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Home Upgrades That Make the Biggest Bang For Your Buck

Which home upgrades should you opt for?

You’re in the mood to update your home, but you’re not sure how long you’ll be there. You have a limited budget, so you want to know which upgrades will make your home more attractive and livable now, and give you the biggest bang for your buck, should you decide to sell.

Upgrade the Kitchen

The No. 1 upgrade with the greatest return is the kitchen. According to HGTV, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of your investment on a kitchen remodel. A “modern/updated kitchen” tops the list of what most first-time homebuyers are looking for. Even a small investment can have a large return. Some popular changes you can make without taking the room down to the studs and breaking the bank include:

  • Fresh paint: Get the biggest bang for your buck on a kitchen remodel by repainting in neutral colors. Both white and gray are hot colors for cabinets right now.
  • Stainless steel: As your appliances wear out, replace them with stainless steel. This finish equals “updated” in the mind of a buyer. The latest trend is black stainless. Its softer, less reflective finish shows fewer finger marks.
  • Quartz countertops: Quartz is catching up to granite and marble as the go-to material in higher-end kitchens. It resists scratches, cuts, and stains, requires less upkeep and is less expensive than natural stone. Add color with new backsplash in tile or glass.
  • New flooring: Hardwood or laminate are still popular, but tile that looks like wood is growing in popularity, partly because of its ease of upkeep.

Beautify your bathroom

For even a minor bathroom remodel, the average return at resale can be 102%.

  • Go granite, marble or quartz with your countertops. Your bathroom counter is most likely smaller than your kitchen counter and will be less expensive to replace.
  • Swap the overhead lighting with wall mounts to add warmth and value. Make sure that you have even lighting around your mirror that doesn’t cast shadows.
  • If you can afford it, heated floors are very attractive to buyers.
  • Upgrade your bath area with something as simple as new grout. Consider replacing your tub with a walk-in shower, if you don’t have one.
  • If your home only has one bathroom, you can recoup a large percentage of your investment by adding another one. Consider using any extra rooms, closets or underutilized spaces as a bath.

Heighten Curb Appeal

Your home’s exterior gives an important first impression. Here are some cost-effective ideas that could make potential buyers stop, look and want to come in:

  • Paint your front door and maybe even the window trim a bright color.
  • Add mulch and edging to your flower beds.
  • Add landscape lighting.
  • Make sure your walks and driveway are in good shape.


For more “curb appeal” ideas, see this Citywide article: Moving Up: How to Add Curb Appeal to Your Home. https://www.citywidehomeloans.com/article/moving-up-how-to-add-curb-appeal-to-your-home/

Improve Energy Efficiency

Today’s buyers are concerned about a home’s energy efficiency and operating costs. Even if you’re not ready to sell, you can save yourself a bundle each year in heating and air conditioning costs by making your home more energy efficient. Most local utility companies offer a free energy assessment that tells you what will help your particular home. They may even offer rebates or credits for certain upgrades. All of the following could potentially be selling points and money savers:

  • Add energy-efficient windows.
  • Bring your attic insulation up to code or the recommended amount for maximum energy savings.
  • Fix or replace doors that let in hot and cold air.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that turns heating and cooling off and on as needed.
  • If it’s more than eight years old, a new, energy-efficient water heater could pay for itself.
  • LED lighting not only costs less to operate but has a much longer life-expectancy.
  • Replace older appliances with energy-efficient models, and remember stainless steel appeal.

Repurpose a Room

Versatile rooms have greater appeal to potential buyers. Try to think about other ways that you, and potential buyers, can use your existing space:

  • Basements frequently work well as second living rooms, or game rooms. If zoning allows it, you could also turn this space into a small apartment for an aging relative or a tenant.
  • Attic spaces often work well for craft rooms and game rooms, especially if they have high ceilings. If you have kids, you can add swings to the rafters, and create a cool play room just for them.
  • Create more space by knocking out a non-structural wall, removing a kitchen island or room-dividing cabinets. Today’s buyers like an open floor plan, with flexible living space.


Additional “Bang for the Buck” Upgrades

  • Smart-home technology
  • A deck, patio or porch
  • An upstairs laundry room
  • Hardwood or plank-like tile floors
  • Crown moldings and chair railings
  • Elderly-friendly features, like bars in the shower and wheelchair accessible doors
  • New paint in a neutral color, especially in high-traffic areas
  • Closet organizers

Little Fixes and Upkeep

Spending a few hundred dollars on small fixes can make your home feel clean, fresh, and more inviting, while also indicating that it has been well-maintained. Keep the paint fresh, fix the roof when it leaks, replace wood that rots, and get rid of any mold. Chores like these keep your home from deteriorating over time. Buyers want a healthy, safe home, and they look carefully for signs of routine maintenance.


Afterthought: Home Improvement Projects that Don’t Add Value

·         In-ground swimming pools

·         Gourmet kitchens with high-end accessories

·         Whirlpool baths

·         Sunrooms

·         Expensive landscaping

·         Home office remodeling

A new roof, unless yours is visibly old and scary looking