You’ve made the decision to sell your home. Congratulations!
But now you have another big decision to make. Should you sink any more money into the property or sell it as is? The prospect of doing work on your old home in order to get a new one seems super daunting. I want to assure you it can be well worth it.
And the room where you can do the least amount of work for the most return is the kitchen.
It makes perfect sense. The kitchen has become the new “family room.” It’s where everyone hangs out, even when nobody is cooking. The bigger the better. With one of those long center islands that are displayed lovingly on every show on HGTV.
But what if you don’t already have that huge kitchen to start with? A complete renovation is really expensive. It’s also unnecessary.
Here are the kitchen upgrades you should do instead.
MOST BUYERS WANT “MOVE-IN READY” HOMES
If you can convince potential buyers that they can live with your kitchen just the way it is for a number of years and not have to immediately renovate, you will be many steps ahead of your competition.
These fixes range from inexpensive to moderately expensive. But none of them is anything like a complete renovation. And you don’t need to do all of them. Any of them will help.
6 SIMPLE KITCHEN UPGRADES YOU CAN MAKE TO IMPROVE THE VALUE OF YOUR KITCHEN
1. Upgrade Your Cabinets
Now, you could easily spend $10,000 or more to replace the cabinets of even a moderate size kitchen. But it’s not necessary for our purposes. Here are some much cheaper solutions:
- PAINT. Don’t just use any old paint because it won’t look right. Benjamin Moore makes a special line of paints called ADVANCE. I’ve used this myself, and I was able to make 25 year-old cabinets look brand new.As for color choice, I always recommend a light white color that blends with the rest of your kitchen. Benjamin Moore has an entire section in its book of just White and Off-White colors. If you have dark cabinets, then consider re-staining.While you’re at it, if they’re not already, consider repainting your walls a neutral light color. Greys and off-whites are currently more popular than warm yellow-ish tones. It’ll cost between $300-500 to have your kitchen painted.
- NEW HARDWARE. This is an easy and inexpensive way to update your cabinets. Take a good look at the style of your kitchen and think of ways to modernize it. Stainless, simple and modern handles and knobs will give you the crisp look buyers are looking for. Hardware can cost anywhere from $2 to $10 apiece. You don’t have to overspend here. You can easily achieve a clean and simple look for a few hundred dollars.
- CARPENTER. Hire a good craftsman. One of the reasons your cabinets look old and dated is that their hinges are a little off, the drawers are a little chipped, and the doors don’t line up evenly. Find the right person and set him to work. In a day or two your cabinets will seem brand new. No creaks, no hanging doors. A few hundred dollars later and you can show off your cabinets with confidence.
- COUNTERTOPS. Granite and Quartz, Granite and Quartz. The two buzzwords that all buyers keep repeating every time they look at a house. But this is where the money can get frightening. So what to do? Changing your countertops can make a world of difference; so depending on your pocketbook I would recommend doing this. It’s the final piece of the puzzle.My recommendations? Don’t ever use Quartz. Even though it’s very “current”, its price per square foot can run between $55-$125 and only comes in full sheets. So you can’t even buy a piece measured to your needs.Instead, find yourself a granite warehouse and see what you can find that’s reasonable. Granite can cost as little as $30 per square foot and you can get an even better price if you can locate a remnant. These are leftovers from other bigger projects, and the warehouse salesperson is very happy to get it out of the shop. You can definitely negotiate a good price. And they often throw in a brand new stainless sink for free!An average size kitchen will cost you $3-4,000 for new granite countertops. Take a look at your budget and see if you can manage it. You will definitely get that money back and then some.
2. Improve Your Appliances
Stainless steel is the bomb. It seduces and let’s a buyer show off to his friends and family. This can be an expensive renovation category. So how do you know if you need to replace your appliances? Ask yourself these two questions:
a) What colors are your current appliances? If you have Avocado or Harvest Gold, sorry, but you’ll need to replace them. White or black? You can live with that.
b) How old are they? If any of your items is close to the appliance graveyard, replace it (in stainless.) You really do have to give your potential buyer a sense of confidence that they’re buying appliances in good working condition. So either replace them with ones that work or get a repairman to make sure they’re in top working condition.
If you do need to purchase any new appliances, try to take advantage of giant in-store or online discounts.
3. Install an Island
The first thing buyers ask for when they see a kitchen without an island? “Can we add an island?”
If you have the room, solve the problem before they even ask. Don’t feel like you must add more cabinets – that’s expensive. Instead, buy a free-standing island. If you’re also purchasing granite, buy the island without a counter and just add some more square footage to your granite purchase.
If you don’t have room for an island, you can still buy one on wheels that can either live on the sidelines and be rolled in when its time for use.
Once again, there are kitchen supply warehouses and discount used furniture outlets where you can get a good deal. Your goal is to make your buyer feel you’re giving them extra value.
4. Improve the Lighting
You now have a beautiful renovated kitchen, but your lighting is dated, faded and filled with dead bugs. (Come on, you know it’s true.).
If you don’t have fancy recessed lighting in your ceiling, it’s a must do. Extremely attractive contemporary lighting can be found at home stores and online. It’s not a huge cost, but it makes a big difference.
Budget $49-119 per fixture and a couple of hundred dollars for an electrician. Unless, of course, you know someone who can make these quick and easy replacements without electrocuting herself!
5. Fix the Floor
If it’s tattered linoleum, really do consider replacing with some of those wood composite products that are out in the market. You can get it as cheaply as $…. per square foot. Installation is easy.
If you already have wood and it’s all scratched up in places, I would apply a buff. It’s a product you can find that is applied with a special mop. Stay off of it for a day and voila it looks much better. You can hire a professional to do the job, but if you feel moderately handy you can do this yourself. And if worse comes to worse, invest in a lovely inexpensive cotton throw rug to cover the aforementioned messy area. New flooring is not an area where I would make a big investment.
Give your potential buyers the sense that there’s plenty of room for storage and organization. Here’s where to focus:
- Clean out your drawers. Really clean them out.
- Organize your pots and pans. If you don’t have an actual pantry closet, buy a cheap rack for the basement and stage it with extra cans and boxes. Make sure it’s within easy access to the kitchen.
- Take almost everything off your countertops. I’ve been known to hide extra doo-dads and appliances in boxes down in the basement.
- Leave only a handful of well selected cookbooks.
- Keep your décor simple simple simple. And I know this seems silly, but a big bowl of fruit (it can even be fake fruit) on the counter really does adds a pop of color.
- Add a bit of fantasy if you can. If you don’t have a cappuccino maker, borrow one! Everyone wants to make cappuccino even if no one actually does. Make them think that if they buy your home, they’ll be serving cappuccino like true experts.
If you make your kitchen look like no one lives in it, everyone will want to live there.
Remodeling your kitchen for sale does not have to be torturous. You can spend less if you pre-plan wisely and do your homework. And I promise you that your house will sell more quickly and at a higher price!