How a Minor Home Renovation Equals Major Returns

Knowing how—and to what degree—to stage, renovate, or remodel your home in Noe Valley is a big part of understanding how to maximize the amount you can get for it. There’s no simple formula, though! Instead, you need to rely on experience and market awareness. That’s part of what Droubi Team offers. In general, however, our history of helping people buy and sell homes in San Francisco leads us to recommend at least some investment before bringing any house to market. How much and in what ways depends on your specific property.

Before (L) and after (R)
Before (L) and after (R)

As a point of reference, consider the example of this four bedroom, three bath home on Elizabeth Street in Noe Valley. This highly in-demand neighborhood is where we do most of our business.

While this particular property was in no danger of languishing on the market, agent Lamisse Droubi compared its specifics with other competitive properties and highly recommended that the sellers invest in some minor renovation work. Coordinating with contractors and designers with whom we maintain on-going relationships, Droubi Team oversaw upgrades to the kitchen plus a few other significant adjustments to make this home most appealing to buyers.

The biggest investment Lamisse suggested was a minor kitchen renovation. While the existing kitchen was workable in its layout and not ghastly or falling apart, it didn’t present the home in its best light. We know that buyers frequently look first at kitchens and bathrooms when assessing the worth of a property. If one of these two rooms needs remodeling or renovation, that can keep a sizable percentage of prospective buyers from making a bid.

Why? Because doing work on a kitchen or a bathroom frequently means delaying the start of occupancy—plus the work and costs of designing, negotiating with contractors (and the city), and dealing with construction. If the seller can bring a property to market that requires no hassle, saying ‘yes’ suddenly gets much simpler.


In the case of Elizabeth Street, we wanted to remove the hurdle of an outdated kitchen without overdoing it. Adding too much personality and spending too much money can be as big of a turn off to buyers as failing to renovate in the first place. The key is to aim for widely agreeable design that allows any new owners to personalize without feeling pressure to do so. After a careful assessment, the Droubi Team, designers, contractors, and the sellers opted to replace this property’s counter tops, repaint the cabinets, and swap out light fixtures to make the kitchen brighter and more welcoming.

This renovation work was bolstered by a complete new coat of paint throughout the house, inside and out. Lighting, too, got an upgrade. Other staging work included replacing the carpet runner, swapping out the window treatment in the master bedroom, and paying some attention to the garden.

Completing this minor renovation and the staging work took four weeks and cost about $40,000. While it’s impossible to say how much Elizabeth St would have sold for without any upgrades, our long years of experience selling homes in San Francisco and Noe Valley suggests that this investment yielded a substantial return. With each additional bidder, competition increases and so does the final sales price. Forty-thousand spent now can equal major returns come closing.

Elizabeth Street was listed at $2,095,000 and went into contract within three days, selling for $2,800,000.