Top kitchen fixes

Kitchens sell houses. It is as real now as it's ever been. You can expect to get offers up to $10,000 higher with an updated kitchen. You can also expect to get back about 85% of your original investment if you upgrade.

However, not just any new kitchen will sell a house fast and for more money. It has to have mass appeal. The last thing a prospective buyer wants to see is a new kitchen they can tell cost thousands of dollars, but which is not neutral.

The truth is, people have different taste. Your Moroccan-themed mosaic backsplash may make your heart flutter, but if a future buyer doesn't like it, she will see a hassle in her future.

What Most Buyers Want In A Kitchen

You may look at the numbers above and think it's not worth updating for a mere 85% return on your investment, but hold on. It's not always necessary to gut everything and start from scratch to make your kitchen the main selling point of your home.

Consider doing a few of these most critical fixes:

Wood Floors

One of the most essential surfaces for buyers in your entire home is the floor. Wood floors sell homes too, but especially wood floors in the kitchen. If you live in an older house, consider checking to see if a wood floor may be hiding under layers of linoleum. If you don’t have wood floors, and you don't have the budget for real hardwoods, ceramic or vinyl tile might be in your future.

There are so many wood-look products on the market that are durable, beautiful and easy to install. This one change could make a massive impact on prospective buyers.

Granite Countertops

What was once considered a luxury item is now regarded as standard in most homes. Yes, granite countertops do come at a higher price. Solid surface countertops - like Quartz - can come at an even higher price tag. But the truth is that Formica countertops just won't cut it. A prospective buyer looks at those cheap counters and mentally adds up the expense of switching them out. He or she is much more likely to accept the cost of the counters being included in a higher price for the house.

One other tip: neutral granite counters are always a huge selling point. No matter how beautiful you think it is, don't pick something flashy that a buyer won't want to accept.

Painted Cabinets

Good news: you don't have to replace your cabinets to get a return on your money. Painting them can go a long way. Paint doesn't cost nearly as much as granite countertops, but it can really transform a dated kitchen. Crisp white cabinets in place of dated and dingy - or just builder grade - make a kitchen look new.

Paint the Walls

This is an often-forgotten solution for the kitchen since most of a kitchen is covered in cabinetry and tile, but don't forget the walls! Paint the walls a beautiful color to offset the cabinets and countertop. It will give your kitchen the extra-new feeling it needs to sell your house.

New Cabinet Hardware & Sink

What if your cabinets are not dingy and they aren't builder-grade? It might not make sense to paint them if the wood is beautiful, especially if they were custom-built for your kitchen. You might consider changing your woodland-themed knobs to something updated and neutral. Brass knobs and pulls are a modern choice with a classic look.

Neutral Backsplash

A tile backsplash is such a personal choice. Maybe your prospective buyers absolutely hate white subway tile, but chances are much higher that most of them won't. You want something that makes your kitchen look new, clean, and neutral. So consider replacing the themed backsplash as a way to make your kitchen sell itself.

Updated Lighting

Does your kitchen feel like a cave? Is it too dark where it counts the most? Chances are good that if you don't have enough lighting there, your buyers will notice it. Consider updating and adding more lighting where your kitchen needs more.

Stage & Clean

The very best, and free, way to make your kitchen sell itself? Stage it like the rest of your house. Clean all the corners, nooks, and crannies. Take away most of the stuff you have sitting on your counters. Yes, that includes the appliances. If you have to, put them in a storage bin and hide them away. You want just enough out to make buyers feel like they could live there. They don't actually want to see you living there if you know what I mean. A bowl of fruit and a few props should be all you need. Your real estate agent can give you some helpful pointers.

Conclusion

With a couple of small - or maybe one significant - changes to your kitchen, you may be on your way to selling fast and for more than what you were hoping for!