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Selling Your House? Pros Reveal the 4 Things You Don’t Need to Fix to Save Time + Money

Plus, the low-cost fixes that can make a big difference

Selling a house is considered one of the top three most stressful life events, and part of that is due to trying to ensure your house looks its best for potential buyers. You’ve likely already made a long list of things you need to fix as a result, and you may think it’s not even worth trying to sell because of all the money you have to spend to get your house in shape. But luckily for you we asked real estate experts what not to fix when selling a house and they narrowed down some of the repairs and updates you can skip to make your job a little easier and cheaper.

What not to fix when selling a house

If you’re preparing to sell your home in the near future, you might be feeling overwhelmed. It can seem like there are a million different to-dos to get done before it’ll be ready to put on the market. But before you grab a sledgehammer to demo that outdated bathroom, read on for some of the tips real estate experts have to share on what is and isn’t worthy of your time.

1. Skip the bathroom and kitchen renovation

These are the two biggest selling points in most homes — and it makes sense, since these are rooms that need to perform specific functions and are some of the most frequently used living spaces. And there was a time when it was considered standard practice to update both before putting a house on the market — but those times have changed, says real estate agent Paige Robinson, owner of House Buyers.

“Frankly, many buyers these days don’t want a recently renovated bathroom or kitchen,” Robinson explains. “When homeowners re-do these rooms for resale, they tend to wind up looking ‘flipped’ — where updates were made based on the latest trends, or are done as inexpensively as possible to add polish, but without the same level of care you might invest if you were planning to live there and use them long-term.”

Another benefit to this? “While you may need to drop the selling price a bit to accommodate for outdated designs, in the end you will likely wind up saving money because kitchen and bathroom renovations have a habit of going waaay over budget or uncovering issues you wouldn’t have otherwise had to repair yourself,” Robinson adds.

What to do instead

women replaces drawer knobs after learning What Not to Fix When Selling a House
Grace Cary/Getty

“One of my go-to inexpensive fixes for kitchens and baths is to replace drawer and cabinet pulls,” says Marty Zankich, owner of Chamberlin Real Estate School. “It’s amazing how switching out an outdated silver drawer pull can update your entire kitchen vibe, and it is an easy DIY job anyone can do.”

Related: 5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen on the Cheap

Other fixes the experts recommend include repainting cabinets, replacing outdated light fixtures and eliminating clutter, the latter of which includes stashing bath and body products instead of leaving them on your vanity and putting smaller appliances like toasters and blenders in cabinets to create the illusion of more counter space.

2. Skip these cosmetic changes

Scuffed hardwood floors, stains on the wall-to-wall carpet, outdated wallpaper treatments. Cosmetic issues in a home may seem like a no-brainer to fix, but in truth some are smarter repairs than others.

“Always focus on the changes that will give you the most bang for your buck,” says licensed realtor Joy Aumann, CIPS, co-founder of La Jolla Life. “Outright replacing wood floors or carpet can be pricey — and not always worth it since you risk potential buyers not liking the finish or carpet you choose.”

What to do instead

If your wood floors are looking a little worse for wear, try giving them a coat of floor restorer, which can often get them looking like new again all for less than $20. Two to try: Weiman Hardwood Polish & Restorer, or Rejuvenate Professional Wood Floor Restorer.

If they’re too scuffed for that, getting the floors professionally refinished typically costs between $5-$10 per square foot and can make all but the most damaged wood floors look like new again. You can also try refinishing them yourself by renting a sander at your local hardware store.

See how-to in the TikTok from @jobart102 here:


Sand, Stain, and Refinish this 60 year old hardwood floor. #hardwoodflooring #diy #diyproject #diyflooring #refinish #hardwood

♬ Sia – Xeptemper

With carpet stains, consider calling in a professional cleaning company and if they can’t banish all the stains, cover them with area rugs that — bonus! — you can take with you when you move.

Related: The Best Ways To Remove Rust Stains From Clothes and Carpet — And Why You Should Never Use Bleach

“Last, look for other inexpensive cosmetic fixes,” says Lori Matzke, founder and president of Home Staging Experts. “Wallpaper rarely ages well, and while removing it might seem like a tedious chore, it’s something you can do yourself and it can be well worth the time spent on the project.” (Click through to learn how to remove wallpaper by yourself!)

Plus, she adds, “Large, heavy drapes and swags are also not a good seller — most buyers prefer light and airy rooms, so heavy drapes should be removed. Last, painting everything a nice, soft neutral color will make the entire space feel larger, brighter and creates a nice, easy flow from room to room. Fresh paint is preferred by most homebuyers today, and can give a tired space a nice, fresh feel. For walls, stick with flat and matte finishes as satin, semi-gloss and glossy paints tend to show more imperfections, or even a poor painting technique if you aren’t a professional.”

3. Skip driveway maintenance

Making a home appear inviting before buyers even walk through the front door can go a long way toward securing a high selling price — but again, you want to approach this with a “return on costs” mentality.

“A driveway with a few cracks or small potholes isn’t going to make the difference between a sale and a non-sale in the majority of cases,” says Zankich. “And re-paving an entire driveway is going to set you back thousands that you simply aren’t going to recoup when it comes time to set your sale price.”

What to do instead

“Power washing is surprisingly effective at brightening walkways and the driveway and you can either rent a washer to do on your own or pay for a service, which shouldn’t cost too much,” says real estate expert Jim Olenbush, founder of AustinRealEstate. “Add some pots of flowers by the front door to draw the eye and add a pop of color. And if needed, a fresh coat of paint on the trim or front door livens things up affordably.”

Related: 4 Easy Ways to Prep Your Yard for Spring — And They Save You Money Too!

If you’re looking to power-wash your home, check out these simple tips from @allsidespressurewashing:

4. Skip these upgrades

Solar panels, new appliances, revamped electrical — these investments may look nice on paper, but often they’re not worth emptying your wallet for.

“It is really not worth investing in something like solar or energy-efficient appliances before placing your house on the market,” says real estate expert Ryan Carrigan, founder of “These are not cheap and it’s difficult to transfer the costs to home buyers.”

As for appliances, “The rule is, if it still works, there is no need to replace,” adds Carrigan. “It can be restrictively expensive to replace items like refrigerators, ovens and washers and most homeowners won’t care enough to warrant the cost. In fact, these days some people are even seeking out older appliances because they view them as more reliable.”

Related: The Best Time to Buy Home Appliances So You Can Save 40% or More: Savings Experts

What to do instead

woman gets a home inspector after reading What Not to Fix When Selling a House
Grace Cary/Getty

“Get your home inspected, then see what small fixes and repairs you can make,” says real estate professional Jim Gray, coach at Agent Advice. “Things like loose outlets and broken light switches can be incredibly cheap to repair, even if you need to hire someone to do it, and will make your home look more ‘trustworthy’ to potential buyers.”

If your home needs something major: say, all new electrical, or a significant repair based on updated building codes, foundation issues or termite damage, these are issues that are going to come up when buyers do their own inspection anyway. If you know in advance, you can put your home on the market “as-is” while disclosing the problem, or you can shop around for your own repair person and hopefully score a deal that you can offset via your eventual listing price.

For more money tips, click through the links below!

4 Easy Ways to Prep Your Yard for Spring — And They Save You Money Too!

Does Unplugging Appliances Save Electricity? How to Cut Your Utility Bill by $200

The Best Time to Buy Home Appliances So You Can Save 40% or More: Savings Experts

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