How Much To Spend Preparing Your House For Sale

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Originally posted on February 8, 2021

If you’re preparing your house for sale, there’s probably a razor thin margin on your mind: how much to spend on preparing for a potential buyer and a future sale. On average, Americans selling their homes can spend nearly $21,000 making repairs and paying agent commissions. With that in mind, about 25% of sellers who made improvements sold above the list price, compared to the 15% of those who didn’t.

But, how do you know which home improvements are worth it? What is the important prep work to sell a house? And how much should you spend? As the provider of high quality landscaping turf, Turf Factory Direct knows a thing or two about how to help homeowners prep their home for a sale. Keep reading to find out how to prepare your house for sale, and how much to budget for it.  

We’ve outlined averages of what homeowners have historically spent on renovations, staging and maintenance, as well as price estimates for recommendations of services to prepare a home for sale. With the variation in costs based on location, these cost estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. They are meant to provide a rough range to help you get a sense of budgeting. A good way to think about how much to invest when budgeting is to go by a percentage of the home’s property value or your asking price, rather than exact dollar amounts.

The areas you to focus on to prepare a home for sale include:

  • Curb appeal, lawn, and landscaping
  • Home staging
  • Renovations and home improvements
  • Repairs and maintenance

When you’re considering your home sale preparation budget, there are three main factors to consider for repair, renovations, and prepping:

  • The current market value and state of the home as it currently stands
  • The cost (money and hassle) to repair or renovate the home to make it easier to sell
  • How much the repair increases market value compared to the cost of the repair (return on investment) 

turf factory direct curb appeal with maximum roi

Curb Appeal & Lawn 

First impressions are important, and the same is true for neighborhoods and homes when homebuyers are shopping. Most real estate agents will tell you curb appeal matters, and it really does. According to landscape economist John Harris, keeping up with good lawn maintenance can contribute to 28% of your home’s overall value.

According to a study done by Michigan State University, a home with landscaping and attractive curb appeal can increase home value by 5 to 11%, and a study from Virginia Tech estimates it can be as high as 15%. That average is narrowed down by a joint study by the University of Alabama and the University of Texas at Arlington, which found that homes with curb appeal sell for an average of 7% more than similar houses with less curb appeal and landscaping efforts.

Due to the massive impact that curb appeal has on real estate value, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) recommends homeowners invest 10% of the home’s value in landscaping, while Better Homes & Gardens recommends spending 5%-15% of home value on landscaping. Though, this size of investment is a long term one, with the goal of increasing home value in order to sell in the future. For the purpose of preparing to sell a home in the near future, we recommend investing a more conservative percentage of 1% of the home’s asking price. 

Since landscaping is so impactful on home value, you want to choose landscaping projects that are impactful as well:

  • Turf Lawn Turf lawns are attractive, durable, and low maintenance. Average cost: $4,710 ($2,749 $6,675)
  • Exterior Paint Usually, the average price per square foot ranges from $0.50 to $3.50 depending on your location, condition of your exterior, and accessibility. Average cost: $2,927 ($1,735$4,123). 

Home Staging

Usually, home staging is the last step of the selling process, where the home is prepared for the marketplace. It makes your house more appealing to buyers, but it also has costs attached. Typically, staging will include renting props and decor, like furniture and wall art, and arranging them to make it more inviting to potential buyers. Professional stagers often work by word of mouth, so it’s in their interest to do a good job. 

Note that staging almost never raises the value of your home, but it does work very effectively as a marketing tool. On average, staged homes sell 73% faster than unstaged home. People are much more likely to make an offer if they can imagine a home as a lived in space. It’s about potential. 

The average home seller spends an average of $1,300 on home staging, with a range from $500 to $5,000.

Some realtors provide home staging as a part of their services, but usually they stage a home for an additional fee. Homeowners may stage a home on their own, or utilize the services of a professional stager, decorator, or interior designer. 

When budgeting for traditional home staging, budget 1%–3% of your asking price for staging. Costs for traditional home staging can range from a couple hundred dollars up to $5,000 or more.

An important part of staging a home is making sure it’s clean and decluttered. Staging and decorating services usually include cleaning services. If you choose to stage yourself or use a realtor, there are a variety of cleaning services to take advantage of.

  • The national average cost of house cleaning is $25 to $50 per hour per cleaner. The price depends on the size of the home, type of cleaning and where you live. 
  • A three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot home costs $150 to $250 to clean on average, while a one-bedroom apartment starts at $80 to $110.
  • You can rent a carpet cleaner for around $30 per day. 
  • The cost to hire professional carpet cleaners will depend on your location and the size of the area of carpet to be cleaned. Average costs typically workout to $20-$75 per room, or $100-$300 for smaller homes, and $300-$600 for larger homes.
  • For exterior home cleaning, a pressure washer will come in handy. Usually, they cost around $40 to $100 per day.
  • Window cleaning prices range from $10 to $15 per window, or $4 to $8 per pane, with third and fourth-floor ladder work adding $3 to $5 per window.The average cost to hire a window cleaner is $151 to $366 with most homeowners spending $258 for a full house cleaning. 

Between interior and exterior surface cleaning, you’re probably looking at somewhere in the range of $500-$700 for the cleaning budget.

