What to Repair or Replace When Getting Your Home Ready to Sell.

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices


Getting ready to sell your Salt Lake City bungalow, Sandy tudor, Draper home, Holladay mansion, Park City estate, Herriman ranch or the like?  The following tips will help guide you in the necessary repairs that will allow for the maximum sales price.

Luxury estate in the Cottonwoods of SLC

(French Country Cottage in the Cottonwoods)

Quick fixes, such as burned out light bulbs, clean windows, inside and outside of doors wiped down and decluttered, before selling a home always pay off, but which repairs bring the biggest return? Specific answers to this often-asked question largely depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • Time of year
  • Location of the home
  • Market temperature
  • Competing inventory

Although there isn't a hard and fast rule, there are general guidelines that apply to most homes. For example, the National Association of Realtors publishes each year the Cost vs. Value Report with Remodeling Magazine, which features various home project costs and returns in four regions, including a national average.

Flooring Fixes

Wood floors are a hot item today, but preferences over the years have changed.

  • Hardwood Floors
    If your home has hardwood floors, that's what buyers want, and it would pay to have the carpeting removed and the floors refinished.
  • Carpeting
    If your sub-floor is plywood, then replace the carpeting with neutral color, such as light tan. Ask your real estate or staging professional for suggestions on the current trends.


  • Ceramic
    Replace chipped or cracked tiles. Clean or replace the grout.


Paint Ceilings & Walls

Paint will make or break a sale.  Choosing the right paint colors is imperative.  Don't be afraid to ask a professional for suggestions.  Neutral colors will always be a safe bet.  Don't forget about the ceiling... Buyers spend more time than you would think staring at ceilings. They are looking for signs of a leaky roof, but what you don't want them to see are stains from grease or smoke and ceiling cracks. Ditto for walls. Nothing says freshness like new paint, and it's the most cost effective improvement. 


  • Wallpaper
    It's not that all buyers hate wallpaper. They hate your wallpaper - because it's your personal choice, not theirs. And they hate all dated wallpaper. Get rid of it. The easiest way is to steam it off by using an inexpensive wallpaper remover steamer.


  • Wood paneling
    Even if your wood paneling is not real wood but composite, you can paint it. Dated paneling must go. Older wood paneling such as walnut, mahogany, cedar and pine, it's all gone out of style. Paint it a neutral and soft color after priming it.


  • Textured ceilings
    Older popcorn ceilings with the "sparkles" often contain asbestos and if disturbed are health hazards. Say goodbye to it. But even recently sprayed ceilings turn off buyers. It's not expensive but it is time consuming to remove. Lay down drop cloths and scrape it off. You will need to repaint.

Kitchen Improvements

(Cottonwood Heights luxury home)

Appliances and cabinets are typically the most expensive items to replace in a kitchen. If you don't have to replace them, you'll save a ton of money. However, if your cabinets are dated and beat-up, your house might not sell if the cabinets aren't replaced.

Kitchen remodels return nearly 100%. According to Remodeling Magazine, the high-end kitchens don't return as much as the mid-range or minor kitchen remodels. Most buyers won't pay extra for a built-in Sub Zero refrigerator, professional 8-burner stove, undermount sink or travertine floors, unless they're looking at Utah luxury estates where these items come standard.

  • Cabinets
    Resurfacing is your best option. This involves attaching a thin veneer to the surface of the cabinets and replacing the doors and hardware . If your cabinets are painted, add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Glazing is a hot trend in Utah.  This gives the cabinets a bit of the popular "distressed" look.


  • Counter tops, sinks & faucets
    Granite counters are not necessary, but are certainly appreciated by most buyers. Although, there are some great new simple laminates on the market that work wonderfully as well.  Newer faucets and sparkling sinks sell. Buyers don't want leaky faucets or stained sinks.


luxury estate in Holladay(Fabulous remodel in heart of Holladay, Utah)

The national average of recouped cost is more than 100% for bathrooms. New floors, fixtures and lights payoff.

Roofs & Exterior

If your home needs a new roof, bite the bullet and do it. Even though most roofing tear-off jobs take one to two days, buyers shy away from buying a home if the roof needs to be replaced.


  • Patch cement cracks in sidewalks
  • Resurface asphalt driveways, if necessary
  • Plant flowers and make certain pots adorn the entry with fresh colors (depends on the time of year in Utah)
  • Caulk windows and doors
  • Replace old doorknobs and locks
  • Fix or paint fences

Cottonwood contemporary estate in Utah

(Cottonwood Luxury Estate)


Overall, buyers want to buy a home that has no deferred maintenance, newer appliances, updated plumbing, electrical and heating (including a/c), modern conveniences and is ready to occupy.

Linda Secrist - Linda Secrist & Associates - Whatever They Touch Turns To Sold






Comments (3)

Richard Ruggaber
Metro Life Homes - Los Angeles, CA
California Real Estate - (818) 422-5035

What an excellent post! Thank you for sharing this post.

Feb 02, 2011 11:43 AM
Sean Untamo
Keller Williams Real Estate - Clinton, NJ
Realtor® / Licensed in NJ & PA

Great tips, most are easy fixes too and will definitely make a BIG difference!

Feb 02, 2011 11:55 AM
Linda Secrist
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Holladay, UT

Thank you Richard and Sean.  Sean, you're right... most are easy fixes and will be the key to drawing the best sales price.  Thanks for reading my blog. 

Feb 02, 2011 06:14 PM