Should You Remodel A Kitchen Before Selling or Sell As-Is?

Kanika Aggarwal
Kanika Aggarwal
Head of Production
May 20, 2024
Should You Remodel A Kitchen Before Selling or Sell As-Is?

Homeowners preparing to sell often grapple with the dilemma of whether or not to renovate their kitchen before listing. On one hand, an updated, modern kitchen can make your home significantly more appealing to buyers and potentially justify a higher asking price. On the other hand, a full kitchen overhaul requires considerable time, money, and effort and does not guarantee an ideal return on investment.

The importance of kitchen renovations in the home-selling process cannot be overstated. For most buyers, the kitchen is one of the most critical make-or-break spaces that shapes their overall perception. An outdated, visually unappealing, or poorly functional kitchen can deter buyers and lead them to devalue the home – even if other areas are well-maintained. So how do you determine if a pre-sale kitchen remodel makes financial sense?

Assessing Your Current Kitchen

Start by objectively evaluating the current state of your kitchen. How old are the cabinets, countertops, appliances, and other major components? Do they show excessive wear and tear? Is the overall look and layout outdated compared to contemporary design trends? Understanding the typical kitchen renovation duration can help you plan accordingly and decide if you have enough time for upgrades before listing your home. It may be helpful to first consult a realtor, or renovation company, to understand what features are must-haves versus nice-to-haves based on preferences in your local market.

Pros and Cons of Renovating Before Selling

Renovating your kitchen before selling has a few clear potential advantages:


  • Improved aesthetics and modernization for undeniable visual appeal
  • Attracts a broader pool of buyers by meeting contemporary expectations
  • Ability to list your home at a higher, more competitive asking price

However, there are also some potential downsides to consider:


  • Cost of renovations may exceed the increased home valuation
  • Timeline and potential delays in completing the project before listing
  • Risk of over-renovating beyond what buyers truly want in your market

Cost Analysis

According to the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine, a minor kitchen remodel costs on average around $26,790 and recoups about 85.7% at resale. A major mid-range kitchen remodel is more expensive, averaging $77,939, and recoups about 41.8%​ (Remodeling)​.

Comparing these to other home improvement projects, garage door replacements and manufactured stone veneer installations indeed show higher recoup rates. For instance, the garage door replacement costs approximately $4,302 with a resale recoup of 102.7%, and manufactured stone veneer costs about $10,925 with a recoup of 102.3%​ (Remodeling)​.

Having a partner to help guide you through which renovations would yield the highest return for your particular home is important in helping determine the right improvements to make for the highest ROI. 

Considerations Before Deciding to Renovate

  • Your Budget: Can you realistically afford the chosen scope of kitchen renovations while leaving funds for the eventual costs of selling and moving?
  • Timing: How soon do you need to sell? A drawn out renovation could severely delay listing timelines. Also, consider whether renovating just before a market cooldown is a wise option. The real estate market is constantly fluctuating, so it’s best to first consult with a professional. 
  • Mistakes to Avoid: Don't fall for the "step-up" trap of renovating just one space like the kitchen to a higher level than the rest of the home. Combining new luxury countertops with dated cabinets or flooring can feel jarring to buyers.

When to Renovate and When to Skip

Generally, if your kitchen is relatively modern and well-maintained, skip major renovations and clean/stage it to show its best face. Minor updates like new lighting, hardware, or fresh paint may suffice.

However, if your kitchen was last renovated over 15-20 years ago and looks severely outdated or dysfunctional, investing in at least some renovations could be wise to avoid prospective buyers discounting your home.

You should also consider undertaking renovations if you plan to live in the home for several more years after updating the kitchen for your own enjoyment.

Design and Planning

If renovating, focus on maximizing broad appeal with attractive but timeless styles. Avoid extremely polarizing designs that only cater to niche tastes. Create a detailed plan and secure experienced contractors, as a botched renovation could decimate your home's market value. Understand current trends but avoid over-renovating with excessively high-end materials and amenities just to seem luxurious.

There's no universal right answer to whether you should renovate your kitchen before selling or list your home as-is. It ultimately depends on your specific kitchen's condition, your budget, timeline, and local market preferences.

For some sellers, a full renovation may be tough to recoup financially, unless working with a company that covers the cost of renovation for you, making light updates, or selling as-is may be the wiser choice. In other situations where the kitchen is extremely outdated, at least some remodeling could be crucial to remain competitive on the market.

Go into the process with open eyes, lean on professional expertise, and make a calculated decision based on your unique scenario. With smart planning – whether renovating or not – you can maximize your home's value and appeal to prospective buyers.

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Kanika Aggarwal
Kanika Aggarwal
Head of Production
May 20, 2024

Seasoned architect with a B. Arch from Sushant School. Formerly at Brookfield Residential and Studio Niev's founder. Kanika's blend of aesthetics and efficiency is pivotal to our production team's excellence.

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