HGTV Message Boards
Have Much Have You Spent to Prep and Sell a House

This topic can be found at:

Oct 11, 2012, 08:49 PM
Have Much Have You Spent to Prep and Sell a House
In the spirit of "Get it Sold," "Designed to Sell," Love It or List It, and "Buy and Sell".....

How much have you spent to prep your house for sale (before it was listed, as we see on some of these shows)

Obviously these shows are NOT real -- so I thought I'd ask real people. I'm not saying people may not switch out a light fixture or fix a faucet, or paint -- but personally, I don't know anyone who'd spend 20-40 thousand on major renos and the kinds of things we see on TV.
Oct 11, 2012, 11:27 PM
If DH and I were to put our house on the market it would take at least $15,000 - $20,000 to get our house ready. I am not worried about the light fixtures or the color of the bathroom faucets. Where we live we would be listing our house for about $500,000 or more.

Nothing fancy - we would have to paint inside and out. Before anyone says a little paint - we live in a 2 story raised beach cottage - not cheap or easy to paint. We would need to power wash and restain our decks. Then we would replace the carpet upstairs, paint inside, some exterior landscaping and resurface the pool. In the kitchen I would want to replace the sink and faucet. If the money were there I would replace/resurface the counters.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charming,

Fun and Info
Oct 11, 2012, 11:53 PM
Idaho Resident
clbselah, Interesting thread ~ thanks for posting it!

Think it is multi-faceted as well because it would depend on a number of factors: Is the mortgage vs. market value already upside-down? If so, I wouldn't spend one penny BUT I would clean, de-clutter and make the property sparkle in whatever shape it was in! Smile

Would you need to borrow the funds to make the improvements? If so, then once again, no. Highly unlikely to re-coup the costs of improvements when that cost is incurring interest every day.

But I understand that your question is hypothetical and resulting from the shows you cited, so I would say that, at the very most, I might spend $5K to "spiff" up the place if I was ever in the position of having to sell. I wouldn't be at all concerned with "trends" such as kitchen counters or light fixtures or trying to re-make my home into what "designers and stagers" say are the "must haves." Cool
Oct 12, 2012, 06:28 AM
IR is correct about the mortgage situation. In that case, make sure you are doing routine maintenance all along and clean, clean, clean!

Fun and Info
Oct 12, 2012, 12:40 PM
I have no plans to sell soon at all, and fortunately I'm blessed to be able to keep my house well-maintained. So cleaning and decluttering is it.

I think I'd set a limit of 1,000-1,500 before listing, to leave maybe another thousand for wiggle room/negotiators after the home inspection.

(I might switch out the powder room's gold faucet for a bronze one I bought years ago and have had stored away. Also, the dining room has one of those basic brass chandeliers, with the large ball in the center and candlelabra-like arms for small tear-shaped bulbs.

I need some blow-in insulation and will likely do that next year or the year after. But I'm doing that for ME.

I don't believe in remodeling a house do improve it for a seller if a person wouldn't do it for themselves. But that's them, not me. (Not only will the person not enjoy it, they won't get that money back most of the time.)

This message has been edited. Last edited by: clbselah,
Oct 12, 2012, 04:46 PM
I think we spent about $12K to get the house we sold ready. It included new carpet in the basement (was always in plan), painting, little fixes.... But, we had multiple offers and the house was just beautiful...... Our goal was to sell fast, and while houses were selling (in the $550-$650K range), it was a buyer's market...
Oct 12, 2012, 05:32 PM
If I'm doing it just to sell. I get the cheapest this that looks like it's not cheapSmile

I've learned from landlords, if it's not for ME, I go inexpensive.....cheapest carpet I can find that's appropriate for the need. As a matter of fact I ask my flooring guy is there anything he's looking to get rid of....I'll take it. (within reason)

I even got a good deal on a floor I liked for me that way. He had too much of some tile, or just a couple of boxes left -- that's all I needed for a powder room and laundry room...I liked it. So we had a deal!

