To update or not to update? This is a question that plagues many home sellers. Getting ready to sell your home can be a scary and expensive process. Most sellers want to get the most money as they can for their home without spending much. There are many reasons for this.

  • They may want to save money for the next place.
  • The potential buyer might not like the finishes the seller picks.
  • The seller might not get an even return on his investment.

Sometimes the seller gets lucky and a buyer with a vision to make the home his own comes to the space prepared to do the necessary work. But, if the seller is counting on this he is cutting out the entire market who does not want to do any work on the home.

As a study let’s look at two properties that closed in the fall of 2014. These are both 2b/2ba, 1250 sq/ft homes in 400 E Randolph.

Floor Closed Price Market Time
13 Oct 2 $338,000 109
21 Sept 26 $460,000 29

That’s a sold price difference of $122,000! The one on the 21st floor is 8 stories higher than the 13th floor, but that’s not a difference that commands $100k in price! The biggest difference in these homes is the finishes.

These condos were built in 1963, so both units have been at least partially updated. Let’s look at the differences. In each example the home on the 13th floor is on top and the same room on the 21st floor is on bottom.


The baths on the 21st floor have been completely updated. While the 13th floor has newer countertops the tiled floor is old and one bathroom still has mirrored cabinetry and a hotel style layout.


It’s hard to say from these pictures whether any walls were moved in the kitchen and dining area of the home on 21, but with the wood floors and bright paint the room looks brighter.


The kitchen was clearly gutted and rebuilt on 21. Wood floors, a backsplash, and nicer appliances give the kitchen an elegance that 13 can’t have with mismatched appliances and a linoleum floor.


Removing the mirrored walls and adding wood floors in the living room make the room seem larger in the expensive home.

As a seller you may not have the funds to make all the changes your home needs and you might not see a full return if you make the improvements immediately before selling, but it might be worth the investment to at least remove outdated styles such as mirrored walls. In this case the sellers who went all out with renovations left the table 80 days sooner and $122,000 richer than the sellers who only made a few improvements.

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