Home Sellers Spill: 'The Home Upgrade I Wish I'd Done Sooner'

Cathie Ericson

If you’re like most homeowners, your house is a host of tiny irritations you keep meaning to fix but never do. Maybe it’s a light fixture you constantly bang your head on, or wallpaper you’ve always despised. And then one day you decide it’s time to sell the house. And what do you do? You replace the light fixture. You strip the wallpaper. And then you stand back and think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”

We feel your pain—and, in an effort to spur you to act now, we decided to ask fellow homeowners what little inconvenience they had put up with for far too long, and regretted waiting to improve until it was time to sell the house.

Let this inspire you to carpe diem and finally get rid of that @*#$&% low-hanging light fixture. And then you can be the one saying, "I'm so glad I did that" sooner rather than later!

Solar panels

“We installed solar panels one year before we sold, so not only did we not get to reap the full benefits of the solar itself, but we had to cut a big check out of escrow to pay off the installation loan. We wish we’d done them earlier, but we're still glad we did—it absolutely was a selling point for the buyer and made for a quick listing.” – Carey Madill, Clements, CA

A walk-in closet

“I recently sold a home, and I decided to build a walk-in closet in the master bedroom to add a little cachet. All of a sudden, we had tons of room for all of our clothes and shoes—and the whole room felt more orderly! Now that I’ve moved, I’ve already made a few changes to my house, because I realized there is no reason to wait.” – Alex Tran, Seattle, WA

Gas-powered fireplaces

“Before moving out of my home of 23 years, I had great gas logs professionally installed in my two fireplaces. They had remote-control starters and dimmers that set the mood and broadcast the heat nicely. Wow! I can’t even describe the ambiance and coziness of an instant, clean, controlled, roaring fire. I hope the new owners enjoy them as much as I briefly did.” – Nancy Cramer, Dallas, TX

Tile instead of carpet

An outdoor dining area

“The main thing I regret not doing sooner was cleaning up the backyard. A few months before we moved out, I decided to make our overgrown patio hospitable—and honestly it wasn’t even that hard. I pressure-washed the tiles and installed a new barbecue, along with a table with six seats. I can tell you that was the best summer our family ever had, spending it mostly outside in the fresh air.” – Bryan Stoddard, Jersey City, NJ

Bye-bye, pink bathroom

“It took me seven years to finally deal with our hideous, '80s-esque pink master bathroom. We kept putting it off because we thought, 'Hey, nobody can see it, so who cares?' But we knew we had to update it before putting our house on the market. We refinished the painted pink tile to a bright white and swapped out pink floor tile with plank flooring. I seriously couldn’t believe how much happier we were waking up to that.” – Laura Burton, Los Angeles, CA

We painted wood white

“My washing machine and dryer are located in my back entranceway, and about 15 years ago, we added wainscoting to the hall area and painted it white. All the doors were wood and even though I wanted to paint the doors white as well, I kept thinking of all the prep work hassle, so I put it off. Fast forward to this past December: Knowing we are going to be selling soon, I finally painted all the doors white to match the wainscoting—and what a difference! It opened up the space, making it feel brighter and more spacious. I wish I could have enjoyed it all along!” – Karen Gray-Plaisted, Warwick, NY

A ton of tiny repairs

We’ve been busily fixing a ton of stuff in our house as we get ready to sell: The bathroom fixtures have been broken this whole time so we replaced them; I repaired a kitchen cabinet shelf that was constantly falling down due to a broken center support; I replaced a window door shade that wasn't properly installed, so it would always blow off during storms; and we added a bunch more lights. I think because these things were always ‘good enough,’ we never bothered to get around to doing anything about them. My wife was like, ‘We should have done these the first week,’ and she’s right.” – Derek Hales, Phoenix, AZ

It's the little things

“When we were getting ready to sell our house, we took care of all those little things that I didn’t even realize had been bugging me. We had the garage doors painted, porch columns repaired and painted, touched up the doors and baseboards, and painted this ceiling patch where it had been repaired but never repainted. It didn’t take a lot of time or cost a ton, and it really made such a difference.” – Rhonda McRae, Seattle, WA

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