Just say "NO" to all out over the top home improvements. Making it worth more sometimes boils down to the need to move it to a better neighborhood with a healthier market... not by pouring in gobs of money to dress it up the way the owner thinks it should be detailed.
A home in any market will sit and wait for a buyer for just a handful of reasons. One big reason? Too many just like its with droopy puppy dog eyes saying "pick me pick me". So over supply and sometimes many lower priced places than your home that may have been over improved for the market. Reason number two that it sits there on the market..the nuclear waste dump next door or the backyard that glows in the dark. Banks and buyers don't want to touch it with a ten foot pole. Or reason three for delay, it was over priced but a great place, advertised to death and now folks looking for property think something is wrong with it..how come it has not sold? It now tests positive for shelf life HIV like day old bread with mold starting to show up due to being on the market so long and just plain over priced. Most buyers don't instantly think the reason it has not sold is over supply of the same kind or too high a price tag that ignored the market value. They just see a nice home that hasn't sold and draw their own conclusion..something wrong with it.. haunted or I bet a wet basement or mold problem. Something is wrong and it can not just be the price they deduce. Sadly, poor or no marketing on a dead horse or a sweet deal is the cause of no buyer heading into a closing on a home.
I have even been in property where there was a super kitchen already in place and a previous brand new agent recommended they rip out the kitchen, and do these seventeen things expensive things in a renovation the agent's brother could help with ($$$$) and then told it will selll. I come in two years alter and the seller has the receipts on the kitchen table during listing paperwork. They are saying "but we have an extra $50,000 into the place so it has to be worth that same $50,000 or more right?' Nope. The higher the price, the thinner the buyers is something to keep in mind for starters. And yes, cleaning up the junk, putting lights back into the cellar overheads, painting a scuffed up wall here, replacing a door or cracked window there is all worthy of your time and small investment. But to start changing areas in a major way and moving walls unless there was fire damage or something so horribly outdated or unsafe is not the answer. As a broker, tell the seller who always wanted to do this, and do that to the place that they are no longer going to make the place the way they want it. With your guidance they are going to detail it and keep the place in balance with those subtle, small updates to reflect what the market is doing, what the market expects. Often a clean up and ten little area job list as small as say remove an over grown shrub, get rid of burdocks behind the garage and rip out that entry 5x5 rug up that smells like Rover who sleeps there is enough. Coupled with tons of elbow grease and junk removal or furniture rearrangement. A garage that is ready to put cars in not one that the owner has stuffed to the gills and has not used since they moved in is a common sense approach. Have a subtle litte talk heart to heart and explain is worth doing, what is diminishing returns. Over improving for the market if the owner has the money is not something you should advise as a broker. Great for the local economy or the pockets of the renovators or suppliers who benefit when they open that seller's wallet wide and say "ching ching".