Bang for Your Buck

If you’re considering selling your house, chances are you’ve also considered making some updates to make it more appealing to potential buyers. If you’re working with a realtor, you may have asked him or her for advice on what types of upgrades are most worthwhile, or you may have spent a good amount of time researching what updates will yield the best return on your own.

The common mantra for quite some time has been, “Kitchens and baths sell homes.” And, in reality, this is probably true much of the time. But neglecting the basics while prioritizing the kitchen and baths can prove to be a not-so-wise approach.

Even if your kitchen and bathrooms are newly remodeled, major defects can still hinder your chances of selling your home for the amount you seek. The most immaculate kitchen won’t outweigh an active roof leak or major structural defect in the minds of most buyers. It’s for this reason that I recommend an approach of focusing on the basics above kitchens and baths alone.

But what, exactly, are the “basics?” Well, I would define the basics as any systems or components of the home that relate to everyday safety, function and structural integrity. Cosmetics aren’t as big of a factor here, although they certainly DO play a major role in attracting would-be buyers. Think of the basics as factors that impact the house’s ability to remain stable and safe. If your home has a major water problem in the basement but also has an outdated bathroom, take care of the water in the basement before revamping the bathroom. If you have a leaking roof and also have an unappealing kitchen, be sure to take care of the leak before tackling the kitchen remodel.

This advice may seem obvious, but many people who desire to sell their home may easily overlook the “basics” and prioritize the aspects of the home that they feel will help it to sell more quickly. This is understandable, but it’s not a very smart practice in most cases.

As a home inspector, I’ve seen homes with amazing, high-tech features and gorgeous kitchens and bathrooms that still have a myriad of other defects. Likewise, I’ve also seen plenty of homes that aren’t very visually appealing but have very few defects and will likely hold up and function very well for whomever is wise enough to purchase them. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a house by a couple of rooms.

You should certainly consider the look and setup of important rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, but you should not let their appeal outweigh severe defects that exist elsewhere in the house. Review your home inspection report thoroughly and take into account the home’s structural integrity, safety and other important factors, despite how new and appealing a couple of rooms may be. Hopefully, a house with updated rooms will also contain other updates, making it all the more appealing.

Whether you’re selling or buying, focusing on the basics is a wise strategy and one that will ultimately prove more rewarding than prioritizing less essential items on your checklist. In the end, you’ll get the biggest “bang for your buck” by getting the essentials in order first.

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Author: hillinspections

I am a Certified Master Inspector (CMI) and the owner and operator of Hill Property Inspections LLC, the top-rated inspection company in the greater Johnstown, PA area, based out of western Pennsylvania. I specialize in property inspections and environmental testing services and have a passion for helping my own clients and other families in learning to properly maintain their homes. I’m also the owner of Hill Pest Control, LLC and a pest management professional committed to helping our clients rid their homes and businesses of unwanted pests. I am an Army veteran, former State Farm Insurance Agent, and real estate investor with experience in all facets of real estate construction, transaction and insurance. I am also the founder and President of the Southwestern PA Chapter of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) and an affiliate member of the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors (CSAR).

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