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Ask Will: Should I Invest In Updates Before I Sell?

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: I currently own a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo that was built in the late 1990’s and I’m thinking about selling it to upgrade to a larger space. Some of my appliances are from the early 2000’s and the water heater is original. Should I pay the money to update the appliances before I sell?

A: This is a great question with a few factors to consider before moving forward. When it comes to adding updates to a property prior to selling costs are a big factor. Ask yourself: “Am I going to get a return on investment for the updates I am making?”

Depending on the kind of updates you’re considering you try can estimate the return. For example, if I spend $15,000 on all new appliances and I want to sell my place for top dollar, but the other similarly updated condos in the building are going for much less than my target price it’s probably not a good idea. However, if you’ve budgeted $5000 for new repairs it might make sense to offer it as a credit to a potential buyer so they can select the appliances based on their preferences. You can also get creative by giving the buyer options for updates they could purchase after closing along with the pricing.

Another question I often hear is: “Do I paint before I sell?” If you decide to paint prior to selling make sure to pick neutral colors. It’s also a good idea to stay on the lighter side for small spaces, like a one bedroom. The same goes for new carpet. Depending on the condition, like appliances, it might be a good idea to offer a credit to the buyer for new carpet, as well as paint and other updates.

To everyone in the ARLnow community — it’s been a true pleasure writing and connecting with you over these last few months. As I move into a new role in the real estate industry, I am passing this column along to my colleague and friend, Eli Tucker, who will continue to answer your questions and add a fresh voice and perspective.

I’m hoping some readers can share any additional advice they have in comments.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please send your questions to Eli at [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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