IF you're replacing appliances so for stuff with scratches on the side. No one will see.
For faucets and other fixtures go clearance or floor model.
Paint....see what returns you can find...wrong color? Buy a few gallons of white to mix in and lighten it up...turns a dark purple or blue into a light enough lavender/pastel blue for a bathroom or nursery.....turns a dark brown into a neutral ecru/light toast color.
Oct 12, 2012, 05:37 PM
Since we moved in this house, we have done extensive renovations, so must of everything is fairly new. (6 years now) therefore, painting the inside would be enough, no need to do floors they are tiled. I would probably change the lightihng in the dining room to a more modern one,
and I believe that I need to change the blinds in the bedrooms, which I think I am going to takle next year. I keep on upgrading always with the mind that eventually I will sell, so I try to keep it up.
But to spend tons of money on renovations not unless my homes was valued over 500,000 and wanted to get that kind of money.
Besides we all know that you don't get back whatever updgrades you do, is a matter of presentation, So, get your home in the best condition possible. YOu could always spend it in the new house.
Oct 22, 2012, 02:12 PM
As I was prepping my house for listing last year, I spent about $15,000 on carpeting, new kitchen floor, painting, landscaping, etc. It worked because I was under contract in less than a month in a very bad market. Coincidentally (?), I sold the house for $15,000 above appraisal.
Oct 27, 2012, 12:10 PM
A couple hundred for neutral paint, bedding, towels, etc. And lots of boxes to pack my extra stuff in BEFORE I called the realtor!
Oct 28, 2012, 07:56 AM
If I did put in large ** to prep my house for sale, if the house doesn't sell, at least I'll have done all the work and can enjoy my labors. What I'm trying to say is, don't go too cheap - you may have to live with the cheap stuff if your house doesn't sell.
Oct 28, 2012, 01:26 PM
don't go too cheap - you may have to live with the cheap stuff if your house doesn't sell.

Oh, I would still pick fixtures and finishes I liked....just at a cheaper price point. For example, let's say I was switching out and updating the bathroom towel rod, paper holder rings etc.... I know the light oak bath accessories kits are cheaper. You can get them at big box stores, discounters, etc...BUT cheaper or not, I wouldn't get those because I don't LIKE those. I WOULD get the least expensive finish that I liked. If you've priced towel bars, paper rings, robe hooks, and bath trash cans you know -- they can get ridiculously pricey. My mind set is if I wouldn't spend that money for ME -- I sure as heck am not going to spend more than need be for someone else to enjoy.

For me, once I make the decision to sell, I am the kind of seller who's mindset totally changes. In my thinking I'm already just temporarily in the house until it's sold.

In my case, being single with no kids... my carpet won't have enough wear and tear or stains to need to be changed, my walls won't have hand prints or marks to need to be re-done. I have some rooms I hardly ever even go into how how little wear and tear my house gets.

IF my case were different though and stuff like that needed to be done to stage and prepare the house...I'd get new carpet, just the cheapest that I liked, or I'd get Ooops paint to paint. IF you're prepping to sell for example:

-- I see no need at all to buy higher priced Benjamin Moore paint -- when returned Oops paint will do.
-- If retiling a powder room, why pick tile that's 2.50 a square foot -- when big box stores have tile that's on sale for 60 cents a tile all the time that looks just fine and comes in very nice options.

I know not everyone can keep EVERY aspect, feature and finish of their house totally updated. I just hope people know they don't HAVE TO. The kinds of complete major renos we see on Designed to Sell or Love it or list it make no sense at all if you're doing it just to sell. I know that's TV, but there are people who say they've done that very kind of thing, so obviously some people ARE doing that. But, it's their money......

This message has been edited. Last edited by: clbselah,
Oct 28, 2012, 09:19 PM
real estate lady
I buy "oops " paint all the time. $20-30 bucks for 5 gal. They will tint it for free at most of the brand name paint stores...but not big box stores.
Oct 29, 2012, 08:53 AM
I think the pros on here can't say often enough - it all depends on your personal situation what you should spend, if anything, to prepare your home for market.

If you have maintained the basics and don't expect a huge profit then clean clean clean. If it's broken, fix it. Otherwise don't sink a lot of money into it. This is if your home is in the medium to low range for your area.

If your home is in the upper to higher price range for your market and it is dated - then you will need to spend some money if you want a quick sale. You might find yourself chasing the market down if you don't.

