When you’re a homeowner, you know… you’re just never done. From simply updating décor to larger projects like additions, you’re always doing something! But, when you’re looking to sell your home, the updates and fixes become even more time sensitive and important.
When finances are tight (like they are for everyone right now), you want your upgrades to do the most they can for you. Between making your home more attractive and trying to get the best return on your investment, your upgrades and fixes should work best for you. And since it’s a buyer’s market, you need to stand out from the other (many) homes on the market. Here are the top 5 home improvements you can make that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
- Upgrade Your Insulation
According to Remodeling Magazine insulation came in atop the list of home improvements with the biggest bang for your buck with a whopping 117% ROI. That means not only will new insulation help lower your energy bills, it will also more than pay for itself in terms of added value to your home. The right insulation will also help with noise reduction, freshen the air you and your family are breathing, and even help deter pests. If you do upgrade your insulation, be sure it’s noted on your home’s listing and include any special features of the insulation you chose like pest controlling and noise reducing.
- Get a New Roof
Some new roofs will give you a 49% return on investment! But choosing the wrong shingle (translation: a super expensive one!) will mean you’ll spend more than you’ll get back in the long run. If your roof is older – usually more than 10-15 years old – you could be risking leaks that can cause costly damage including ruining drywall and causing mold and mildew to grow. The longer you wait to replace an older roof, the worse that damage can get, too. All these issues – in addition to the thought of having to reroof your new home – will have potential buyers turning around and walking right out of your house.
- Simple Paint Jobs
If you’re looking for a super cost-effective way to still make a statement, for very little money and some elbow grease, painting both the outside and the inside of your home can really make a difference. It can make an older room look new and may save you from having to put on new siding. Going with a neutral pale grey or beige will create a blank canvas for new homeowners with a creative eye. They are also easy to paint over – certainly requiring less coats to cover than brighter colors. BUT! A nice pop of color on an accent wall that you want to stand out can also spark interest in potential buyers. Experts do recommend you stay away from white (you’re still living in the home and it’s difficult to keep clean and really easy to scuff) and polarizing colors like orange, green, and black. A slightly paler version or just a little darker version of what you already have on another wall will have the desired effect without being too out there.
- Kitchen Enhancements
The kitchen is arguably the most used room in the house. It may sound like a lot of money to put out, but new appliances are what many people look for at open houses. Having them can not only add value to your home but will stop people from asking for lower prices to offset the cost they would put in to replace them. Kitchen remodels have a national average ROI between 52.5% and 71.2%. Going too far with a kitchen remodel can be counterintuitive, though. Larger and more extensive remodeling project see lower returns than smaller projects.
- Curb Appeal
Curb appeal is a real thing. Some people will pull up to a potential home and leave if it’s unkempt or just plain boring. Entice those buyers to come in with some simple landscaping fixes. Trimming bushes and hedges as well as cutting back and pruning trees may take some time and effort, but it’s free! And adding colorful potted plants is cheap and easy. Keeping your outdoor areas well-kept will help with pests, too. Any organic materials that have gone bad or rotten on your lawn or on the back deck (think that spilled beer at your last BBQ or the apples that have dropped from your beloved apple tree) will attract cockroaches, flies, yellow jackets, and mice not only making outdoor areas less hospitable to you and your family but deterring potential buyers.
- New Windows
Drafty rooms and difficult to open, old, inefficient windows can make potential buyers look for other issues to point out. In addition, windows count as one of those items that can save new owners money in the long run and can have a return on investment of as much as 75%! So, you can enjoy less drafty rooms and lower energy bills while you’re still living at your house and a nice return on those new windows when you do eventually sell.
- New Garage Door
An old, rusty, hard to open garage door is not only a pain in the back, but it’s a turn off and will hurt your curb appeal. Also like windows, it will make buyers look more closely at the rest of your home. A new garage door isn’t all that expensive and can make your home look way more inviting. You can even scrape the old one and repaint it a complimentary color to your siding. Even most cost efficient and will help with your curb appeal.
- Update Your Bathroom
Like kitchens, bathrooms are important parts of any home. Also like kitchens, don’t spend more than you need! Not everyone wants a separate claw foot tub, or an infinity shower and those large expenses may not get you the return you’re hoping for. But, new tile and a fresh coat of paint? Relatively inexpensive and can make an older bath look new again.
- Get New Flooring
Carpet is nice and more cost effective, but hardwood is where it’s at. Real hardwood can be expensive, but the change it will make to any room can be dramatic. Buyers can add area rugs if they want a warmer spot to walk, but leaving hardwood uncovered is just as beautiful (if not more so). So, you’re not only giving a potential buyer new flooring, but you’re also giving them options. Quality carpet can last 10-15 years, but good hardwood can last the lifetime of the home. Either way you decide to go, new flooring can do wonders for your resale value.
- Finish the Basement
Some drywall, laminate flooring (just in case you’re prone to water in the basement), paint… and you can call your basement finished! What a potential buyer sees is a man cave, a playroom, their own mini movie theatre, frankly their possibilities are endless, but they can get excited about it without the work it takes to do the finishing part. And your home just went from 8 rooms with 2 ½ baths to 8 rooms with 2 ½ baths with a finished basement. Those four words can mean a lot and people looking will even search for it. Stand out and get into their search results!
When selling your home, remember to think like a buyer. What would make you turn away? Try not to be too emotionally invested in any one thing, either. You may love your sunshine yellow kitchen walls, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will and it can actually make someone shy away from your home. Why buy the house with the kitchen I KNOW I have to paint when I can get this one with neutral walls that will work right away? Cleaning up outside your house may seem like a lot of work, but it is your responsibility to take care of. A new homebuyer shouldn’t need to take that on. And again, in a buyer’s market – they won’t. But for a few small tasks that may not even cost you much upfront, you may get more for your home and even sidestep those terrible negotiation periods.