Nov 30, 2017 by - Sarah Chatel

Should Your Client Sell “As Is” or Remodel? 

Inevitably, when meeting with my clients, the question comes up: “Should I sell ‘as is’ or should I remodel?”  

Having lived through a number of renovations myself, I audibly or inaudibly quip, “What is your tolerance for pain?” Everyone laughs and we move on to the discussion of what would the return on investment for improvements be versus doing nothing but decluttering. 

Because it is still a seller’s market—for now—in certain price points and in certain areas of the country, most major upgrades will result in more money in the sellers’ pocket at closing.  As the market SHIFT comes into focus, I believe these recommendations will still hold true as our clients will be up against more inventory. Their homes will need to visually stand out against the rest of the pack. With a market shift, it will be harder to get the highest ROI. However, they will be able to sell in a shorter time span than their competition. 

Based on my experience and in researching this topic, the kitchen and bathrooms are still the best investments and will garner a quicker sale at a higher price. As an avid reader of home improvement periodicals, here are some suggestions which are also backed by my personal experience.  

Budget Friendly Bathroom Update Ideas 

  1. Subway tile one wall in your bathroom. Approx. $500 
  2. Paint with spa colors. Try Sea Salt or Tradewind by Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa paint in Sea Isle. If these colors are too dark for your space, depending on the size of your bathroom, I suggest asking the paint expert to make it ¼ to ½ strength, trim should be white high gloss, approx. $70
  3. Add bead board to the ceiling or walls
    • Add a ceiling track rod for the shower curtain, especially in smaller bathrooms.  It will visually raise the height of the room. Use burlap or white cotton sheets as the shower curtain, depending on the fabric for the shower curtain you choose, approx. $200
    • Frame the vanity mirror. You’ve seen them, the builder grade vanity mirror that extends the length of the sink.  If you frame this mirror, it will have a much more finished feel. Approx. $75
    • Get rid of the gold. 1990’s gold bathroom fixtures and shower frame definitely screams “dated.”  I usually recommend changing out the faucets and painting the shower frame with a Rustoleum metallic silver color to match new fixtures. Just make sure you use blue tape for the shower glass before you begin, speaking from experience and for those of us who paint outside the lines, approx. $200-$800
    • Flooring. Some bathroom floors just need a good scrubbing with a tile and grout cleaner and a hard bristle brush. If the flooring is cracked, dated or just plain ugly, there are a variety of ways to update on a budget.  Keeping possible water issues in mind, you could consider linoleum or basic tile.  Planning, measuring and pricing are key to determine whether or not the cost outweighs the benefit. Last year, I had a Luxury client who had green shag carpet in their master bedroom and bath.  Besides it being heinous, it didn’t fit the luxury image we were going for in our marketing plan.  My stager and I were able to talk them into investing in marble floors in the master bath and it made such a difference. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk them into changing out the master bedroom’s green shag carpet to hardwood. The comments from potential buyers and other agents confirmed my suspicion.

Here’s a few more ideas from This Old House, Houzz and HGTV with my personal experience/advice: 

Budget Friendly Kitchen Update Ideas

  1. Paint the cabinets. This one thing has the biggest impact on how a kitchen shows. If painting the whole kitchen is just too much for your client to take on, paint the island only, approx. $100 – $1000
  2. Change hardware on cabinets. This is an easy and inexpensive upgrade. Home Depot has a plethora of options.  If you want to get fancy, Anthropologie has more expensive knobs for smaller areas which will really pack a nice punch with an unexpected pop of color.  In my kitchen, I personally mixed and matched knobs and pulls when we renovated our 1930’s English Tudor Bungalow.  You can spend from $5.00 to $50 per pull or knob, depending on your budget and the look you’re going for.  
  3. Flooring. You can sometimes paint an older wood floor rather than refinishing them.  I found some other inexpensive options here: These prices can vary depending on the look you are trying to achieve. Approx. $100-$3000 (a couple of cans of paint versus all new flooring depending on size of the space) 
  4. Lighting. Under counter lighting is the least expensive and has the best bang for your buck.  It is also great for adding additional light to an otherwise dark kitchen. A single pendant light over the kitchen sink can also be a statement piece for the room. There are also other great ideas for inexpensive lighting found in this article from HGTV. Approx. $200-500
  5. Countertops. Sometimes changing countertops just doesn’t fit the budget, especially if you have other glaring issues to be addressed in a home. Six out of 10 times I recommend leaving the existing countertops when I’d rather their budget be spent on, say, flooring instead.  Quartz and soapstone are hitting the best sellers’ list these days because it is not as porous as marble or granite. Formica, a name from the past, is also making a comeback. Did you know there are also ways to update the existing countertops with Rustoleum paint or contact paper? Approx $25-250 or 
  6. Backsplash. You won’t believe the options available for sprucing up your kitchen’s backsplash on a budget! From painting, peel and stick ceramic tiles to metal panels. All these on a budget too! 
  7. Sinks and faucetsIf you are considering a new sink because the one in the house is chipped or cracked, there are some inexpensive ways to upgrade.  Just keep in mind what your countertops will be before investing.  Here are some various styles to consider: You don’t have to have designer faucets to look great. Also, if the existing one is working, leave well enough alone.  However, if you have the time and money, updating your kitchen faucets will set you back under $400 if you can DIY. Otherwise, you’ll need to figure in the cost of a handyman or plumber to install. 

Here’s a few more ideas from This Old House: 

As part of our Concierge Service, my team and I get quotes for materials and installation and then meet with the client to discuss costs versus benefits.  If we can do a modest, updated kitchen and bath for under $4,000, for example, and depending on the price of the home, our discussion turns back to ROI.  Obviously, you will spend more as a Luxury listing and less if you’re under a certain price point. By not doing the recommended upgrades, however, homes could sell for wholesale value.  We take this opportunity to remind clients that there are three ways a buyer decides to purchase a home: location, condition and price. When it comes to price, the points to consider are: will their house sell for full retail, discounted retail or wholesale.  By investing in their investment, they are committing to be part of your team. This way, everyone wins!


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