Home Improvements with an Eye on ROI

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Real Estate

Home Improvements with an Eye on ROI

Many people want to make improvements just prior to selling their house.  WHAT a SHAME!  Make them while you intend to live there so you can still enjoy them.  But, make them wisely and when you make them, make those that will give you the most enjoyment while you live there.  There is no real value that you can put on your comfort while you are living in your home.

But if you are thinking of improvements for selling, before you do ANYTHING, talk to your REALTOR® don't spend more than is necessary to get the best return on your investment!

Project (average cost recouped, national) according to Realtor Magazine: 

Minor kitchen remodel (88%) 

Often as easy as repainting cabinets or changing handles/pulls, a fresh look new appliances or new counter tops with a back splash.  All of these things can yield huge results.

Bathroom remodel (85%)

So many vanity and tile choices and it is something you might think of doing for your own benefit even before you decide to sell.

Major kitchen remodel (81%)

Moving walls, changing and rearranging the kitchen can be a bigger challenge than just "freshening-up" as suggested above, but sometimes you have been living with a kitchen design that just doesn't work.  Buyers will spot this immediately and whatever the cost to make that change, in their mind it is at least doubled.  A bad kitchen design can put you way behind the competition when it comes time to sell and in addition to a lower price you may be giving up precious time and losing out as the homes around you sell while yours sits on the market.  But before you begin a major undertaking such as this, talk to your REALTOR® or a designer.  Don't spend money foolishly when it might not be necessary.

Family Room addition (80%)

Room additions can be tricky.  Sometimes it is simply adding siding on a covered porch or finishing a basement or attic.  Those are less expensive than adding a room that wasn't already under roof.  There will be a larger return on those.  But if your house doesn't have that "cozy comfy place" for the family to gather it is something you may want to consider/

Deck addition (77%)

Building a deck or creating livable outdoor space is not only a good return for your investment it is usually one of the more enjoyed and appreciated home improvements.  Done well it creates the illusion of living space even though it is not counted in the livable square footage.  You can't overvalue the appeal of a well created outdoor space or well groomed yard.  

Master suite (75%)

Bedrooms matter and according to REALTOR® Magazine (Cost vs Value issue) the figure is you will recoup 75% of this investment when you sell.  Some people spend more time in their bedrooms than others if you like the retreat of a luxury suite, then by all means spend your dollars here.  If it is an improvement to sell your house faster of for more money, there are better places to invest your time and money.

Attic bedroom (74%)

While you are living there it may be a necessity.  You may have one more child than you planned for or a boomerang kid that needs to be as far removed as possible or maybe your aunt, uncle, or cousin needs to move in.  The attic can be easy space to convert. 

Siding replacement (73%)

Sometimes it is a necessity, and according to REALTOR® Magazine the ROI is better than window replacement, but for my money, enjoyment, comfort, and cost savings while you are paying the utilities window replacement is usually the better upgrade.

Window replacement (69%)

See above.  Especially in an older home replacement windows will begin to save you money the first time the furnace or a/c kicks on and you enjoy the benefit of these from the inside or outside.

Home office (55%)

By far on this list the lowest yield on your investment.  Those who need that home office usually search for it or add a bedroom to their search.  That "extra" bedroom can be easily converted to an office and back when necessary.


These are the projects according to REALTOR® Magazine that give you the most return on your money.  While you intend to stay focus on the projects that will make YOU happiest.  If making improvements to sell, call your REALTOR® before you begin.  They will give you the best idea of where to spend your hard earned money to get the most in return for it.  The best return on investment is paint where a bit of money and a little sweat equity can go a long way.  

Some projects that may also increase your home’s value include: Jacuzzi (4 jets or more); permanent hot tub; in-ground pool; security system; sprinkler system; substantial out buildings; and vaulted ceilings. These may not add value to your house: above-ground pool; ceiling fans; garden pond; and light fixtures.  Remember that sometimes the only return on your investment may be your personal enjoyment during the time you are living there.

Remodel with mass appeal in mind:

Keep in mind that your taste is not necessarily what everybody wants.  Surely you have walked into houses and thought 'what were they thinking when they built that or painted that color or chose that wall paper".  We all have different tastes and when it comes time to sell it is best to appeal to the masses, not a narrow segment that has "exquisite" tastes.  There is nothing wrong with "bold design" but keep in mind that when you sell a "bold design" can be off-putting to a majority of buyers.  Although they make make an offer for your house, that feature might subtract and not add to their offer price.

Use quality, durable, timeless materials:

Home shoppers spot quality, if a quality flooring or counter top doesn't add to the end price it will at the very least help you sell more quickly.  Also be aware of fads vs time tested styles.  When you remodel or upgrade what is the "rage" today might be tomorrow's pariah.  Those bright brass fixtures might be the first things the next owners replace.

Keep the value of your property within 15 to 20 percent of your neighbors’:

The pride from being the best and biggest house in the neighborhood fades quickly when you try to put a price on that when it comes time to sell.  The smaller houses tend to get more dollars per square foot and sell faster than the biggest homes.  A man's home is his castle, but when it comes time to sell buyers ask themselves why would I pay this much for this neighborhood when I can get into that more upscale area for the same price.