There’s a wide range of home improvements sellers can make. It’s wise to consider value; some improvements will give you better return on investment, or ROI, than others. If the project is necessary or trending in the current market, or there are easy, inexpensive ways to do it, you’ll get a lot of “bang for your buck.”
Many improvements can be a matter of degree, with the option to go simpler and DIY, or to go bigger and call in a pro. Top realtors agree on what consistently provides the most ROI.
The Top Five Improvements
- Curb Appeal: It’s the big one for ROI. A study found that 80% of buyers “click” with a house’s first impression, like love at first sight, before they even get facts and numbers. Here’s a list of large and small curb appeal projects:
- Reseed the lawn. Lush grass will bring you over 300% ROI.
- Mow the lawn. Creating diagonal lines will make it look bigger.
- If you have sparse spots, plant a garden. Make them eye-catchers instead of eyesores.
- Spruce up gardens and borders with colorful native plants. Potted plants look great flanking the front door or hanging from a porch.
- Prune trees and bushes, especially any that block light.
- Reseal the driveway, or to go smaller, patch cracks and/or power wash.
- Replace front door and/or garage door, or paint them for great “face value.”
- Power wash the exterior walls and touch up peeling paint.
- Fix/replace outdoor lighting. Add solar-powered, motion-sensor lights for Green and Smart appeal.
- Tidy the property completely, and make general repairs to a sagging porch, missing railings, or broken fences.
2. Energy Efficiency Updates:
- Insulating the attic will bring you 8% ROI.
- Other energy improvements include adding ceiling fans, solar panels, new windows, Smart technology, and Green appliances. Built-in ways to save money are attractive to buyers.
- Smaller projects include cleaning fans and vents around the home, servicing appliances and HVAC systems, and re-caulking existing windows.
3. Small Kitchen Remodeling: A full renovation is attractive, but will only get you about 65% ROI on the cost. Smaller kitchen improvements can get you closer to 80% ROI. We’ve all seen house-hunting shows where buyers either shout “I love this kitchen!” or their faces fall.
- Clean extremely well. Go after corners and crevices, grout, grease, the insides of appliances, etc. Clear the surfaces, and organize the pantry.
- Paint walls and cabinets a bright neutral color. Shades of white are trending right now. If your cabinets are staying wood, polish them.
- Update hardware, including faucets, lighting fixtures, cabinet pulls, and drawer handles. Go for a cohesive, simple look.
- Improve older countertops. Replace with granite if possible. If not, epoxy sealant will make counters look newer.
- Create vignettes to suggest warmth. Bowls of fruit, citrus for scent, and flowers add color. Try a teapot, cup, and magazine vignette on a table, or a platter of vegetables.
4. Easy Interior Updates include the same things as the kitchen.
- Declutter surfaces, furniture, floors, and storage space, and clean everything.
- Paint walls warm, interesting neutral colors.
- Refinish hardwood floors. You’ll break even on ROI, but it has a lot of visual impact.
- Update lighting fixtures, lampshades, and bulbs to create warm, inviting light.
- Remove window dressing, leaving only shades or blinds, to focus on natural light.
- Replace doorknobs and outlets; details freshen the look.
- Add shelves to storage spaces. More storage is always a plus.
5. Staging the house can be DIY or you can hire a stager. Staging a home means adding just the right decoration to create an atmosphere, tell a story, and help buyers imagine the house as theirs. Staged houses sell faster and for more.
- Decluttering/cleaning is a big first step. Staging doesn’t require all your furniture or decor.
- Pops of color against the neutral background can come from throw pillows, flower arrangements, and carefully selected wall art and objects/books.
- Vignettes work. Balance impersonal staging that emphasizes the house’s features with that lived-in sense, like a cup and book in a reading nook, or coffee table books on display. Plants add the same touch of life.
There are good books available out there on every aspect of prepping and selling a home. The best real estate books will be up-to-date, full of clear information, and ready to offer practical, easy-to-follow tips. Your realtor is also a great resource. Knowing your local market, she can advise you on prioritizing improvements, how much to do, and reliable contractors.
Financial Disclaimer can be found here.