For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate June 27, 2011

What's the Difference Between Home Maintenance and Upgrades When Selling Your Seattle-Eastside Home

Getting ready to sell your home?  You’ve contacted your agent who’s given you a laundry list of things to repair, replace or upgrade before your home goes on the market. Are the things your agent wants you to do maintenance items or upgrades?

If these items are completed, does it mean that you can get more for your home?  Probably not, but it means you won’t sell your home for less either.

Most people don’t think about having to do much before selling a home.  But on Seattle’s eastside, the buyers don’t buy if things aren’t done.  Buyers here think homes built in 1991 are old.  They’re looking for a fresh, new feel. My east coast friends have trouble understanding this because they often live in homes that are 50 years old or more, but here on the Seattle’s eastside it has become the normal expectation.

Many home sellers confuse needed maintenance with upgrades.   Some of what needs to be done before putting a home on the market falls in the category of maintenance and some falls under upgrades.  A lot of people confuse the two items. 

What’s maintenance and what’s a true upgrade?

Some of the basic maintenance items that everyone should do before putting a home on the market:

  • Bark and edge the planting beds
  • Get rid of weeds
  • clean windows
  • Clean the roof and gutters
  • Pressure wash the driveway, walks, decks, and patios
  • clean the carpets

The list below includes more maintenance items.  Many home owners think these are upgrades, but they’re not.  If any of the following needs to be done, it means a home needs these repairs.  It also means the home will sell for the true value it deserves, not for more, and not for less.  Buyers won’t buy a home that needs paint or a new deck.   The bank also gets involved in some of these issues. If a roof doesn’t have 5 years of life,  the bank won’t loan on the home.  If the deck is a safety hazard, again, it becomes an issue for the bank and the deck will need to be repaired in order to sell the home.

  • paint the interior or the exterior if needed
  • replace or repair the deck or patio
  • Repair or replace your roof

Upgrades that are considered part of maintenance because you’re replacing things that are older:

  • New light fixtures
  • New faucets
  • New appliances
  • New counter tops
  • New carpet

But even these upgrades won’t bring you more money than the value of your home.  It helps you get the true value you deserve for your home.

What’s a true upgrade that will net you more money?

  • Stainless Steel appliances, granite counters, new kitchen cabinets
  • Remodeled bathrooms
  • Expanded decks
  • New landscaping

If you hope to make more money for your home than its actual value, plan to do some remodeling.  It will cost you money, of course, but you’ll generate quite a bit of it back when you sell your home.  There needs to be some major updating and remodeling to net more than the actual value for your home.  Most of the things that you need to do a

The reality is most people have to spend some money to make any money when selling a home.  Some only need to spend $1500-$2000 to do the basic maintenance items.  Others have to spend more if they have tired, older looking fixtures or more cleanup work to do, but doing these items short of the major remodel will help to sell your home for the price it deserves, not for more money.  It will also help you to keep from selling your home for less than its truly worth.