Selling your home is a little like wearing your heart on your sleeve. You open the doors of your personal space to let the whole world come in and make judgments about everything from your taste in curtains to your housekeeping skills. Though your real estate agent will no doubt remind you not to take things personally, it can be really hard not to.
To avoid getting negative feedback from potential buyers — and the hurt feelings that come along with it! — a few choice home improvement investments will make your property more attractive and can even help your home fetch a better price on the open market. No one’s suggesting that you pour all of you time and treasure into a full remodel that you won’t get to enjoy, but there are certain upgrades that make buyers’ eyes light up and their hands reach for their wallets. Try these projects to make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
According to Remodeling Magazine, the only renovation guaranteed to grow in value instead of depreciate over time is a nice, unsexy layer of additional attic insulation. If your home is uninsulated, it costs a lot of money to heat and cool, and this deficit will surely be noted on any home inspection report, potentially scaring away buyers looking for low energy bills and greener housing options.
The average cost of adding attic insulation is about $1,300, and it takes only a day for a pro to blow in a new layer. You can also do it yourself pretty easily with rolls of batt insulation from the hardware store, but many states offer rebates or zero-percent financing for the project if you hire a professional. With a little boost from these subsidies, it can actually be cheaper to outsource this job than to do it on your own.
Job Cost: $1,343
Resale Value: $1,446
Cost Recouped: 107.7%
Few home improvement projects are as easy and affordable as rolling on a new coat of paint, and it can do wonders to cover up wear and tear for a great first impression. Just about any real estate agent will tell you that buyers have trouble seeing past bright paint or dated wallpaper, so it makes sense to spruce up your space with a coat of a neutral color—especially in high-traffic spots like the kitchen, bath and living room.
This is definitely a DIY project, and it will only cost about $100 to buy paint, drop cloths, brushes, rollers and painter’s tape. To get started, remove your furniture and cover the floor with drop cloths. Then use painter’s tape to mask off woodwork before outlining the walls with a brush. Use the roller to fill in the center and repeat the process in a few hours for a second coat. Go slowly if you’re a newbie, and your buyers will love the results!
A cluttered home won’t sell well, so get a head start on your packing by boxing up your non-essential belongings and personal effects before opening your home for showings. Your kids are cute, but all those family photos make it hard for potential buyers to visualize living in your house. Make it easier on them by providing a pleasant, but largely neutral showroom for their own imaginations.
It’s also important to make sure your home is spotlessly clean. This means a good weekend’s worth of elbow grease if you do it yourself. Make sure to dust everything, including ceilings and walls; clean carpets and upholstery, scrub or bleach tile grout lines and replace light bulbs with the brightest possible choices. If you’re overwhelmed by the task, calling in professional cleaners will cost a few hundred dollars, but the investment could result in a three to five percent boost in your selling price, making it well worth the effort.
When it comes to winning the real estate game, curb appeal is huge. After all, you’ll never get an offer if buyers drive right past your house because it looks shabby or outdated. Replacing the siding — especially with a stone veneer — is a great way to give your home a new lease on life. Other projects with a proven return on investment include replacing the garage door and exterior door, both of which tend to improve overall energy efficiency and your home’s good looks in one smart maneuver.
For most homeowners, these projects are best left to the professionals. New doors for your house or garage will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 to have installed, while replacing or repainting the siding will be significantly more expensive. It’s a good idea to get your realtor’s opinion about where to invest your money before diving in.
Job Cost: $7,851
Resale Value: $7,019
Cost Recouped: 89.4%
For many buyers, the single most important room in any house is the kitchen. While there’s no need to gut your kitchen to make it look like a glossy magazine spread, minor upgrades do pay dividends when it comes time to sell. If your kitchen is still wearing 1970s avocado and harvest gold, try refacing cabinets instead of replacing them. You can also upgrade laminate countertops to stone or manufactured quartz, add a fresh coat of paint and/or replace the most outdated appliances to create a fresh look.
If you’re handy, small projects like paint, installing a new tile backsplash or replacing the cabinet hardware won’t take more than a weekend and you can do it for under $500. Bigger fixes will take time and money, so it’s still a good idea to get your realtor’s opinion about the most economical ways to make your kitchen appealing to buyers—especially since you won’t get to enjoy your new room for very long before you move.
Job Cost: $20,830
Resale Value: $16,699
Cost Recouped: 80.2%
Before committing to any home improvement project, make sure that you’re making design choices that will please the broadest range of buyers. That means going neutral and choosing middle-of-the-road materials and appliances. Tackle your home’s weakest spots first, and leave the rest alone. Be sure to save receipts from your work to provide to the new homeowners and the inspector, too—your project should be a major selling point, so don’t be afraid to market it as such! When you make smart choices about where to invest your home improvement dollars, you’re sure to be paid back in a quick sale for a great price.