You have decided it's time to sell your home- maybe to move to a new area, maybe you've outgrown your current residence- and as you plan your timing to sell you remember all the great HGTV shows you've watched where the house didn't sell until the homeowner spent a weekend upgrading their kitchen and/or bath and poof- the house sells for thousands more than they thought they could get and in just a day! Right?!

Ok, let's talk reality.  I am constantly asked by sellers about what repairs/upgrades to make prior to us putting their home on the market.  Kitchens sell homes- period. Kitchens are the heart of the home and where most people gather not only for their family meals, but when entertaining as well.  More importantly to a new buyer, kitchens are large, complex and can be very daunting to a new buyer to remodel.  Unlike a bedroom which only requires paint and flooring, or even a bathroom which usually encompasses a lot of tile, kitchens have many elements which quickly add up to a lot of dollars. I personally recommend to my home sellers that they focus on making the kitchen shine when we list their home, BUT the goal needs to be to make the home sell for the least money out of pocket- not what you wanted to replicate from HGTV one more time before you move.

Instead of thinking "luxury", you need to be thinking "clean and functional" when it comes to determining if renovating your kitchen for a home sale is worth it or not.  If your cabinet doors are falling off their hinges, or the counters are stained, chipped, or just plain ugly, then if I was your agent I would recommend making some upgrades to improve the ability to sell your home for a decent sales price.  However, that does not mean this is the time to install granite counters, travertine floors and backsplash, cherry cabinets, etc. which can quickly add up to $40k+ for a kitchen remodel.   I would recommend looking into replacing cabinet doors or simply painting them, installing an inexpensive solid surface or maybe a nice tile countertop, and possibly upgrading torn flooring to inexpensive, neutral tile so that the kitchen looks like it is ready to be used immediately.

According to Remodeling Magazine ( in their Cost vs. Value analysis, the Pacific region will see a loss on every major remodeling project with the exception of converting an attic into a bedroom. Think through that for a minute. You will not recoup the actual dollars you spent on kitchen or bathroom remodels or on structural additions- instead you'll lose somewhere between 62-72% of what you spent!  According to this report, the purpose of completing those types of upgrades should only be for your own benefit and use, not as a selling tool.  I know the next argument will be, "But what about all the money made in flipping homes?"  That is a different beast all its own. In those situations the homes were purchased well below actual market value for the home due to the extremely dilapidated condition of the home. The "flipper" also puts very basic (cheap) upgrades into the home that make the home shine- inexpensive, in-stock carpeting and tile; small, pre-fab cabinets with granite counters for kitchen and baths that don't actually fit the size of the home; and bulk-priced, inexpensive lighting fixtures.

So, do upgrades actually equal a higher sales price? Yes, if you make your home shine with a new coat of paint and maybe a few minor (inexpensive) upgrades to broken/ugly items, this will help your home sell faster and with less discounts in your price, which ultimately equals a higher sales price to you the seller. However, overspending to make your home a showpiece in a market saturated with discounted foreclosure homes is not a wise decision, and in this case the upgrades do not equal a higher sales price to the seller. The bottom line is that you need to do your research, and consult a professional Realtor in your area to see if your home actually benefits from any upgrades prior to sale.