For potential home buyers, the sight of an older appliance can be a predictor of the condition of the entire house. Appliances that are poorly maintained or show heavy usage and "wear and tear" can lead a buyer to believe that other aspects of the home have suffered a similar fate. Additionally, older appliances bring up fears of reliability and much dreaded future repair calls.

With dozens of comparable homes on the market these days, sellers are faced with the challenge of how to make their home stand out from the crowd. How much does updating your kitchen appliances boost a home's appeal?

Alluring The Buyer

Five years ago, my wife and I (along with millions of other Americans) made the decision that the timing was right to finally purchase a house. Although online real estate was growing and homes could be viewed online, we still wanted to go the traditional route and examine these properties in person. We felt that, even with a multitude of photographs, it was difficult to get a good read on a home, and more specifically, what kind of condition the kitchen is in.

Like most families, we spend a majority of our time in or around the kitchen and wanted a home that would be supportive of our lifestyle. Looking back, the details about these kitchens that remain vivid in my memory are not the decor or room layout, but the appliances. I can still remember the condo that had the stove range with the mechanical clock and the ranch home with 50's fridge that weighed more than our Honda. Since many homes received offers within hours of being put on the market, we needed to quickly assess all properties and I couldn't help weigh in the condition of the appliances into our decision.

What To Do About Your Kitchen Appliances

If you can afford new appliances and it makes sense to do so for the resale value of the home, replace them before it goes on the market. Walk through any model home in a nearby development to see how kitchens are staged to the taste of current buyers. For instance, stainless steel provides the modern look many buyers seek as well as serving as a neutral background that will match with almost any other color combination. Stainless steel appliance costs have come down dramatically in recent years.

For homeowners who really want to impress potential buyers, consider high end appliances from companies like Viking, sub-zero and Thermador, which exude both luxury and superior quality and appeal to people in the food industry, like my wife who is a personal chef.

However, if you decide that you should keep the current appliances, here are a few tips for restoring their appeal.

To start, do a deep cleaning. Dilute water with baking soda for the dishwasher, ammonia-water mixture for the stove. If heavy scrubbing isn't your cup of tea, hire a cleaning service to do a "move out cleaning".

Some inexpensive and creative ideas that I've come across to makeover your fridge doors are: 1) cover it with fabric; 2) apply a layer of wall paper; or 3) apply a coat of "appliance paint", which comes in black, white, and even a faux stainless steel.

Ask your Realtor® for advice as well. Realtors are one of the best local resources available and are responsible to know what's best for selling a home.

Appealing to Green Buyers

Besides adding to the overall attractiveness of the kitchen, modern appliances have a distinct advantage of their older counterparts: energy efficiency. Appliances that carry the energy star label have been found to use between 10-50% less energy and water than their standard model counterparts.

A potential buyer may be excited to know that your home can offer its next inhabitants savings of hundreds of dollars per year.

The refrigerator, typically the biggest culprit for kitchen energy consumption due to its always on status, also offers the biggest opportunity for savings. According to, modern refrigerators use 40% less energy than conventional models sold in 2001. That's enough saved energy to light the average American household for nearly four months.

The easiest way to identify this savings potential is to look for the yellow and black Energy Guide label that the Federal Trade Commission mandates must be on all new appliances. This label contains information about estimated power usage for the year, comparable energy usage to similar models as well as the estimated cost to run the appliance for one year. The Federal Trade Commission issues an annual "How to Buy an Energy Efficient Home Appliance" guide that can be found at many appliance stores or on the Internet.

When selling your home, you need to do everything possible to make your property stand out from the competition. Renewing current appliances offer an easy and affordable alternative to a full kitchen remodel. Purchasing new energy efficient appliances appeal to potential home buyers who have green interests. Whichever you decide, appeal to winning over the hearts and minds of interested buyers.


Paula McDaniel
Cell: 423-355-0311
Fax: 423-598-7277

Shelley Talton
Licensed Assistant to Paula McDaniel

Direct: 423-308-5447
7522 E. Brainerd Rd.,
Chattanooga, TN 37421

Office: 423-899-5943


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