8 Home Upgrades That Always Pay Off, According to the Pros
Whether you’re planning to sell in the near future or down the road, you might want to consider directing your renovation dollars toward things you—and your future bank account—will enjoy.
Common logic would tell you that any and all improvements to your home would in fact improve your home value. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case (we’re looking at you, infinity-edge pool). If you’re contemplating a renovation, consider these eight upgrades guaranteed to earn back bucks when your home is sold.
1. Temp-Controlled Square Footage
"From the appraisers' point of view, and really from everyone's, heated and cooled square footage is the biggest winner [in terms of payoff]," says Charleston, South Carolina, real estate agent Dewey Golub. If you’re looking to boost your sale price, converting a garage, attic, or screened-in porch—or building an entirely new addition—all add major brownie points for buyers. They can also cost quite a bit in time and money, so make sure you’re up for the up-front investment before committing to a project like this.
Related: 7 Kitchen Trends That Can Raise Your Home's Value:
2. A Fresh Coat of Paint
Few relatively inexpensive upgrades work as much magic as a fresh coat of paint. Golub notes that it's especially "necessary if the colors are unique. You don't want to go looking for a unique buyer; you want a broad-based buyer." Steven Jones of Better Shelter, a Los Angeles residential real estate development and design firm that specializes in the rehabbing and resale of character properties, echoes this sentiment. "Since most people aren't well versed in trends, I would recommend just keeping your home neutral, cheerful, light, and bright.”
3. Manicured Landscaping
Much like painting, spiffing up your home’s curb appeal is relatively simple and sports a big payoff. Aside from minding the general upkeep of existing foliage—like trimming back bushes and low-hanging branches—you can also fancy up the landscape with freshly planted or potted flowers. Fort Pierce, Florida, landscape designer Barb Catalano suggests placing potted flowers around the front door (either flanking it, sitting to one side, or lining a stairway leading up to the entrance). If your front yard is in need of a full-on overhaul, "native plants are always a good choice," Catalano says, and "new mulch makes everything look fresh."
4. Cosmetic Kitchen Fixes
Avocado is great in your salad, but as the color theme for your kitchen? Not so much. As trends turn toward minimalism and modernism, more buyers are opting against busy backsplashes and jarring palettes in the kitchen. If yours hasn’t seen an upgrade since the ‘70s, consider relatively simple tasks such as painting your cabinets or replacing your backsplash with crowd-pleasing subway tiles. If you have the money for a larger overhaul and you “want to make a kitchen look new,” says Los Angeles Realtor Ben Lee, “get stainless appliances. They don't have to be that expensive.”
5. Smart Storage Space
In the age of Marie Kondo, it’s especially important to have enough room to neatly tuck away all of your belongings. Organizational accents like built-in bookshelves and window seats with storage underneath are stylishly practical and add old-school charm. If closet space is at a minimum, simple solutions like extra shelves, hooks, and rods can also help ease any storage worries of potential buyers. "If there is limited closet space, I always install an extra closet rod so people can increase their hanging capacity,” Jones says.
6. Vintage Preservation
With a property that boasts any sort of vintage pedigree, no matter how small, "you want to respect the authenticity and the integrity of the home," Jones says. So, retain and treat with TLC whatever vintage details remain, such as original window casements and hardware.
7. Big-Impact Bath Upgrades
The great thing about baths is that they’re tiny enough where you can make singular changes—such as replacing a vanity or tub—for maximum impact. Fixtures such as claw-foot tubs, frameless shower doors, and freestanding sinks are particularly trendy right now. If you’re looking for a smaller investment, fresh paint, new hardware, and a quick re-glazing and re-caulking of the tub can also help make a space feel shiny and new.
8. Solid Footing
If you’re looking for high-impact upgrades, hardwood flooring can dramatically transform a space just as a fresh coat of paint can. "Not many people are big into carpet," Jones says. Hard floor surfaces in general appeal to many people because they’re easier to clean, and hardwood in particular feels aesthetically sophisticated.