Top 10 Home Upgrades to Sell Home for More

Selling a home in the Portland real estate market this summer? Patience is the key word. In the first four months of 2019, homes were taking an average of 66 days to sell — 11 days longer than they were on the Portland market this time last year. 

If waiting isn’t your strong suit, we’ve got some ideas. Why not take advantage of good weather and slower buyer activity to make a few home improvements? According to recent research by Zillow, nearly a quarter of sellers who make improvements end up selling above list price, compared with 16 percent of sellers who don’t.

Most home sellers are busy, but there are plenty of worthwhile projects that can be tackled in a weekend, with proven results for your pocketbook. For example, did you know that homes with dark-colored front doors sold for an average of $6,000 more? That’s what Zillow found when they looked at home sale data from the last ten years for 32,000 homes across the country. Read more about the best paint colors for your interior and exterior projects here.

Other than painting and cleaning (always the number one return on your time and money), here are some more DIY project ideas that could pay off big when you sell your Portland home.

  1. Entryway facelift. Why stop at painting the front door? The area around the front entry is prime real estate for boosting curb appeal, so take some time and think about how it could be improved. Are the light fixtures clean and attractive-looking? Can you add a fresh doormats or some potted plants? Some entryway aficionados recommend adding or increasing the size of columns around the front door, then decorating them with pre-made corbels. The effect is hard to argue with: They draw the eye to the entryway and make it feel cozy, yet distinctive.
  2. Create an outdoor escape. The biggest problem for many Portland yards and gardens is that they lack definition — a simple square of lawn does not excite the buyers’ imagination. Use what you have to stage an area that sets the scene: A patio furniture set and a grill, for example. Because outdoor items may have some signs of use (rust spots, scratches), spend an afternoon cleaning them up. Outdoor furniture can be revitalized with some steel wool and a can of spray paint. Replace worn or sun-bleached cushions and fill out the backdrop with plants. 
  3. Add storage. If you’ve always wished for a corner cabinet in the laundry room or some shelves in the garage, chances are your buyers will want these things, too. Check Habitat for Humanity or a builder’s surplus store for deals on materials. Be sure to paint the shelves when you paint the room so that everything looks uniform. 
  4. Do a thorough job of air-sealing. With the Home Energy Score now a requirement in Portland, one of the first bits of information buyers are going to see about your home is whether it needs to be air sealed. Most home owners can do this job themselves in just a few hours by investing in some caulk and weather stripping. Read more about air sealing your home here.
  5. Tile the bathroom floor. According to Zillow, bathrooms 25 years old or more can benefit from a mid-range remodel, which will pay off for home owners to the tune of $1.71 in increased home value for every dollar spent. Replacing plumbed fixtures is a job best left to the pros, but homeowners can take on the tiling part of the project. A well tiled floor or even just a sink backsplash is both functional and beautiful — two things buyers love.
  6. Facelift the fireplace. The focal point of many Portland homes is the fireplace. Consider a floor to ceiling surround or increase the mantel size, but be sure to stay in line with the character of the home as you update.
  7. Get (a little bit) smarter. Smart home features are becoming more prevalent in Portland, and they’re great for home showings. Plus, you can take your gadgets with you when you move to your new home. Try a smart thermostat for the ability to turn down the A/C this summer an hour before the home showing — even if you’re out of town for the weekend. Smart light bulbs make every home showing perfect by allowing you to apply just the right amount and type of light to every corner of the home. 
  8. One-up your neighbors. Hey, it’s a friendly competition. If you’re selling your home, it doesn’t hurt to take a walk around and see how it compares to others on your street. Does your mailbox look a little dingy compared to the one next door? Not a bad idea to replace it. Many home buyers won’t notice a slightly weedy yard — unless your neighbor happens to have a lush and perfect lawn in front of his house. Make adjustments until you’re confident that your home stands out from the pack. 
  9. Color inside the lines. Yes, home stagers and real estate agents usually recommend sticking to neutral shades when you repaint your home’s interior, but sometimes a little color can help. Zillow research backs us up once again — in fact, they found that in Portland specifically, homes with blue kitchens sold for nearly 7% more than homes without. Another place they recommend adding color is in kids’ bedrooms. Just keep it light so that buyers can easily repaint in a shade they prefer. 
  10. Facelift the kitchen cabinets. Most home sellers won’t get their money back from full kitchen remodels, but updating the look can go a long way. If you have older cabinets, spend a weekend removing the doors (you might leave some of them off for an open-shelf look). Repaint the rest of the cabinet doors and update the hardware before replacing. 

Want more ideas for getting your home ready to sell? Our #1 Portland sellers agents are here to offer our experience! 

May 27, 2019

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

4% max to sell a home in Portland and SW Washington.
4.25% max to sell a home in Salem and Bend.
Over 2,000 homes sold.