When it comes to selling your house, there are many commonly known upgrades that can both increase the value of your home as well as make potential buyers more interested in your house in particular. These upgrades usually focus around the kitchen, bathrooms, or “curb appeal”. However, there are many other types of upgrades that can also raise the value. As an electrician, I am often called in to make those upgrades, and I would like to share them with you.
One of the easiest and least expensive upgrades is replacing the switches and outlets. Nothing says “old house” more than old, crusty, painted over switches and receptacles all over your walls. Replacing these old devices with new models can help make an old home look new. It also helps give an overall contemporary look, especially when newer style switches are used, such as decora. Of course you also get the added benefit of not only a safer electrical system, but GFCI protection and tamper proof outlets for child safety.
Another upgrade that can drastically change the value of your house is the electrical panel and service. An old breaker or fuse panel is often cited for replacement by the buyer’s home inspector, as is an older and small electrical service. Home inspectors seem to always say that a house should have a 200 amp service these days, and will cite that as a required upgrade on the inspection report. If you have an older panel, especially if it’s the Federal Pacific or Zinsco brand, the inspector will also cite that for replacement. Often times homeowners insurance companies will not cover a newly bought house if it has an FPE panel in it.
This is when I get the phone call from the buyer. They tell me that the home inspector cited a panel or 200 amp service upgrade in a house they are looking to purchase and they would like me to give them an estimate to upgrade it. They will then use that estimate to negotiate a lower price on the house. The sellers will often make the concession due to wanting to sell the house since they are already in contract negotiations with that buyer.
So that leads to the question, why wait until the sale? When I have a customer say “I was thinking about upgrading this electrical panel, but I may be selling the house in a few years” I always tell them that they are going to pay for the upgrade either way. The only difference is if they pay for it now, they will live in a safer home for the next few years, and not have to deal with negotiations during the sale of the house.
In the end, anything that can make your house safer is a good idea, the added benefit that it might make the house more valuable or easier to sell is just an added benefit.