Real Estate Roundtable: Tips for Sprucing Up Your Home

Real estate roundtable

Spring is well underway, which often means home improvement projects abound. We asked some of the top brokers from western Suffolk and Nassau Counties what advice they offer homeowners about how to best invest in their homes. What areas of the home are most worth upgrading, and pay off the best, whenever the owners eventually choose to sell?

Laura Zambratto

Laura Zambratto, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

“Spring is sparkling and a welcome time to take a deep cleansing breath and get to work! If there are any thoughts of selling in the future, whether it be soon or within a year or so, take a close look, with objective eyes, at your home’s curb appeal. Is it a place where you would love to be on the other side of the front door letting people in? Or does it appear to be uncared for, whose garden is failing and lawn is filled with crabgrass, or — most cheerlessly — nary a pansy in sight? Time for a trip to the garden center. The very first thing buyers see is the front of your home. Plant some new shrubs, revitalize the lawn, grab an inexpensive firepit and a few Adirondack chairs, hang some fun string lights, fill your garden containers with flowers and illuminate the view. These are some very simple yet extremely cost-effective ways to attract attention and create a feeling of warmth, of curiosity: “If the outside looks like this, imagine what they are doing on the inside!” Lastly, keep in mind that if you are thinking of listing in the forthcoming fall or winter, contact your trusted real estate broker and have them photograph and video the exterior of your home during these sun-filled, glorious days; it will make a marketable difference in how the home is digitally presented online when it is listed.”


Brian Hocker

Brian Hocker, Cornerstone Properties of LI 

“Some of the more common questions I hear lately on appointments are, “What can we do to make our home more appealing?” or “What upgrades can we do, before we list, that will bring us the most value?” We all know the more common advice such as painting using a neutral color, or maybe a new carpet in one of the rooms that may have the worst-condition floor. If there is hardwood under it, currently it’s best to uncover it and show the beauty with some simple work. I’ve always said kitchen and baths sell a home — it’s generally where most of our time is spent! Everyone always believes these are the most expensive upgrades to do, but they certainly don’t have to be. I’ve seen amazing bathroom and kitchen remodels that you would think were a high amount of money, but due to creative ideas, people are surprised by the actual cost! Simple changes like a light fixture or new style doorknobs may also add a classy appeal to the right buyer. At the end of the day, sellers may want to do smaller changes. This is because you may think the upgrades are amazing, but your buyers may think otherwise, as they may come in and change the entire look to their own taste. What’s more important is, if you are going to do anything, especially larger projects, certainly stay within a budget!”


Joyce Coletti

Joyce Coletti, Douglas Elliman 

“The best major investment you can make in your home to recoup your money is upgrading your kitchen and baths. However, giving your home some curb appeal can also go a long way. You might freshly paint your front door if it needs it, or plant seasonal flowers. Cut your shrubbery and keep the landscaping neat and clean. Prior to a sale, I also advise my clients to invest their time in making sure their home is clutter-free. Get rid of anything that you really do not need. It’s important that closets be tidy and organized. Sometimes, cleanliness and care can sell a home. Make sure your furniture is arranged in any room to make the space look open and airy. Change knobs to look fresh and new. Think about replacing faucets and hardware too! Buyers will notice even the smallest details, so keep things crisp and clean. If you live like you’re selling your home, you will be surprised!”

Margaret Trautmann

Margaret Trautmann, Compass

“Often, sellers are under the impression that they have to spend heavily to secure interest from the highest bidders. But in a hot market like we are in, a few basic maintenance procedures go a long way to have any home look beautiful and in full bloom. It is a good idea to clean winter debris, old leaves, and fallen branches outside the home. I also recommend pressure washing decks and fences and checking for damage. It is better to know what you’re selling than to be caught off guard. It’s also wise to clean and repair screens to prevent bugs from coming inside during the warmer months. I love invisible screens. On the interior, a home can be transformed with a quality paint job. Neutral colors are traditionally preferred to appeal to a broad audience. Still, recently there has been a shift toward floral wallpaper and pops of color that younger buyers have gravitated toward. Hence, it’s essential to understand who is most likely to purchase the property when making aesthetic decisions.”
Doug Cabral

Doug Cabral, Excelsior Team at Nest Seekers

“Outdoor living has become paramount in the last year. Buyers are looking for finished outdoor living areas, complete with beautiful landscaping, outdoor kitchens, firepits, water features and space to relax and enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air… essentially a private oasis. The pandemic brought this to the forefront.”