Avoid Over-Improvements Before Selling Your Home: Here's How

By Alex Long

Posted on September 12th, 2022

house with hands and tools

Disclaimer: We strive to provide objective, independent advice and reviews. When you decide
to use a product or service we link to, we may earn a commission.

You’re probably thinking about doing a few small home improvements before you put it on the market, but you want to avoid making over-improvements. Over-improvements are home improvements that will not get you more than your money back when you sell.

Over improvements can be identified by looking at the neighborhood and making renovations that are in-line with the homes around you. Installing a pool in a neighborhood where there are no pools is a perfect example of making an over-improvement that will result in a negative return on investment (ROI).

Keep reading to learn how to focus on impactful upgrades that will help you bring your home up to your neighborhood’s standards and that will pay you back at closing.

Look at Your Neighborhood

Unless most homes in your area have high-end interior finishes or lavish exterior gardens, spending your time and money on expensive improvements is an over improvement that won't pay you back. It may also make it more difficult to sell.

Why? Because you’ll spend money on your upgrades that you want to recoup at closing, but if it sets your home in a higher price range than neighboring homes, you’ll have a hard time collecting.

Ultimately, your home will sell for a price that is close to the homes around it.

Focus on Affordable Fixes

Rather than going with a big project that may or may not pay you back, look to some of these simple, affordable fixes. According to the pros at the DIY Network, these worthwhile projects will add to the resale value of your home:

Refresh Plumbing by Replacing Old, Clogged, or Leaking Pipes and Faucets

Taking the time to fix annoyances that could turn into big problems later will make walk-throughs more pleasant and will show potential buyers that you really care about your space.

Clean or Add Fresh Grout Around Sinks, Tubs, Fixtures, and Tiled Areas

Doing so will immediately make your space look cleaner and newer.

Re-seal Windows, Doors, and Around Baseboards

You can tell potential buyers about energy costs savings realized from these updates. Be sure to save energy bills to share as proof.

Add Fresh Insulation Within Attic Spaces

Doing so can help turn your extra space into usable storage areas. And again, you should track your energy bills and share any savings with potential buyers.

Replace Non-working Lighting, Electrical Outlets, Food Disposals, and Ceiling Fans

Potential buyers are going to check everything when they walk through your home. Make sure they work! Also, be sure to check for discount fixtures and at your local home improvement store to save even more money.

Repair Wall Holes, Remove Wallpaper, and Give Each Room a Fresh Coat of Paint

The more neutral a space is, the more likely you are to appeal to a wider audience of buyers. That doesn’t mean you have to go with all white paint — feel free to play with beige, gray, tan and other earthy tones.

Tend to Broken Door Locks and Address Any Latching or Sticking Issues

You know that door in the hallway that drives you crazy? Take ten minutes to figure out what’s causing the issue and fix it.

Refresh or Replace Chipped, Scratched, or Damaged Countertops

Countertops that are in ill-repair can be very off-putting to potential buyers. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to replace them.

These easy projects improve the visual appeal and functionality of the home without breaking the bank. While it may be tempting to install new sinks, flooring, tubs, replace cabinets, or increase living space, these aren’t typically wise investments unless they are absolutely necessary.


Quick External Improvements

Potential buyers get their first impressions from the exterior of your home, so you should prioritize tidying up your landscaping. However, adding a sprinkler system, outdoor pool, deck, or ornate lawn adornments likely won’t work in your favor. Keeping your outdoor space clean and simple is your best bet to impress potential buyers and appraisers.

These fixes are relatively easy, cost-effective, and run no risk in being an over-improvement:

  • Replace any broken window panes
  • Touch up any peeling painted surfaces
  • Invest in necessary roofing or gutter repairs
  • Caulk around the foundation of your home
  • Remove any ‘junk’ or unsightly items laying around outdoors
  • Thoroughly clean any decks, fountains, or patio areas
  • Keep your lawn neatly groomed
  • Repair any broken heads on sprinkler systems
  • Paint or replace your front door
  • Paint or replace your old mailbox
  • Power wash the driveway and siding
  • Add a few seasonal flowers to spruce the yard

Find help for your home projects at TaskRabbit.com

To maximize your pre-sale home improvement budget, carefully review your options and prepare a list of your “want-to-do” improvements. Then, prioritize your projects. Put the most essential improvements at the top list and put less necessary or impactful upgrades at the bottom.

If you’re planning on hiring a professional home renovation expert, get at least three quotes before signing an agreement.

Find Remodeling Contractors. Get Up to 4 Quotes Now. It's Quick, Free, and Easy!

Not Sure What to Fix? Ask a Real Estate Professional

If you're unsure of what fixes you should and shouldn't make, we recommend hiring a good, local realtor who can guide you. A good real estate agent will be able to tell you what repairs buyers in the area will expect to be fixed and what they'll ignore. For example, if there are a lot of buyers using USDA, FHA or VA loans in your neighborhood, your home will need certain fixes or your home won't pass inspection.

We recommend our partners at Clever Real Estate to find a good agent and save you thousands in closing costs. With Clever, you can sell your home for just 1% for home sales above $350,000 or $3,000 for home sales below that amount. And best of all, Clever is free. Clever will match you with with up to three top performing agents from companies like RE/MAX, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker.

Pick the agent that has the best advice for what you should and shouldn't repair, and they'll save you thousands in seller's closing costs. In fact, the average Clever seller saves $9,000!

All of the savings, none of the compromises.

Our friends at Clever Real Estate pre-negotiate major savings on listing fees. You'll pay just 1% — which translates to $8,000 in savings for a $400,000 home!

Best of all, you'll never have to sacrifice great service. Clever's nationwide network of trusted real estate agents provide full-service support, from brokerages like Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, and RE/MAX.

Related Reading

Interested in buying or selling?

We've improved the traditional real estate model with modern technology to cut costs, not quality.

Get started today

Posted in Home Improvement, Selling a House