What updates help sell your home?

What updates help sell your home?

If it’s a seller’s market, you may be thinking that you can just put a sign in your yard and you’re good to go. While it might be true your home will sell, it won’t sell for as much money, or get as many competing offers, as it would if it were in top shape. Even a small investment can make a big difference. So, what updates help sell your home?

We’ve been selling in this market for over 30 years, and have a firm grasp of what it is that potential buyers respond to in a house. Keep in mind, any upgrade you do should be in line with the value of your home and what the other houses in your neighborhood look like. If you live in a neighborhood with $1M homes and you haven’t updated in many years, you may have to invest more. But if you live in a neighborhood where everyone has laminate countertops, you can spend your money on smaller upgrades. 

Before getting to the updates that help sell your home, we should be clear that if there are any major structural or mechanical issues with your home, those should be the first order of business. Anything that you’re aware of that will come up in an inspection, say leaky roof, is in your best interest to fix before you put it on the market. OK, on to the updates that make a difference!


You don’t need to splash out on a new kitchen to appease buyers. In fact, we advise against it as you likely won’t get all your money back. But there are plenty of kitchen upgrades that will make a difference to buyers, like nice appliances (stainless steel is always a safe choice), and updated finishes in neutral colors. Quartz countertops are favored these days, and neutral backsplashes, like subway tile which is timeless, appeal to the majority of buyers.

Another place to put your money in the kitchen is new flooring. We’ve also seen a difference when sellers paint outdated cabinets (we’re talking to you oak!) and update the hardware, too.

Look at the difference new counters, backsplash and paint can make.
New counters, backsplash, and paint make a big difference.


This is no small feat, but if you don’t have a second full bathroom and there is a possibility of adding one, you’ll get your money back. And while you don’t need to spend a lot on gorgeous finishes, going beyond the big box store off the shelf options will help. You can accomplish a high-end look with small things like an upgraded faucet and towel bar.

If a remodel is out of the question, again you can focus on smaller things like updating the lighting, hardware and at the very least re-grouting which will brighten the space. Even a bright white shower curtain can make a difference. 

A bathroom before and after minor updates


Replacing lighting is an easy fix in any room. New, modern pendants above your kitchen island, an updated bathroom vanity light, and at the very least, swap out the brass, builder grade flush mount lights in bedrooms and hallways. If you’re not sure which style suits your home, ask your realtor or stager.   


Just like new lighting, a fresh coat of paint can make a space feel cleaner and brighter. Neutral shades are best, such as light gray and beige, and if you don’t have time or budget to do the whole house, focus on the areas that you see first when you walk in the house.

Painting the trim is also a good idea if it’s beat-up and dirty. Clean trim looks sharp and gives a subtle nod to how the rest of the house has been taken care of.

And finally, as we mentioned above, painting outdated kitchen cabinets can make a huge difference, especially in a dark kitchen.

Painting cabinets is an update that will help sell your home
Painting outdated oak cabinets brightens the space and adds value.


You’ve heard how much curb appeal matters. It’s true. We’ve had some buyers choose not to even go inside a house if they don’t like the outside. Things like repainting the front door, adding potted plants or flowers on the front porch, keeping the lawn trimmed and tidy, and fresh mulch can make your home shine.

If you need recommendations on anything from paint colors to contractors, please reach out to us. We’re happy to help you get your home ready for a successful sale.


Haviland Real Estate

Related posts

Fourth of July Firework Displays

Warm evenings, large crowds and dazzling fireworks mean one thing: it’s summertime. Ready to...

Continue reading
by Becky Behling

What You Need to Know About Buying a Home

Buying a home is a significant financial decision—likely one of the biggest you’ll make during...

Continue reading
by Haviland Real Estate

Do you really need to declutter to sell your home?

It’s a question thousands of home sellers groan to themselves as they look around at a house full...

Continue reading
by Haviland Real Estate