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Should I Renovate My House Before Selling?

Home renovations

Selling your home is an incredibly personal decision. Even when the market seems favorable, deciding it’s time to list your home means weighing several factors. If you’ve been thinking about listing your home for a while, though, now might be a good time to make the move. According to Realtor.com’s weekly housing report, during the first week of October, the U.S. median home price remained near its summer peak of $350,000 and hit record-high growth of 12.9 percent over the previous year. And, there are no signs of a slowdown just yet.

The pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives over the past few months, and it could be one reason for the housing boom, as well. According to the Pew Research Center, about a fifth of U.S. adults moved or know someone who moved due to COVID-19. That could also be why the Census reports that new, single-family homes sold in August 2020 were 43.2 percent above estimates from those in August 2019. Additionally, mortgage rates are near-historic low, which has not only attracted first-time buyers but kept housing prices at record highs.

If you’ve decided to sell, it’s worth asking yourself if you need to make major repairs or do minor remodeling to boost your home’s appeal to buyers. Along with routine maintenance — like window cleaning, landscaping, updating chipped paint, etc. – and staging, what updates could put your home on-trend for your area? If you’re in the market to sell your home in the near future, this remodeling checklist can help you get financially prepared, while the following list of upgrades talks about popular home design trends. The earlier you decide what you want to change before listing your home, the less stress you’ll feel when it’s actually time to sell.

Or maybe these updates will make you fall in love with your home all over again and you’ll decide to stay. Either way, it could be a win-win.

Common home upgrades

Renovating the kitchen

How it might help: The kitchen is often the heart of the home. It’s where we cook for our families, entertain and talk about our day. Perhaps that’s why the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors says 40 percent of realtors suggest sellers complete a kitchen upgrade before selling, with 20 percent saying the project helped close a sale.

Trends to consider: Kitchen trends come and go, but this year, some old favorites are making a comeback. According to a report from Houzz, one in two homeowners opted to add a new island or upgrade an existing one in 2020, with storage and overhead lighting leading in go-to island necessities.

“Solid-surface counters have been a ‘must’ for a long time,” said Dianne Rechel, realtor at Regional Executives Capital Region. And when it comes to staging, “be sure to organize and declutter to make it appear more spacious,” Rechel added.

For a little added glam, full-wall backsplashes are also popular, with blue emerging as a favorite kitchen wall trend this year. Lighting can be a powerful — and cheap — factor, too. “If your kitchen offers a lot of natural light, make the most of it by opening curtains and blinds,” said Rechel. “Also consider adding more overhead or spot lighting. Fresh, light and bright are three of a realtor’s favorite words.”

Take advantage of the Discover Personal Loan remodeling cost calculator to ballpark kitchen and bathroom projects.

Remodeling the bathroom

How it might help: Most homeowners come to their bathroom to relax, so making it a serene spot is a sensible goal. It makes sense, then, that 33 percent of realtors suggest sellers complete a bathroom upgrade before selling, with four percent saying the project helped close a sale.

Trends to consider: When it comes to bathrooms, making the most out of the space often requires strategic changes. For example, although 55 percent of renovators say a soaking tub helps them relax, only 10 percent of renovators report adding a bathtub during their remodel.

Instead, more than a third of homeowners add an accent wall to their shower, and four in five replace the lighting in the master bathroom, which includes lighting up bathroom mirrors and installing LED lights. Adding some fun, high-tech features to things like faucets and toilets are also popular upgrades. “The more luxurious, the better,” said Rechel. “Small extras like a heated towel bar may give buyers the feeling that they would be living a luxurious life there.”

Upgrade the flooring

How it might help: Underfoot but not forgotten, flooring makes a strong first impression. So it stands to reason that 16 percent of realtors suggest sellers upgrade worn-out flooring before selling, with five percent saying the project helped close a sale.

Trends to consider: As far as floors go, you can’t go wrong with classic wood. “One of the most popular and attractive features a home can have is gleaming hardwood floors,” said Rechel. “Hardwood such as oak has long been a staple in fine homes. With many buyers concerned about sustainability, another popular choice is bamboo. The demand for environmentally responsible materials is growing.” If wood floors aren’t an option in your home, Rechel recommends ceramic tile of light and gray shades, which is also very trendy, or laminate products that resemble hardwood.

Replacing the roofing

How it might help: It might not be as fun as other home improvements, but functionality is key and homebuyers seem to appreciate homeowners who replace worn-out roofing with brand new ones. In fact, 39 percent of realtors suggest sellers upgrade worn-out roof surfaces before selling, and 33 percent say the project helped close a sale.

Trends to consider: Your roof can make a bold statement about your house, especially when you follow roofing trends in 2020, which include asphalt shingles, metal roofing and solar panels. “Roofs are a necessity, add to a home’s appeal and increase its value,” said Rechel. “They are also expensive, and not a fun remodel to deal with. From a buyer’s vantage point, the more life the roof has left in it, the better.”

Once you’ve decided to sell your home, making some upgrades can help you prepare your house for the market and be a fun process along the way.

And, one of the easiest ways to help make any home update less stressful is to figure out how to finance the project ahead of time. A personal loan from Discover, for example, could be one potential route that’s easy and financially smart.

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