Which Home Improvements Are the Best Choice?

A 2017 report  published by Remodeling Magazine found an overall 64% ROI on home improvement. Many projects add value to your home and improve your family’s quality of life until you sell. But while some renovations will increase the value of your home, others will make your home more difficult to sell. The key is to consider mass appeal for the sake of resale. Changes should conform to your neighborhood so when you do list, you are able to keep your home within or near the price range for similar homes. How do you determine which home improvements will maximize your ROI? Your realtor is an excellence source of information. If you are not quite at that point, here are some tips from the industry:


Modern/updated kitchen topped the list of features desired by millennial buyers. HGTV says you will recoup 60%-120% of your investment on improvements to your kitchen. The Remodeling Magazine 2018 Cost vs. Value Report specifically states that a minor remodel will yield about an 81.1% ROI, but a complete renovation of the kitchen will see a much lower return. The key is to make improvements that fit the style and quality of your house. The kitchen shouldn’t be excessively fancier than the rest of your home; small investments can have a large impact:

Invest in new, energy-efficient appliances; stainless steel is the current trend

Upgrade countertops to quartz or granite

Replace flooring, although hardwood can be sanded and re-stained for a lower cost

Cabinets can be painted and/or given updated hardware; another choice is to keep the actual cupboards but add new doors/drawer fronts; add more cabinets if space allows

Paint the walls for a fresh, modern look

Add or replace backsplash – Zillow found that when “subway tile backsplash” is in the home description, it resulted in overall sales prices 7% higher than expected, and the homes sold 63 days sooner

Replace the faucet with a new, modern option

Replace the sink – Zillow found that having “farmhouse sink” in the description resulted in an overall sales price 8% higher than expected, and the homes sold 58 days sooner

Install a water filtration system, especially if the property is on a well


A bathroom addition yields an especially high ROI if your current home has only one bathroom. An area of just 20 square feet is needed for a half bath so get creative. Put one in an underutilized space or extra closet or under the stairs.

Jetted tubs are not a high ROI

Update the vanity and replace the hardware

Replace any cracked sinks

Install a new shower head – energy-efficient rain showers are a current trend

Install new countertops – Zillow found that descriptions including “quartz countertops” found a sales price increase of 6% with homes selling 50 days sooner; granite in the description saw an increase of 4% and homes sold 38 days sooner

Replace the faucets, especially if they are brass or gold

Install a low-flush toilet and new toilet seats


Paint is a fairly easy way to give any room in your home a clean, updated look, especially when you use modern colors. Go for a neutral palette but avoid off-whites as they can appear dingy. Use low VOC paint for eco-friendliness and your own health. Touch-up or repaint high traffic areas like hallways, stairs, and around doors to eliminate chips, scratches, and scuffs.


Replace worn carpets and rugs. Nail down creaky boards. Replace broken or cracked tiles. Today’s homebuyers are interested in stress-free living so choose low maintenance flooring options.

Miscellaneous Interior

Reinvent existing spaces: finish a basement or convert and attic to add space for an extra bedroom, family/craft/toy room

Create new space: take down nonstructural walls; remove an oversized kitchen island and replace with a moveable piece

Establish a dedicated laundry room; on the second floor or near bedrooms if possible; invest in new, energy-efficient machines

Replace your thermostat with an energy saving option that is programmable, or one that may be controlled by computer or smartphone

Update lighting throughout the house; add dimmer switches or sun tubes; replace old bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs

Invisible projects

Sometimes invisible projects are necessary to remove any barriers to selling your home at your desired price:

Add fiberglass insulation in the attic 107.7% ROI

Install an energy efficient heating and cooling system

Update the septic system

Install an energy efficient hot water heater


Be proactive and have an inspector look at the roof, electrical system, and other functional pieces in your home so you are aware of anything a buyer’s inspection might discover. The inspection may find you need to repair wood rot or replace the roof. Install energy-efficient windows, especially if your home has single pane windows, and enjoy the savings on heating and cooling costs until you sell.


Curb appeal projects are seeing a higher ROI than interior changes. Create an outdoor living space where buyers can envision themselves relaxing and make improvements that will display your home in the freshest possible manner:

Add a deck or patio – something as simple as a 16 x 20 wood deck with a railing was found to have an 82.8% ROI  

Incorporate a built-in or free-standing grill

Trim overgrown shrubs, replace patches of dead grass, add color with potted flowers

Plant new trees or shrubs that are hearty and low maintenance

Clean, paint or replace gutters

Install a new front door –  a new steel door was found to have a 91.3% ROI

Replace vinyl siding with composite materials; manufactured stone veneer was found to have a 97.1% ROI

Replace the garage door not only for aesthetics but also for insulation purposes

While putting money into a renovation isn’t a 1:1 return on investment, it can help you sell your home more quickly and for a higher price. Focus on energy efficiency and small upgrades that add character and comfort while keeping in sync with the rest of the house. If you are not in a hurry to remodel, take the time to price compare between stores, wait for sales, and check out a Habitat for Humanity ReStore if there is one near you. Not sure where to start? Contact me today for a consultation of which improvements will help us sell your home quickly and profitably.