At Home: Low-cost updates boost home’s selling power

In: Home offices; out: formal dining rooms

Ivan Weichert, president and CEO of Topeka Home Builders Association

It may have been a great house to start with, but now you’re thinking it may be time to list it. Before you put the property on the market, though, consider sprucing up the old place.


According to Topeka Home Builders Association CEO Ivan Weichert, you can give your home a facelift without draining your bank account by doing a few fairly simple things.

Weichert recently shared suggestions to help homeowners get the most response from potential buyers and the best return on their investment.

Q: What are some key things a homeowner can do to help sell their house?

Weichert: One important thing is to maximize livable space.

Q: For example?

Weichert: For starters, most families today seldom use a formal dining room. Consider turning it into viable living space by creating an office. Once considered a luxury, home offices are now more of a necessity. An increasing number of families have more than one person employed and more people are working from home.

Q: So staging a formal dining room as an office would help people see how it could better fit their lifestyles. That makes sense and it doesn’t seem like it would be an expensive makeover.

Weichert: The main thing is to have good lighting, sufficient electrical outlets and provide internet connections. It doesn’t have to be a converted dining room, of course. It can be any lesser-used part of your home. And if you have an unfinished basement, finishing it is the most economical way of creating significantly more usable living space, which adds value to your home.

Q: Open concept is all the rage today. If you have a home with designated rooms, is knocking down a wall likely to add value? Or, do you think open concept is a passing trend?

Weichert: I think it’s a trend that’s here to stay. The idea of a formal dining room or a formal living room, for that matter, doesn’t hit it anymore. They’re greatly under-used spaces. If a wall can be moved without impacting the structure, it’s a good idea and a real way to add value.

Q: What else can help attract buyers?

Weichert: Replacing old windows. Most homes built before 1970 likely need them. Old windows are the major cause of energy loss and energy efficiency is always a selling point. By the way, if your home has storm windows, they need to be replaced. Storm windows were installed in older homes to specifically help reduce energy loss. So, if you have storm windows, you know your windows are inefficient.

If your roof is seven to 10 years old and you can afford to replace it, you should. Buyers like to know that’s something they won’t have to deal with. Replacing the roof may not make you extra money, but you’ll get back the money you spent and it will make the house more enticing to potential buyers.

Q: What about remodeling the kitchen and bathroom? Aren’t they a couple of the biggest ways to add value to your home

Weichert: If you don’t go overboard.

Don’t try to make it into your dream kitchen. It may not be the buyer’s dream kitchen. But do give it a facelift.

Replace handles and lighting fixtures. If countertops are old, consider replacing them.

It’s easier than you might think. By the way, it isn’t necessary to spend the money on granite or quartz.

There are high-quality, attractive laminate countertops available today. Modern appliances are a good idea. And, if you have wallpaper, remove it.

Same with the bathrooms. Wallpaper and carpeting need to go. There are good, low-cost, nice-looking solutions for replacing bad flooring. And a fresh coat of neutral paint goes a long way.

Q: What about enhancing curb appeal?

Weichert: One of the most inexpensive ways to increase curb appeal is landscaping.

Buy a few plants from a home improvement store and put them in your yard. And don’t forget a fresh coat of paint for the outside of your house.

That can make all the difference.

Liz Montano is a freelance writer from Topeka. She can be reached at (785) 230-3907 or


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