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In our two decades of selling homes in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most common questions our seller clients ask is how to get the most ROI (return on investment) via presale home improvements and repairs. Understandably, San Francisco home sellers want to maximize their bottom line in their transaction!

Now, not all home improvement projects lead to a big ROI boost (many won’t even recoup your money spent). But there are some strategic presale improvements that consistently net a bump in sale price that exceeds their cost, often by a lot.

ROI Boosting Home Improvements in San Francisco

At the top of the list of these high-ROI presale home improvements in San Francisco are staging, cleaning, lighting, landscaping and painting. Note how these don’t include major remodels like reconfiguring a floor plan, or new amenities like adding a hot tub — the best ROI-boosting presale home improvements in San Francisco tend to be straightforward and cosmetic.

If your home is in need of some repairs (but not a total fixer-upper), then getting those items fixed before hitting the market can also be a worthy expenditure to help put buyers’ minds at ease.

Case Study: Presale Home Improvements to an SF Condo

Our recent sale of 964 Page Street is a prime example of how strategic home improvements prior to listing can ultimately lead to a big boost in sale price.

This top-floor Victorian condo in the Lower Haight/Hayes Valley area of San Francisco already had an amazing location and a fair amount of updates in the past few years. To make attract more buyers and better offers, our listing experts at Danielle Lazier Real Estate and Vivre Real Estate recommended and coordinated a few key cosmetic improvements.

Painting

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Take a look at how the living room and these awesome built-ins were transformed! Painting is one of the most common and dramatic ROI presale home improvements we do in San Francisco.

before and after pictures of 964 Page Street condo improvements
This living room had tons of character, and painting helped to freshen it up and tie it all together.
Before/after image of presale ROI home improvements to a San Francisco living room
The built-ins were a key feature of the room, so we helped them stand out with a different color selection.

Staging

When a buyer sees photos or visits your listing, we want them to immediately imagine all the possibilities in their future happy home. This is infinitely easier to accomplish when the listing is expertly equipped with stylish yet neutral furniture and decor that appeals to the widest range of buyer tastes.

Inside and out, we worked with our stagers to make 964 Page Street a very inviting space that buyers wouldn’t want to leave.

Collage of presale ROI home improvements and staging in a San Francisco
We worked with our staging vendors to furnish this Victorian condo with stylish decor to make every space cozy and inviting.

Cosmetic Renovations

Certain renovations can be a big draw for buyers, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. These spaces host lots of stuff, like appliances, fixtures and finishes, that can all begin to look outdated (compared to a bedroom, for instance, which is mostly four walls and furniture).

In the kitchen of this condo, we recommended that our sellers update the countertops, as well as apply some fresh paint to get it looking beautiful and contemporary.

Before/after image of presale ROI home improvements to a San Francisco kitchen
Contrasting light quartz countertops and upper cabinets with dark lower cabinets enhances the kitchen’s sense of light and space.

Lighting

As a quick note, you’ll notice in the photos above that we also updated the light fixtures in some of the rooms. In the grand scheme of things, new light fixtures are a very minor expense — anywhere from under $100 to a few hundred dollars — and they can make a huge difference in making a space feel modern and bright.

Landscaping

Especially these days, you can’t sleep on a home’s exterior. Homebuyers are looking for outdoor space now more than ever before.

For this listing with a spacious shared yard, we recommended the basics of cleaning up the landscaping, adding new mulch and some new plants, and adding outdoor furniture to demonstrate how this great exterior space could be enjoyed by a buyer. As a seller with a yard, you don’t have to create a magical outdoor paradise before listing your home, but getting things neat and tidy makes a big difference.

before and after image of presale ROI home improvements to a San Francisco backyard
We cleaned up the existing landscaping and added new plants, mulch and furniture to make this large, shared yard an outdoor sanctuary.

Marketing Media (Photos and Video)

We have to state the obvious: improvements or not, these “After” photos look a whole lot better than the “Before” photos!

No matter what kind of ROI improvements you do with your home, you absolutely need professional photos to market your listing effectively! In addition to wonderful stagers, painters and other vendors, we maintain great relationships with some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top real estate photographers.

Why do all this work if you’re not going to show it off in its best light?

The End Result: Presale ROI home improvements in San Francisco

So, how much did all this cost, and how did it turn out when the home was sold?

The grand total for all these presale improvements was around $50,000. That may sound like a crazy amount… until you learn what the home sold for.

Originally listed at $1.195M, 964 Page Street received many competitive offers. We helped our seller to navigate this multi-offer situation and ultimately negotiate a closing price of $1.525M.

Based on comparable sales, we estimate that the $50k in presale improvements led to at least $200k in higher market value.

The moral of the story? Strategic presale home improvements to a San Francisco real estate listing absolutely do make a difference. To make the most of these improvements, and ultimately of your home sale, it takes a keen eye on the market and buyer tastes. It also takes a robust network of trustworthy, quality vendors to perform the work, and an experienced team to manage it all (so you don’t have to!).

Options for San Francisco Home Sellers

You might be thinking, “Well, I don’t have $50k to spend on improving my home!” That’s often the case for sellers with wealth tied up in home equity. Fortunately, we have a solution for that too.

Along with our partners at Side and Revive Concierge, we will work with you to set up a no-interest loan to finance ROI-enhancing improvements which can be paid back via close of escrow. You can learn more about that process here.

And — importantly — none of this means you CAN’T sell your home without making improvements first. We have helped plenty of sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area who either didn’t have the time or the desire to make these home updates before going on-market. Presale improvements are just one piece of our overall listing strategy that includes marketing, networking, strategic pricing and much more.

That said, it is almost always the case that specific presale improvements will net you a greater return on investment when selling your home in the SF Bay Area. If getting the most net money from your home sale is your top priority, then you will definitely want to explore your options.

Get in touch!

If you are considering selling your home, please reach out any time to schedule a no-pressure consultation. We are always happy to discuss your options and offer some initial ideas about how to make the most of your home sale.

To jump-start the process, fill out our Seller Worksheet here. Or you can always reach out via phone, email or contact form to run a question by us.

And you can stay up to date on our latest informational blog posts, local real estate news, events and culture by signing up for the twice-monthly Vivre Real Estate newsletter! We never share or sell your information.

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