8 Home Improvement Ideas To Sell Your Home | Marin Real Estate

35 West Seaview Ave San Rafael gated entrance with house in distance
Home improvement ideas to sell your house front door pictured here

The Entry to My (Sold) Listing in San Rafael is Warm and Inviting

If you are thinking about selling your home in Marin County, you might be considering home improvement ideas that will make your property more attractive to potential buyers. Even if you are not planning on selling your home soon, you will benefit from spending your home remodeling dollars in areas that tend to yield a return in the Marin real estate market.

When it comes to remodels, whether large or small, you want to make sure that you spend money where there is the most potential for return if you are planning to sell your home. While these lists abound on the internet, I have found in my experience selling homes in the Marin luxury market that there are differences.  For example, these guides often counsel against investing in the master suite in other parts of the country.  Here in Marin, that’s not necessarily good advice.

NUMBER ONE: An Inviting Entry —  This is perhaps the most cliched piece of Realtor® advice on home improvement ideas and that’s because it’s an important one –the entry is critical. You get one chance to make a first impression and the entryway sets the tone for the house. Is the hardware fresh and un-tarnished?  Has the door been painted in the last few months?  Does it open and close easily, and feel snug?  (Auto makers have spent countless hours researching what customers want to feel and hear when they close a car door…) As you walk into the home, think of all the senses – what’s the first thing people see?  Smell?  Even hear?  Is there nice music playing?  Do buyers smell clean paint or an older carpet and cooking smells?  These are all things to consider when planning your remodel to sell your home.

For the front door color, I recommend a current “pop” or fashion color that sets the tone for the whole home and coordinates with the home staging.  Also pay special attention to the exterior lighting at the entry – ideally the fixtures are newer and of high quality.

Black steel entry gates flanked by white brick columns

A Gated Entry is Highly Desirable in Marin County Where Many Buyers are Looking for Privacy and Seclusion

NUMBER TWO: A Gated Entry —  This advice is unique to the higher-end homes that comprise much of Marin County, and makes it on my list of home improvement ideas. If there is room for a gated entry, consider adding one.  The cost in Marin, depending on the gate and mechanism used, starts at  $15,000 and can go up from there.  The gate, like the front door to your home, is the first impression to your property. An attractive gate communicates luxury, security and privacy – three home attributes in high demand among Marin home buyers. Still skeptical? Take a look at the current homes for sale in BelvedereRoss and Tiburon — note how many of the property descriptions include the phrases “gated entry” or “gated estate.”

Photo of bathtub

Buyers Appreciated the Large Bathtub in My Tiburon Listing That Sold in One Week

NUMBER THREE: At Least One Bathtub — With California’s ongoing water concerns, you may be tempted to convert all the bathtubs in your home to showers as you’re considering home improvement ideas.  Don’t do it.  Buyers with younger children are looking for at least one bathtub and it’s a non-negotiable. Often Marin home buyers with children do not have the time or energy to take on a remodel. I have seen the lack of a bathtub make buyers walk out of the home immediately, no further information needed. If you are remodeling your bathrooms, make sure there’s at least one tub, ideally situated near the children’s rooms.  Note that you don’t necessarily need to install a luxury tub with jets and lights.


Kitchen is an important home improvement idea pictured here

The Buyers Loved This Kitchen at One of My San Rafael Listings

NUMBER FOUR: The Kitchen: In many parts of the country, over-improving the kitchen is a very valid concern. When brainstorming home improvement ideas, start here. In the luxury Marin real estate market, it is almost impossible to spend too much on your kitchen. Home buyers in Marin are looking for open-concept kitchens that open to the  family room. Dine-in kitchens are also popular. Buyers with children love to be able to watch their young children play in the backyard from the kitchen if that can be achieved in your remodel. Buyers in Marin are looking for premium appliances, stone surfaces like Calacatta Marble, beautiful flooring and custom lighting. You may consider wine coolers, multiple ovens, instant hot water devices and multiple dishwashers depending on the property.

