HGTV’s “Unsellable Houses” is back for Season 3, and in the premiere episode, real estate agents and twin sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis revisit a home from their past.
In “Family Fixer,” Lamb and Davis help their cousin Jake Kuna and his wife, Brittany, sell the starter home that the sisters had helped them buy nine years earlier. With two young sons, the Kunas have grown out of the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Monroe, WA, but have had no luck finding a buyer for $385,000.
Lamb and Davis agree to invest $50,000 to renovate the property. Yet surprisingly, many of their smartest updates don’t cost much at all. Here are the upgrades they deem worth the investment—some of which might be worth adding to your own abode, too.
Invest in curb appeal to sell for a high price
When Lamb and Davis visit Jake and Brittany’s place, they remember why the place seemed so attractive nine years ago.
“I love the shutters, love that it’s a rambler,” Lamb says of the home’s long, meandering ranch-style layout. Still, both sisters agree that the home needs some exterior updates. The overgrown trees need to be trimmed, and the fence is begging for some fresh paint.
To make the home look more welcoming, the twins freshen up the landscaping, redo the shutters, and paint the fence an earthy shade of beige. During renovations, they discover that the siding needs to be replaced, too. It costs an extra $10,000, but by the end, the house looks completely different.
When Jake and Brittany see the finished exterior, they’re thrilled with the fresh look. The new paint and tree trimming made this humble starter home look grand.
“Making this big of a change to the exterior is going to bring us more money in your guys’ sales price,” Davis says.
A pop of color can help a home look chic
When Lamb and Davis tour the home, Lamb is surprised to find a lot of unnecessary color in the bedrooms. One bedroom is orange, while another has a purple wall.
Lamb explains that they like to use neutral colors in the homes they renovate. But she surprises the homeowners (and her sister) when she chooses a unique terra-cotta color to paint the fireplace.
“Our light wood floors and terra-cotta fireplace are adding to the outdoorsy vibe and will really appeal to buyers in this neighborhood,” Lamb says.
A few well-placed vivid hues add personality that can help reel buyers in.
An accent wall makes a stylish statement
Lamb and Davis also want to spice up the living room with a colorful accent wall.
“When you walk in the door, this is going to be the first thing we see, so I wanted to make a statement,” Lamb says of the white wall. “I’m thinking we’ll have this painted a fun color, and then we’ll wallpaper above it.”
She decides on a board and batten design on the bottom and subtle wallpaper above.
“This really simple pattern of wallpaper is going to really set the tone for this,” Lamb says.
In the end, this feature wall costs only about $200, but it makes a great first impression.
Sometimes it’s best to invest in quality upgrades
Many first-time homebuyers will try to cut corners when fixing up their home, whether it be DIY updates or the use of cheap materials. As it turns out, Jake and Brittany have done both.
Lamb and Davis find that, since moving in, the couple removed a kitchen wall without supporting the roof and added a cheap peel-and-stick backsplash. They also upgraded the kitchen with some new cabinets, which Lamb and Davis decide to keep.
The sisters need to fix the ceiling structure and replace the stick-on backsplash with actual tile. The new backsplash costs only $1,300, and with the salvaged cabinets, this kitchen doesn’t actually cost a lot to redo.
While there are many ways first-time homeowners can save money, the sisters prove it’s smart to invest a little extra money in quality features.
A built-in desk is a plus for the work-from-home set
When it comes to cost-effective starter homes, Lamb and Davis know that houses won’t always have every luxury, like the main bedroom with an en suite bathroom. The sisters realize they can’t add an entire bathroom to this home, but they do know they can sweeten the main bedroom by adding a convenient built-in desk.
“There’s no en suite in this bedroom,” Davis says. “So whenever we can give an added bonus to a main bedroom, it’s going to be a plus for a buyer.”
The desk costs only $100, but it adds a lot of functionality to the room. This space could be perfect for a homeowner who works from home or who wants a spot to apply makeup in the morning.
While not all buyers can expect their starter home to have all the bells and whistles, an inexpensive upgrade like a desk can make new homeowners feel like they’re not missing out on anything.
Does this unsellable house find a buyer?
Brittany and Jake originally listed this house for $385,000 but couldn’t get any offers after a month on the market. Lamb and Davis end up investing $60,000 in the renovation and list the home for $485,000.
Brittany and Jake end up accepting an offer for $520,000, which means the homeowners and the sisters are able to share a profit of $75,000. That’s a big profit for this family and a big win for this little starter home!