Home Improvements

A number of home improvements can be made to help prepare a home to sell. Larger renovations that make a big impact:

  • Bathroom remodel: $5,000–$25,000
  • kitchen remodel: $5,000–$30,000
  • Finishing a basement: $18,000–$35,000
  • Additional rooms and room expansions: $22,000–$75,000

Not every home improvement is as big a project as remodeling a room, smaller renovations can be done to help make a home more appealing to buyers:

  • Interior painting: $1,245 ($957–$2,888) 
  • Full-service lawn care: $145 
  • New knobs and pulls: $5/knob
  • New faucets and fixtures: $100–$200 per fixture

Now, what about the return on investment for such renovations?

Return on Investment

Whenever you’re considering a renovation for a home, it’s a simple cost-benefit analysis. You have to be very clear headed about the price of things in the range of your home. A good realtor will provide comps (comparable houses for sale in the neighborhood) that will help you determine how much a renovation will end up netting you. 

Fixer-upper buyers will discount the price of the home to allow for the repairs, then discount it a bit more for the inconvenience. 

As an example, let’s say a home is worth $100,000 fixed up, but it needs a new roof. That new roof might be expected to cost $10,000. A buyer most likely will not offer $90,000 for this home as is. They could buy an identical home with a new roof for $100,000 and not have the hassle. A buyer for this type of home might offer $75,000 or even less. 

In this scenario, the seller would be smarter to pay for a new roof and sell the home for $100,000.

Fortunately, not every project will be as big as a new roof. Determining which projects have the highest ROI is a good way to help budget what to spend on preparing a home for sale.  

Best ROI Projects 

So, what are the home improvements with the best ROI? Here’s some to consider:

  • Landscaping: Returns an average of 100%
  • Minor Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 102%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel: Returns an average of 98%
  • Attic Bedroom Conversion: Returns an average of 93%
  • Major Bathroom Remodel: Returns an average of 93%
  • Major Kitchen Remodel: Returns an average of 91%
  • Entry Door Replacement: Returns an average of 90%
  • Deck/Patio/Porch Addition: Returns an average of 90%
  • Basement Remodel: Returns an average of 90%
  • Replace Windows: Returns an average of 89%

These numbers will vary over time, and depending on location. A good realtor should be able to provide insight into which renovations and upgrades are in high demand in your current market. 

Pre-Sale Checklist

It can sometimes be helpful to be pretty procedural about getting your house ready to sell. Here’s some tips. 

1) Assess Your House’s Condition

Assess the big four: HVAC, foundation, roof, and plumbing. The reason they’re called the big four is that they cost the most. Make sure that they’re all in good shape and assess how much one might cost to fix before doing anything else. 

2) Make Cosmetic Improvements

Compare your house to other houses in the neighborhood. Have the other houses in your neighborhood upgraded? Also consider the quality of kitchens, bathrooms, master bathrooms, and living rooms. What improvements do they need? Are they worth doing to increase home value? 

3) Prepare Your House for the Market

Once the house is mechanically sound and upgraded, it should be completely cleaned and decluttered. 

Keep Up on Maintenance

The condition of the home is one of the biggest factors of determining its value. A home inspection can cost between $500 and $1000. When a prospective buyer does one, some of the flaws of the home can become apparent. Knowing in advance what those problems and issues are, and what might be needed to repair and deal with them is essential. If you know about a problem, and defer fixing it, that can add up to a lot of extra work over time. 

Average costs for deferred home maintenance repairs:

  • Average cost of electric repairs go from $500 –$3,509 depending on the electrical project.
  • Heating and cooling repairs cost from $750–$15,552 depending on the project.
  • Plumbing repair services go from $204–$5,145 depending on the services.
  • Water damage $1,043–$30,852
  • The average costs of repairing a gas leakage range from $150–$7,000 depending on the type of repair.
  • The average costs of termite control go from $500–$2,500 depending on the method of extermination (DIY up to chemical extermination).
  • On average, professional mold remediation and repair can cost from $500–$60,000 and depending on the severity of the mold, it can soar into tens of thousands.

Total average cost of deferred home maintenance repairs is $20,760! 

According to HomeLight, there are a couple different sets of guidelines for budgeting home maintenance. One is to budget 1%–3% per year. Another is to budget $1 per square foot, per year. Whichever guideline for home maintenance budgeting you choose to follow, make sure you perform maintenance and repairs consistently to maintain home value. 

Prepping a House To Sell 

Homeowners spend $15,000 on average to prepare a house for sale— anywhere from $10,000 to $55,000 on home improvement projects, and $500–$5,000 on staging and preparation, depending on location. The average homeowner spends $3,000–$7,000 on home improvement and staging is, and $10,000 to $15,000 on larger renovations.

Overall, when preparing a house to sell, a safe number to stay below is 10% of the asking price. When budgeting, allocate 1%–3% of your asking price each for staging and lawn and landscaping, and use comps to help determine the best home improvements to invest in.

Consulting with a realtor, appraiser, landscaper, or decorator, and determining if now is the right time to sell is a great way to get the most out of your home improvement investments. An artificial turf lawn is one of the best ways to enhance curb appeal, and can really bring up the value of your home. At Turf Factory Direct, we make sure to provide some of the best turf for the money, and our staff is ready to assist with any questions you might have. Get in touch with us today to learn more.