What Not to Update or Fix Before Selling Your Home

Not every part of your home needs to be in perfect condition before it hits the market. These are the updates you don't have to make before you list it, according to real estate agents.

If you're preparing to put your house up for sale, you likely have several things on your to-do list. From cleaning every room from top to bottom to staging your house, there are several steps involved in the process, including making a few updates to get your home ready to sell. While certain changes can be worthwhile (think: a fresh coat of paint to brighten up a room), others end up being costly and unnecessary when it comes to attracting buyers. To help you save time and money, we tapped real estate experts to share what not to fix when selling your home.

Make a Plan With Your Real Estate Agent

If you aren't sure what changes you should (or shouldn't) make when prepping your home for sale, turn to your real estate agent for guidance, says Scott Bergmann, an agent with Realty ONE Group in Omaha, Neb. "I advise [clients] to focus on making updates that will give them the most return on their investment," he says.

modern kitchen and dining room with light fixtures

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Updates You Should Make

One worthwhile update is painting your home, says Joanna Mayfield Marks, a licensed associate real estate broker at Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales, LLC. "For interiors, I prefer light and bright [colors] to expand the space and create a [clean] feeling," she says. "Hues such as [Benjamin Moore's] Simply White, Decorator's White, or a basic primer such as Benjamin Moore's Ultra Spec 500 are ideal."

Speaking of primer: If you don't want to commit to choosing a color (that a buyer might change anyway) and painting your whole house, consider simply priming your walls—plus the ceiling and moldings, too—instead. "The return on investment for this small improvement is usually three times the cost and minimizes days on the market which has additional value," Mayfield says. 

Other worth-it changes your agent might suggest will likely include fixing broken items. Be sure to repair things like dripping faucets, slow drains, locks, and sticking doors, says Kristina ODonnell, an agent with Realty ONE Group.

What Not to Fix When Selling a Home

While there are several affordable and value-boosting updates you should make before you sell, others may just end up costing you in the end. This is what the experts say not to fix or update before you put your house up for sale. 


home laundry room with washing machine

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 Appliances like refrigerators and washers and dryers don't need to be upgraded unless they are in poor working condition or very outdated, says Bergmann. Potential buyers usually focus more on the layout of the kitchen or laundry room rather than the appliances themselves.  


When prepping your home for sale, you may look to make updates outside, too—but skip fixing the driveway. "As long as the driveway is in good condition and free of major cracks or potholes, there may be no need to replace it," says Bergmann. "Buyers are more interested in the overall condition and location of the home than the specific features of the driveway."

Major Room Remodels

Major kitchen or bathroom renovations are typically not recommended. These remodels tend to involve expensive, customized choices, says Joanna Mayfield Marks. Plus, the time and labor it takes to complete the projects could end up costing you even more. "Many fun real estate shows brag about the home renovation transformation and their flashy new sticker price, but few break down the actual carrying and renovation costs," says Mayfield Marks. 

If you feel the need to make substantial updates to a room, focus on things that will draw in a potential buyer, says Bergmann. For example, add new countertops or cabinets to a kitchen instead of revamping the entire space. These changes will make the room more attractive without breaking the bank.

Home Technology

Smart home technology, ranging from doorbells to speakers, are trendy and useful, but they may not be necessary to attract buyers, says Bergmann. "Unless the home is very outdated in terms of technology, it may not be worth the investment to upgrade," he says.


If the windows in your home are in solid condition, don't feel the need to update them. Follow Bergmann's rule of thumb: If features are still in good working order, there is likely no need to replace them. 


golden faucet and black sink in home kitchen

Joe Hendrickson / GETTY IMAGES

It's also not necessary to update fixtures throughout your home (think: light fixtures or sink faucets—though, you should fix the latter if they drip!). These are cosmetic details that buyers will update when they purchase your home. "I have had many buyers say they don't want to pay for another person's renovation, which I think is a polite way of saying they don't value someone else's personal preferences,” says Mayfield Marks.

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