How Much Home Prep Should You Do?

Are you thinking about selling your home?

If so, one of the things that is probably on your mind is what kind of home prep should I do? 

I know. 

It’s one of the most frequently asked questions I get from prospective home sellers…Should you:

  • Add a fresh coat of paint? 

  • Replace some flooring?

  • Update the bathroom?

  • Repair the deck?

  • Update the landscaping?


It’s enough to make your head spin. 


Don’t worry, I'm going to break down the way I look at it and how I approach home prep with prospective home sellers. 


So let's dive in! 


Focus On The Roadblocks


Number one, typically one of the first things you want to look for are the roadblocks.


What do I mean by roadblocks?


I’m not talking about the barricades you see on the road whenever workers are repairing a road. 


No, by roadblocks, what I mean is this... do you have anything that would stop a buyer in their tracks and make them wonder... 


“Do I need to spend a whole bunch of money? Is there something really wrong?”


For an example, let's say you had a leak in your roof last spring.The leak in the roof caused some water damage in the ceiling of the master bathroom.


The damage to the roof was so extensive that you needed to replace the roof. So you did. 


However, you never went back and fixed that watermark on the ceiling. 


It didn’t bother you. You knew the cause of the problem was fixed. Why bother?


That small water spot is a roadblock. 


That small innocuous watermark will stop a potential buyer dead in their tracks and have them questioning the value of the entire house. 


They’re going to wonder:

  • Is there a leak?

  • Do I need to replace the roof?

  • Are there plumbing issues in the house?

  • Are there more problems that I can’t see?

  • Am I going to need to spend money, day one, to move into this place?


Meanwhile you’re thinking you should get top dollar for your home because you just replaced the roof last spring. 


So let's remove that roadblock. 


Anticipate and remove any roadblocks that could create an objection or doubt about your home in a potential buyer's mind. 


Do The Numbers Make Sense?


Number two.


I mean, I can go through to any house and say, sure, yeah, let's do 

  • a fresh coat of paint. 

  • this flooring.

  • update these handles…

  • Hinges… 

  • etc.


But here's the thing. Is it worth it? Maybe. 


Will this make your house sell faster? Probably. 


What about money? Do the numbers make sense? 


Let’s run a couple of scenarios:


Scenario 1…


Let’s say you do updates throughout the whole house… You end up spending $50,000 updating everything that becomes outdated over the years. 


But, what if you only make $30,000 back? That doesn’t excite me and it probably doesn’t execute you. 


Scenario 2… 


Let’s say you spend the same amount of money, $50,000 and I get you $50,000 back and then another $20,000 or $30,000 on top. Now I'm excited. Right? 


So what we need to do is think about positioning. 


I mean, everybody can look at Zillow or and say, “Oh, Hey look, all these homes in my neighborhood and in my area… They’ve been selling X dollars and FAST.


The right number will get anyone excited. 


But we also need to think about what our competition is doing? 


  • What are the other homes on the market right now? 

  • How many homes are on the market? 

  • How fast are they moving? 

  • And what condition are they in? 


Consider Your Position


If you tell me, “Hey, look, these four homes have all sold at lightning-quick speeds, got X amount of money.”


The first thing I’m going to do is say, “That’s awesome! Let’s pull them up.”


You pull them up and show me four homes that recently sold, got top dollar, and look immaculate. 


They were likely flipped.


They have brand new kitchens, new baths, shiny floors, everything just looks awesome. 


How does your home compare to the four you just showed me?


Is it a little dated?


If that's the case, we shouldn't expect to get the same price that those brand new flipped rehab-looking homes are getting. Right? 


That’s totally fine. Once we know where your home stands compared to those other homes we have a couple of options:

Option 1: Decide you want to compete and position your home in that price bracket by doing those updates so we can compete at that same price point, or

Option 2: Just say, you know what, we're not going to be as good. 


And that's okay. 


So instead of coming at that higher price, let's just come down a little bit and let's have a value proposition. 


It's about positioning. It's not just about price. 

The Bottom Line


Listen, it’s still a seller’s market right now. 


If you’re thinking about home prep, remember these big takeaways before you attack your kitchen with a sledgehammer: 

  • Remove roadblocks first,

  • Look at what has sold and what's the condition in those places, and 

  • Consider how you want to position your home in order to compete? 


Hope that helps you. 


That's how I like to look at it. 


Still, considering selling your home? Download my free Home Seller Checklist to get you started on your home selling journey.

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