Fun and Info
Oct 29, 2012, 01:10 PM
UNfortunately spending money just to sell doesn't usually get you all THAT money back. It may get you a quicker sale, but the dollar for dollar ROI for that improvement means you lost money just on that aspect.

Unless of course the house improvements and timing make it appealing enough for multiple offers, THEN those offers may bid the price up to get the money back and more!Smile
Oct 29, 2012, 04:20 PM
It can be a vicious circle. If your house needs work - carpet is trashed and you know it will cost $2,000 to replace and make it look great. You can do several things-
1. Price your house accordingly knowing buyers will have to immediately replace carpet;
2. Price your house slightly lower and offer a $1,000 decorating expense;
3. Price your house as if the carpet is great;
4. Replace the carpet and price your house accordingly.

What will happen scenario 1? If and when you get an offer most will discount again for having to replace the carpet although you have already discounted. This is after a number of potential buyers looked and left.
Scenario 2? Any potential buyers will still discount again and still expect the decorating allowance which they will claim is not enough;
Scenario 3? All offers will probably be slow in coming and probably discounted twice what it would cost to replace.
Scenario 4? House looks great and should generate an offer closer to the list price and more quickly.

Is this guranteed? No, this is real estate, nothing is guaranteed. But it is how buyers see property.

Fun and Info
Oct 30, 2012, 01:18 AM
Oh. Charming I so agree with point is if you upgrade do it absolutely as INexpensively as possible. No need for carpet at 8.00 a sq. yard...when 4.00 will do. (And what we see on TV is spending waaay more money than need be)
Oct 30, 2012, 10:34 AM
Agree, clb. If nothing else, hopefully a faster sale saves a couple of months carrying costs to cover the cost of minor, inexpensive repairs and improvements.
Nov 11, 2012, 04:24 PM
Our house is 96 years old. It's extermely well maintained. Our kitchen "fits" our old house. It has metal cabinets, formica counter tops and matching formica floor. We have retro-looking applicances and all work well. But potential buyers see this as an "old" kitchen that needs "upgrading". Is there anything we can do to make it more "contemporary" without spending a fortune???
Nov 15, 2012, 09:50 PM
You say the house is old...OK that's fine.

However, there's a big difference between the kitchen BEING old.... and a NEW retro kitchen designed to look vintage.

How old are the floor, cabinets, countertop and appliances?
How much is your budget?
Nov 16, 2012, 12:33 AM
It also depends, 1916, on your timeframe to sell the home. Some would call it vintage and believe you can wait for that one, special buyer who'll appreciate it. In my experience, that may take months and/or years.

If it's old instead of vintage, a few simple, inexpensive updates would probably significantly reduce the total marketing time. Thought of a few things reading your post but could use a visual.

Any chance you can return and post several photos? Might be a good idea to start a new thread - probably in either the kitchen reno or decorating sections. If you do that, I'm sure you'll receive many helpful responses/suggestions.

In any event, best of luck to you - it's JMHO.
Nov 16, 2012, 02:50 PM
real estate lady
Careful when updating historic or older homes.
Sometimes updates will throw the character out the window.
Dec 01, 2012, 12:17 PM
I've sold three properties in the last five years. Now let me say we had made some improvements to the homes that we wanted made, they did help to sell as the case may have been. My general rule of thumb to sell to someone else is spend no more than a thousand dollars for a regular family home. This might include carpets, paint, light fixtures, modern wall hangings and curtains. Our most updated property took 50.00 between paint and curtains in one room. The houses are big however and need that neutral modern look to sell for the price being asked. In our current neighborhood where we sold one home, we were lucky and did not have to repaint the very specific bedrooms, in our neighborhood that doesn't take away a sale... I have a home I need to sell (estate) starting in the Spring, I plan to spend my routine thousand dollars to get that one ready as well.... We'll see if my typical routine works to sell it quickly. That home needs major cleaning out before it can be sold so we need to get moving on that, it may also slightly exceed the thousand dollars since it needs living room furniture which I plan to purchase used or on clearance.
Aug 28, 2013, 02:57 PM
I have never spent a penny because if you do you will lose money! Unless your house is falling apart at the seams you should never refurb it. People don't pay anymore at least that's what I have found unless it is a rennovation.

B&B in Brighton