Photo of master bedroom

The Sellers of My San Rafael Listing Created an Inviting and Spacious Master Bedroom

NUMBER FIVE: The Master Suite — Note that I said “suite,” meaning the master bedroom needs to have an attached master bathroom (next on the list, below). Increasingly the master suite is seen as a refuge from the rest of the family.  Marin home buyers demand a spacious master suite.  One buyer remarked to me “I want to feel like I’m at the Four Seasons when I walk into my bedroom” and smart home sellers are happy to oblige.  Buyers are looking for separate seating areas, fireplaces, enclosed television cabinetry, and yes, they notice wool carpets and custom wood moldings.  At least one large walk-in closet is key — and buyers notice and comment on two. Your buyers are going to be sleeping and living in this room — when you are thinking of home improvement ideas to sell your home, this is a good place to invest.

The Marin real estate market is heavily weighted towards baby boomers who are looking for the master suite on the main level of the home. If this can be achieved, it will open your home up to a larger buyer pool.

Bathroom photo which is another important remodel option

A Beautifully Remodeled Master Bathroom in Bret Harte Heights

NUMBER SIX: The Master Bath — Take what I said above about master bedrooms and apply it to the master bath as well. The decision-makers in the sale of your Marin home might be content with doing some landscaping or painting a few walls to suit their tastes, but they want a master bathroom that is luxurious and ready to use.  They are looking for premium faucets, fixtures and cabinetry. Double sinks are a must!  Buyers also appreciate a large stall shower in the master. And don’t make the same mistake I made on my own bathroom remodel – I skipped the installation of heated floors and I regret it every morning. Steam showers, soaking tubs, windows to let in light, and higher-end bidet toilets are all worth considering. One of my listings featured an inviting fireplace near the tub.

Photo of powder room

NUMBER SEVEN: The Powder Room — When considering home improvement ideas to sell your home in Marin, this is a great place to start.  Depending on your floor plan, it might make sense to convert a hall closet into a half bathroom.  I have even seen half baths added beneath stairways.  In Marin, many of the buyers entertain frequently and expect a bathroom that is part of the public space of their property — they don’t want to send guests to use the facilities in their bedrooms.  A half-bath is a great, cost-effective remodel idea.

photo of wall of glass

My San Anselmo Listing (now sold) Features a Wall of Glass to Bring the Outdoors In

NUMBER EIGHT: Bring the Outdoors In — One of the most interesting things I have learned from selling homes in Marin is how positively people react upon entering a home if they can see all the way through the house to the back yard or a view.  Sometimes it’s as simple as removing heavy drapes before putting your home on the market.  Or adding a window at the end of a hallway, or converting a smaller window into French doors or sliders.  Many Marin home buyers love Marin because of the natural beauty, and they want a home that brings the outdoors in.

BONUS ROUND: Other home improvements to consider when selling your home in Marin include premium carpet, painting, landscaping (as a former landscape designer I can give you plenty of advice!), home offices (a huge plus in this market) and more. You may also consider higher-end integrated audio systems, home-control systems and security enhancements such as cameras, safes and other items targeted at the luxury market. Light fixtures, especially at the entry, living room, dining table and over the kitchen island make a big impression.  They don’t have to be expensive as long as they look premium and modern.  Basic modern fixtures, such as Edison Bulbs over a kitchen island or Drum Lights above a dining table (or in an entry) get noticed.  They also notice the details – so make sure doors are solid, not hollow core, and update all the door hardware and lighting controls in the home so they are fresh and consistent throughout.

I hope you find the above advice helpful based on my experience as a Top Marin Real Estate Agent.  Of course, these are only general home improvement ideas to sell your home.  I have spent the last 25 years of my life remodeling homes in Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss where to invest for your particular home and neighborhood.  In many cases, I have advised clients a year or two prior to actually listing their home for sale.

You may also want to read my article Selling A Home in Marin County for more advice.

Questions, call or text me at 415-847-5584, or complete the contact form below and I’ll be in touch right away.

Please Subscribe to My Blog to Receive Notification Of New Articles: