In today’s current environment, people are spending more time in their homes and are looking for ways to avoid going stir crazy. I’ve been speaking with my clients even more than usual during these uncertain times and have found that many of them are taking advantage of their additional in-home time to tackle improvement projects that have fallen to the wayside.

In particular, I’m working with clients to help them understand how to prioritize possible repair and improvement projects based on which ones will provide the strongest return on their investment as they get ready to list their home.

Most sellers understand that it’s inevitable their home will need some repairs and improvements before listing. The real dilemma lies in knowing which of these are mission-critical versus nice-to-have — which ones will increase the value of their home versus drain their bank account with no return.

Understanding which improvements are non-negotiable and which will yield the highest return can be tricky. Often, the answer is dependent on a variety of factors, such as the condition of competing homes for sale, whether the market is hot or cold, and the likelihood of a buyer to pay extra for something. An experienced agent is an invaluable asset when you’re trying to determine which improvements and repairs to make.

While I strongly recommend that people work with an agent before starting any projects prior to listing, there are certain investments that are pretty much guaranteed to provide strong ROI.


Pro Tip #1: Low-cost, Aesthetic Improvements Go A Long Way

  • Refinish your wood floors and install fresh carpeting. In the grand scheme of improvements, flooring is an affordable way to upgrade your home, and buyers are sure to notice.
  • Clean or replace your tile grout. This may seem small, but this is a great way to make buyers feel like your home is fresh, clean, and well-maintained.
  • Paint. Paint. Paint. Whether you’re freshening up trim or redoing entire rooms, painting projects always pay off. If you’re on a tight budget, focus on the high-traffic areas of your home, like entryways/foyers, main hallways, and the kitchen and family room. These spaces are focal points in a home, and a fresh coat of neutral-colored paint will go a long way to make a great impression in photos and when buyers first walk in.

Pro Tip #2: Bathroom & Kitchen Improvements Are Worth The Cost

Go high-quality, but don’t overspend. You don’t necessarily need to do complete renovations to see a high return on your investment (upward of 100% in many cases). Oftentimes, things like painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances and fixtures yield a higher return than a full redesign. Spend your budget on these rooms judicially. Design and product selection are key.

Make your updates classic & timeless. Refinish hardwood floors, cabinetry, windows, walls, woodwork, and countertops. If budget permits, replace fixtures and hardware to round out your finishes. Choose neutral paint colors and avoid finishing trends that are likely to go out of style or appeal to a narrow subset of buyers.

Pro Tip #3: Higher-Cost Structural Improvements Will Always Add Value

Cosmetic changes, aesthetic updates and refinishing improvements are great ways to ensure a higher resale value. But, at the end of the day, it’s critical that the foundational components of your home are in great shape if you hope to get top dollar when you’re selling.

Ask yourself:

  • Is my roof solid and up to code?
  • How old is my furnace?
  • When was the last time my air conditioning system was replaced?

If you’re wondering if higher-ticket improvements like this will add value to your home . . . the answer is yes. You know the old adage, “You need to spend money to make money?” Well, when it comes to ensuring the foundational integrity of your home, it’s pretty much always true.

I always tell my clients that the surest way to lose a sale is to leave repairs and updates for the buyer. This can be easily avoided.

If you’re getting ready to sell, take a few days to walk through your entire home and make a thorough list of things that might need fixing or improving. Note which projects are easy DIY improvements versus those that you think will be more expensive and might take a professional. Last, ask your agent to help you prioritize your improvement list—focusing on items that are sure to provide the strongest return on your investment.


30% of sellers are worried most about determining what improvements, if any, to make to help sell the home.

SOURCE: survey 


Do a complete and thorough walk-through of your home and add these to your possible list of repairs as you do a thorough and complete walk through of your home


  • Scuffs, marks and other blemishes on your floors, doors, walls, ceilings, baseboards, and inside closets and cupboards
  • Broken or worn down appliances like dishwashers, ovens and ranges
  • Broken window seals, door knobs, hinges and locks
  • Safety hazards: broken stairs or handrails, loose electrical wiring
  • Worn out hardwood floors
  • Missing or broken baseboards
  • Broken light switches and burnt out lightbulbs
  • Leaky or broken toilets and sinks
  • Missing or broken tiles in the kitchen and bathroom


  • Worn down or ill-fitted siding on the exterior of your house
  • Poorly functioning garage doors
  • Safety hazards: uneven sidewalks, large cracks in cement, broken stairs or handrails
  • Moss growth on the roof and missing shingles
  • Broken or missing fence boards


About the Author

Corey Boldt is the owner and heart of the Double Boldt Real Estate team. As a lifelong resident of Wauwatosa, Corey couldn’t imagine raising her family in any other community, and nothing feels more at home to her than working with the people directly in and surrounding this area. With 15 years of experience in sales management and 5 years of experience in residential real estate, Corey has the business background needed for negotiating contracts and the realty expertise wanted to find your dream home. Corey works with you through every step of the process—buying, selling, staging—to deliver consistent results and help you find exactly what you’re looking for in a home.

About Double Boldt Real Estate

Double Boldt Real Estate is a proud affiliate of Keller Williams and is located in the heart of Wauwatosa. The team at Double Boldt has deep knowledge of the Wauwatosa, Elm Grove and Brookfield real estate markets, and have more than 15 years of experience buying, selling and staging homes, as well prospecting and negotiating. To learn more about Double Boldt Real Estate, visit