Ask a Realtor: What updates should we make to our home to sell it?

Mike Budd
On Real Estate

Dear Mike: My wife and I are getting ready to put our 3-bedroom/3-bath West Vail home on the market, which was built in the mid-80s. We realize we are likely to be competing with newer construction and some price points downvalley that may be attractive to buyers. We are curious what buyers are currently looking for and what updates you would recommend so we are well-positioned to sell our home in a reasonable timeframe?

Dear Homeowner: These are great questions and ones that are very relevant to the current Vail Valley real estate market and ones I anticipate are being asked (or should be) by other homeowners in your similar situation.

In terms of trends and what buyers are looking for, you are correct that many are going to start with new construction and see what’s available, particularly when it comes to Built Green and modern contemporary designs that allow for more open and interactive spaces, which are very popular right now.  These design trends also generally allow for smaller footprints while still feeling spacious, all of which speak to being kinder to the environment and the wallet, particularly with more efficient heating and appliance features.

That being said, you do have the advantage of a closer-to-Vail location, which appeals to buyers who want greater convenience and access to Vail. There are also buyers who can see the forest through the trees (so to speak) and, based on a fair market value price point, may be willing to buy an older home and renovate it to their specific needs. While you can’t change the actual size of your home, there are a number of cost-effective things you can do to increase your home’s overall appeal.  These include:

Curb appeal

The age-old adage of you only get one chance to make a first impression is also true when it comes to your home’s curb appeal. Exterior painting, refreshing your landscaping and removing overgrown trees and shrubs are important and cost-effective first steps. Adding flowers and other bedding and making sure the walkway and stairs are in good condition (if you have them) also greatly enhance the home’s appeal.

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Interior modifications

It’s also possible to open up interior spaces by repainting, which can give your home a more contemporary feel. This is particularly important if your home has many colored walls. A bright white or very muted soft tone grey can add brightness and/or warmth while also remaining neutral so buyers can better “see” their home in yours.

Digital enhancements

Some buyers are more visionary than others when it comes to “seeing” an older home’s potential. But for the majority of buyers, undergoing a digital enhancement process of your home can give them an idea of your home’s potential (or their future home). This is something I recommend discussing with your broker.

Fair market value pricing

While enhancements are important in terms of visual impression, the single most important factor in your ability to sell your home in a timely manner is to make sure it is fairly priced based on market value. There are many cost-effective ways to make your home more attractive, but at the end of the day, it’s how you price your home that will be the biggest determining factor in how long it takes to get and close on an offer.

Good luck!

Mike Budd is a 19-year Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties veteran, specializing in residential and commercial real estate, including being named Vail Board REALTOR of the Year in 2016. A Vail Valley resident for 21 years, Budd has seen the Vail Valley evolve into one of the most desirable resort/lifestyle communities in the world. Contact Budd with your real estate questions at,  970-376-4511 or

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