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When and How to Make Home Improvements to Increase Your Sales Price [Insights from Realtor® Steven Cozza]

Headshot of Steven Cozza on top of image of someone cutting a board.Whether you’re upgrading to something bigger, moving cities for work, or need different amenities, there’s a lot that goes into the decision to sell your house. 

With so many factors already involved in the process, making upgrades and improvements to your home is probably the last thing you want to take on.

But in many cases, investing some time and money in home improvements before you sell can fetch you a higher selling price and help you close your home sale faster. 

We talked with Sonoma County-based Realtor® Steven Cozza with The Cozza Team about the what, why, and how of making home improvements before selling your house.  

Here are his key insights for sellers.

SOMO Village: What’s the first thing sellers need to consider to optimize their home’s value and sales price? 

Steven Cozza: There are two buckets to consider when it comes to making improvements to your home before selling. The first bucket involves things that pertain to the structure and integrity of your home, and the second bucket pertains to aesthetics and functionality.

So, your starting point should be to get a home inspection. It’s something buyers want to see and it will tell you the kind of work you absolutely need to do as far as the structure and integrity of your home. 

For example, a pest inspection is going to reveal anything under “Section 1,” which includes wood-destroying organisms. While it’s common to have some pest damage, too much is a big problem. You can’t just ignore it and paint over destroyed wood to hide it. 

These types of things can seriously impact the value of your home. 

If you get an inspection before selling your house and you discover issues that need to be fixed, you can either:

  1. Do the work on your own and ensure it’s reflected in your selling price
  2. Disclose any issues to prospective buyers and reduce your asking price accordingly

But the worst thing you can do is to avoid completing an inspection because, if a buyer discovers these issues on their own, they can work with their agent to adjust the sale price or demand credits once an offer has been made and both parties are bound.

Transparency is the best policy.

On the other hand, proactively conducting aesthetic and functional upgrades to your home before selling it can help you sell your home faster and command a much higher selling price.

These upgrades really are an investment.

What kind of aesthetic and functional improvements can sellers make to increase their sale price and sell their homes faster? 

Woman painting the wallIt depends on a few factors including the condition or state of the home and personal factors like your timeline, budget, and energy to complete projects. 

We always try to get sellers to paint the interior if they can, especially if they have non-neutral colors. White is always a good, neutral color to choose for a revamped look. We also often advise updating the floors, as that can make a big impact on the look of a home. 

Then, if the home is in good condition, sellers should always consider staging the home—especially if they’re not living there. 

Staging is a way to neutralize the house so that the buyer can picture themselves in it. And if you have a dated home (think 1970s wallpaper), good staging can help distract from that and help increase your sales price.

Beyond these small updates and staging, you can make larger upgrades such as kitchen or bathroom renovations. You have to evaluate how much you want to put in before selling it. What kind of return are you going to get? 

It’s important to lean on your real estate advisor or agent to help you decide what’s worth doing and what’s not worth doing—there is a line between too much and not enough. 

How do you calculate the return on investment of making home improvements before selling?  

Some of the items that add the most value or have the highest return on investment (ROI) are: 

  • Interior and exterior paint
  • Remodeled kitchens
  • Upgraded front doors and garage doors
  • Increased curb appeal

We always consider these things alongside the timeline you’re working with. Say you need to move in April and it’s already January or February—redoing your kitchens and bathrooms is going to take some time. It might make more sense to go with painting and staging to get it on the market quicker. 

Each person’s situation is different, which determines what you’re able to do. That said, a home is most people’s biggest asset, so it’s worth putting some effort and money into it to increase the sales price. 

If you work with The Cozza Team to sell your house, our Compass Concierge program pays for upgrade costs upfront and you pay us back at the close of escrow through the equity you get from the sale. 

We’ve worked with clients who were advised by other agents to list their homes immediately for, say, $699,999. We come in and evaluate it, decide to invest around $25,000 in upgrades, and can sell the home for $100,000 more—netting the client $60,000+ in profit.

We’ll always give you an estimate on what the home could sell for as-is, what it could sell for with bare minimum upgrades (paint and staging), and what it could sell for with more extensive upgrades. We also offer timelines for these options so you can make an informed decision. 

What else do sellers need to know about investing in these upgrades? 

Man cutting a piece of wood with a power sawI like to tell people not to think about it as an expense—it’s an investment. This isn’t just throwing money to the wind because we’re investing in upgrades that will definitely get you a return. 

Sellers shouldn’t just be giving money to an agent to list your home. Your agent should offer value that gets a return on your investment. We work with sellers and their unique situations to recommend the best investments that will get a return—whether it’s a simple fresh coat of paint or something more extensive. 


If you want to connect with Steven, visit his website at www.cozzateam.com or contact his team directly. You can also check out their comprehensive home seller’s guide to learn more about putting your house on the market.  

Learn more about Sonoma County’s best presale homebuying opportunity. 

If you’d like to learn about presale homes in Sonoma County, download our project brief to find out why SOMO Village might be the perfect community for you. 

Steven Cozza, realtor in Sonoma CountyAbout Steven Cozza 

Steven spent nearly a decade racing bikes professionally in Europe. As a former elite professional cyclist, Steven has the mental stamina, tenacity, and brilliance to make the buying and selling process an attainable reality for his clients. Steven excels in the local market with buyers and sellers and surpasses the yearly sales average of Sonoma and Marin County Realtors. Native to the area, he is a valuable resource. With his never-give-up attitude paired with the Compass go-above-and-beyond standards, Steven gives his clients 120% of his efforts. From urban condos to countryside estates, Steven treats each property with premium marketing services and a precisely focused strategy.

Clients have shared that they chose Steven to help with their real estate needs because of his real estate knowledge, cutting-edge marketing strategies, his passion to give back to the community, and most of all, his genuine character.

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