Your Home Makeover: The ROI Conversation

home improvements best ROI

Renovating a home can be a great experience. It’s an opportunity to do some fun projects, expand your creative horizons and hopefully make a profit when you sell.

Some questions come to mind, of course: “What projects return the most value? Which room has the best bang-for-buck ratio?”

Keep your remodel universal and the palette neutral. Subdued may not be much fun, but it’s the best way to sell quickly when the time comes.

At this point you may be wondering how in the world I can tell you that. And the answer is that I can’t. Nobody can. Every house is different and every buyer is different -- you really can’t know who the buyer of your home will be and what features, exactly, that person will prioritize.

But many a home has been bought and sold and many a research project has been done to crunch data to see what makes people tick. And thanks to that, we do have general guidelines. Let’s take a look.

A New Kitchen Turns Up the Heat

Buyers somehow use the kitchen as a barometer of the overall “condition” of the house. If there’s a remodeled kitchen with new appliances, that one room can make the whole house seem “updated,” even if it’s really not.

If your home’s future owner loves to cook, well then the kitchen becomes the primary selling point.

If the focus of your kitchen remodel is primarily ROI, then it pays to think in terms of visual impact. Your priority list should look something like this:

  • Cabinets and counters
  • Appliances
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Sink and fixtures
  • Minor decor details (hardware, open shelves, etc.)

Try to avoid the common mistake of tearing out the old kitchen indiscriminately. If you’re buying a house that’s been lived in for awhile, then it goes without saying that the kitchen “works.” A full kitchen remodel can wreak havoc on your budget; sometimes a few cosmetic improvements can transform the space for a lot less money. For ROI information specific to your region of the country, take a tour of Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report.

Spa Style in a Bathroom Sells

Similar to the kitchen, bathrooms are a place where you can make the house seem current. Newer fixtures, updated tile in the shower, nice countertops: These projects don’t cost a ton of money in your smaller bathrooms but really lend to the overall feel of the house.

In terms of offering features that compete with other homes on the market, master baths that give a bit of a “spa at home” feel are very popular. Steam showers, jetted tubs, sitting areas and even private little outdoor areas accessible only from the master bath are all spa-like features that can help sell your house fast.

Just be careful to keep tabs on your budget as you build out the space.

A Love Affair with Outdoor Living

By building out spaces that create the opportunity for family and friends to gather, conversate and enjoy the property without having to look through windows, you gain a leg-up on the competition.

When planning features for your outdoor room, consider installing a patio or deck. (A wood deck addition, in fact, landed on Remodeling Magazine’s top ten list of home improvements with the best ROI.) An outdoor kitchen and firepit area would also blur the line between indoors and out.

If an outdoor space already exists on your property, a simple rehab may be one of the best investments you can make.

Curb Appeal Makes a Good Impression

They say location is a home’s most defining feature, but It can be argued that nothing is more important when selling a home than curb appeal. Why? Only curb appeal has the power of the first impression. When your potential buyer pulls up to the curb and lays eyes on your property for the first time, it’s curb appeal that can put a very valuable smile on his or her face!

Common curb appeal projects with the best ROI include:

  • Exterior painting
  • Front door painting
  • Simple landscaping or landscape cleanup
  • Pressure washing, including walkways and drives
  • A new mailbox
  • And of course the bigger ticket items like a new roof or new windows

Anything that can help your house put its best foot forward and give a good first impression is going to be great for your resale value in a hot real estate market.

Focusing on Buyer Thinking Wins

Overall, the biggest key is to think like buyers. Getting the opinion of a person whose job it is to sell homes is also a really helpful move. Real estate agents see buyers every day and know what people in your neighborhood are looking for and what they’re paying for.

Keep your remodel universal and the palette neutral. Subdued may not be much fun, but it’s the best way to sell quickly when the time comes.