Ask a Mainstreet REALTOR® - What Home Improvement Projects Should I Complete Before I Sell My Home


Q: I’m getting ready to sell my home and I need to know what renovations will actually pay off. What home improvement projects should I complete before I sell my home? And which ones should I avoid? 

A: There are two categories of improvements you should plan for: small improvements and larger renovations. 

Small improvements are all the nagging, easy projects you’ve never quite gotten to before. Maybe you have a light fixture that’s never quite fit with the room or a doorknob that’s pulling away from the door. These may seem like minor problems, but buyers will notice them and start to wonder what else is off. 

Some of these problems may be so small that you no longer notice them on a daily basis. Walk through the property with your REALTOR® before you start making improvements. They’ll be able to view your home with the eyes of a buyer and can help you identify the most pressing projects. These small fixes are cost-effective ways to present your property in the best light. 

Renovations are a much bigger upfront investment, but if you choose the projects carefully you’re likely to make that money back in the sale. In some cases, renovations will be necessary to sell your home. 

The simplest project in this category is a fresh coat of paint. No matter what, even if you’ve painted recently, you might consider repainting your home before you put it on the market. Talk to your REALTOR® about the colors and types of paint that will help potential buyers visualize themselves in your home. 

Replacing the roof will potentially also pay off in the sale. Sellers tend to make back just under 110% of what they spend on replacing the roof. And, if you don’t fix existing roofing issues, you’ll likely be asked to provide a credit for the buyer. That credit will almost certainly cost you more than the price of the roof replacement. 

Bathroom and kitchen renovations are very popular, but you’ll want to talk to a Mainstreet REALTOR® with expertise in your local market before you commit to remodeling either room. For example, an updated kitchen is crucial to sell a home in the city of Chicago, but not as necessary in some Northern Illinois suburbs. If you do determine these renovations are necessary, your REALTOR® will also be able to connect you to trusted designers and builders for the project. 

Across the board, you need to avoid over-improving your property. Ultimately, you need to sell your home at a price point your local market can bear. That’s something to think about as you make decisions about the details of your renovations. You’ll want to choose appliances and finishes that make your home appealing but don’t put it out of reach of the buyers you’re likely to attract.

Do you have a real estate question you’d like answered in our Ask a Mainstreet REALTOR® blog feature? Email Amy Robey at with your question.