RE/MAX Brokers Offer 7 Ideas, Big and Small, to Boost Your Home’s Market Value When It’s Time to Sell

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A panel of RE/MAX brokers was asked to identify the best routes to adding value to a home that is about to be put up for sale. Here are their seven leading recommendations.

“An investor’s entire rehab budget is determined by the likely sales price of the finished product. The same should be true for owners who want to fix up their home prior to sale.”

Boosting the value of a home can be done in many ways, and not surprisingly, some deliver a higher return on investment than others do.

With that in mind, a panel of RE/MAX brokers was asked to identify the best routes to adding value. Here are their seven leading recommendations.

1.    Budget Carefully – Homeowners can learn a lot from professional rehabbers, advises David Ayabarreno of RE/MAX Showcase in Gurnee, Ill.

“An investor’s entire rehab budget is determined by the likely sales price of the finished product,” he explained. “The same should be true for owners who want to fix up their home prior to sale.”

In an area where homes in excellent condition top out at $340,000, it could make sense to spend $25,000 improving a home now valued at $300,000, but investing $60,000 seems likely to be a mistake.

2.    Spruce Up Kitchen/Baths – The RE/MAX agents agreed that updating older kitchens and baths will typically offer a solid return on investment, but costs can mount quickly, so make the improvements strategically.

“Buyers want those rooms in move-in, updated condition and are willing to pay for that. So, $2,000 for a stainless-steel appliance package can be money well spent,” said Carmen Keslin of RE/MAX 10, Palos Park, Ill.

“You don’t have to remodel the entire kitchen or bath,” noted Michael Lenz, a broker with RE/MAX of Naperville in Naperville, Ill. “In the kitchen for example, you can have a major impact by re-facing the cabinets, changing the cabinet hardware and installing new countertops. A new vanity and sink can perk up a bath. In both cases, the investment is reasonable compared to the value added.”

3.    Boost Curb Appeal – Exterior appearance has a major impact on the salability of a home, according to Angela Bjork of RE/MAX Unlimited Northwest in Algonquin, Ill. She explains that attractive landscaping can deliver significant returns for a modest cost.

“Trimming the bushes and planting seasonally appropriate flower does wonders to attract buyers, and don’t forget the driveway if you have one,” she said. “Refreshing the blacktop or replacing a damaged section of concrete can make a home look years younger. Even something as simple as a new mailbox can be a real plus. And if your home can handle shutters, they can give the house a new look for a minimal investment.”

4.    Refresh the Interior – The RE/MAX brokers all were enthusiastic about painting the interior of the home in light, neutral colors as a low-cost value enhancer, and they recommend removing all existing wallpaper as part of that process. If painting the entire interior seems like too big of a project, just focus on the main living areas, advised Lenz.
Along with fresh paint, consider new lighting fixtures to brighten the interior.

“Many homes, but especially condos, have very little in the way of permanent lighting and rely on floor and table lamps, so consider adding a few stylish fixtures at a moderate cost,” suggested Natalie Renna of RE/MAX Vision 212 in Chicago.

5.    Cleanliness Counts – Spending the time and, if necessary, the money to get your home squeaky clean is another relatively low-cost way to boost its sale price.

When it comes to cleaning, really focus on the kitchens and baths, advises Renna, and don’t forget the tile grout. “If it’s dirty, it really makes a poor impression,” she said.

While cleaning, don’t ignore odors, especially from pets or smoking. Both have major negative impacts on the value of a home, Keslin reports.

“Buyers don’t want to deal with odors, so it’s really up to the seller to get them out. That can be challenging, but if you don’t, the cost can be high,” she said.

6.    Focus on Flooring – Attractive floors, whether tiled, carpeted or hardwood, add value to a home.

“Sometimes you can get by with cleaning the carpeting, but buyers want to see flooring that is clean and in good condition,” said Ayabarreno. “New carpeting is often the best choice, but hardwood is even better if it can be accomplished within your budget.”

7.    Enhance Outdoor Space – Almost every buyer relishes a nice outdoor space, so if your home has one, make it a high point, advises Bjork.

“If you don’t have a deck or patio or if it’s quite small, you may want to add one or expand what’s there,” she said. Ideally, it will be large enough for six or eight people to dine there.

RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of more than 2,250 sales associates and 103 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 110,000+ sales associates in 100+ nations.


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Chris Calomino
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
+1 (847) 428-4200
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