer months, it can increase the value by up to 6% on a $350-$450K home," Patchen said.

As a starting point, Opendoor's home improvement value calculator can help homeowners get an idea of what a project might cost and how much return on investment it may bring in their area (though keep in mind it's based on pre-inflation 2019 data). "As a next step, look at other homes in your neighborhood that have recently sold or are newly listed to get an idea of the types of upgrades that have been made. When you're ready to move forward, get at least 2-3 contractor bids, and visit supply stores to get a better idea of material and labor costs," Patchen said.

Your other best resource, Pendleton says, is your real estate agent. "A great local agent is going to be an expert in your neighborhood. They're going to know what a buyer in your neighborhood is looking for," she said. "Make sure you're hiring the best you can find. They'll be a great resource for you as you have to decide what projects to take on."

Here are some of the top upgrades experts recommend before listing your house.

Halfpoint /
Halfpoint /


If there's one thing everyone should do, says Seattle realtor Danny Adamson, it's paint. "The person who thinks they can get away with no paint is a fool. Whether it's interior, exterior, or touch-ups, everyone needs some kind of paint."

Before listing a house, Adamson consults with a design pro who looks at the home in the context of its street and neighborhood to determine what would help the house shine. If exterior paint is in order, he likes to stick with neutral colors like white, gray or even black, with a fun pop of color on the front door.

"Sometimes a pink door or a robin's egg blue can look really nice," he said.

As for interiors, a study by Zillow showed that white kitchens, light blue bathrooms, and dark blue bedrooms all influenced potential buyers to offer more on a home. According to their survey, participants who viewed a light blue bathroom said they would be willing to offer 1.6% more on that property -- a nearly $5,000 increase on a $290,000 home, on average.

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slobo / Getty Images/iStockphoto
slobo / Getty Images/iStockphoto


Adamson points out that a buyer's decision to make an offer on your house is already 50% made when they pull up. "Then when they're in your house, in the first 15 seconds they pretty much know whether they're going to buy it or not," he said. That's why his first area of focus is cosmetic upgrades like paint and flooring.

If you have hardwood floors, Adamson says the condition they're in makes a strong impression, so refinishing them is well worth it. "Right when you walk in, if the hardwoods are beautiful and gleaming, how that looks and feels and even smells, versus scratched up and damaged, is huge," he said.

Similarly, old carpeting should be at a minimum cleaned and possibly replaced. In a recent Opendoor survey, old carpet was the number two design turnoff (behind outdated bathrooms) among homebuyers. Patchen suggests converting older flooring in primary living areas (kitchen, living room and dining room) to hardwood or luxury vinyl plank (LVP). "LVP is becoming increasingly popular because it's waterproof, doesn't scratch from pet nails, and requires less upkeep than hardwood," she said.

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KenWiedemann / Getty Images/iStockphoto
KenWiedemann / Getty Images/iStockphoto


Refreshing the landscaping is key to boosting a home's curb appeal. Along with painting and carpet cleaning, Pendleton says, "it really delivers a powerful signal to a homebuyer that the home is up to date and well-maintained."

Adamson says that doesn't mean dropping a ton of money on new plants and features. "It's almost like less is more here," he said. "You make it look clean. Mow and edge and pressure wash all the concrete surfaces. Lay down fresh mulch in the beds, but you're not planting flowers and bushes."

chandlerphoto / Getty Images
chandlerphoto / Getty Images

Outdoor Spaces

In terms of functionality, making your outdoor spaces more usable and versatile throughout different times of the day and year can be very appealing. Pendleton suggests creating a space for dining or entertaining, or even simpler touches like a fire pit or deck or path lighting.

"Things like that can showcase how your property is functional to its next owner and are going to be key to boosting your sale price," she said.

Patchen notes that while lumber shortages during the pandemic caused prices to double, prices have since come down, improving your current returns for adding or remodeling a deck. Eco-friendly outdoor features can also help your home stand out, with solar-powered lights and native or drought-resistant landscaping among popular choices.

Kosamtu / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Kosamtu / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Kitchen Facelift

When it comes to upgrades, knowing how far to go with improvements and when to put the breaks on is key. A full kitchen remodel is among the more overrated upgrades, with fewer than 1 in 5 recent sellers surveyed saying a kitchen renovation helped their home sell -- and can easily cost $10K or more.

Instead, Adamson and other experts advise just focusing on the cabinets and countertops, applying a fresh paint color, swapping out old countertops for inexpensive quartz, and adding a classic subway tile backsplash. "We can make a kitchen look almost as good as new for about $5,000," he said.

Updated light fixtures can also go a long way toward literally seeing a space in a different light. Opendoor recommends swapping out lower-quality flush mounts and outdated pendants for more design-forward options.

fstop123 /
fstop123 /


Adamson advises clients to get a seller inspection in order to make sure you're presenting a house that's safe to buyers. "Providing the inspection as a seller essentially gives you a list of the things you should be working on," he said.

Make sure you take care of issues like broken windows, pests and mold or rot that are automatic red flags to buyers, plus simple handyman fixes like leaky faucets. "Buyers are going to get that inspection report, and if they see that you've done nothing and you don't care, that reflects on how well your house appeals," Adamson said.

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This article originally appeared on 6 Home Upgrades To Get a Better Price for Your House in 2023