Here’s what to fix before you sell your house

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Courtesy of STCU

You’ve lived with those ugly kitchen countertops for a decade. Should you replace them now that you’re ready to sell your house? That’s not a simple yes or no question, says Scott Thompson, a certified real estate appraiser whose work has taken him inside hundreds of homes in the Spokane area.

Thompson doesn’t put much faith in across-the-board industry estimates of the resale value for specific home improvements designed to attract buyers. Rather, he suggests sellers take an objective look at their property in relationship to others on surrounding blocks.

“For the best value, aim for a house that is up to neighborhood standards but not the fanciest house on the block,” Thompson says. “Take the middle path.”

In a high-end neighborhood that might mean tackling significant improvement projects. Typically, though, the best use of dollars is to freshen what you have, because “buyers don’t want a house that feels worn out.”

“It’s the boring stuff like paint and carpets that gets you the most bang for the buck” when it comes time to sell, Thompson says. “Bigger home improvements don’t return as much in value, generally speaking.”

Bigger home improvements don’t return as much in value, generally speaking.

Scott Thompson, real estate appraiser

Of course, remodeling isn’t strictly about dollars and cents unless resale is in the immediate future. Real estate appraisers say it’s perfectly valid to consider “value in use,” meaning investing in a home to improve its livability and comfort.

NOTE: A version of this article first appeared in the 2019 Liberty Lake Yearbook.

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