Not all fixes are as smart as they seem.

By Marisa Spyker
May 09, 2019
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If you’ve made the decision to put your home on the market, you can generally bank on one thing: more decisions. From the best time of year to list to determining the magic asking price for your home, questions inevitably pop up with answers that could, ultimately, affect how much cash you’ll walk away with in the end.

The factor with arguably the most influence, however, is how marketable your home appears. Buyers are influenced by everything from curb appeal to the color of your bathroom. And while it might make sense that all improvements would indeed improve your profits, the reality is that not all updates pay off in the end.

According to a new report from Zillow, this is especially true in one of the most commonly renovated rooms in the home: the kitchen. The real estate site recently analyzed home projects that bring in the most bang for sellers’ bucks, and as it turns out, kitchen fixes are among the worst returns on investment compared to most other home improvements.

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There are a few reasons for this. First, kitchen renovations tend to be costly, setting the average homeowner back between $12,000 and $34,000, according to HomeAdvisor. The kitchen, often dubbed the heart of the home, can also be a very personal space for homeowners, with different buyers preferring different styles and utility. So while you might think farmhouse sinks and granite countertops are universally liked, they might not be as valuable to some buyers or, worse, could even turn the would-be right buyer off.

Related: Paint Your House This Color and it Could Sell for Almost $5,000 More: 

But, ultimately, it’s the steep costs that make the ubiquitous kitchen reno not worth it in the end. According to Zillow, the average kitchen investment will earn back just 50 cents on the dollar after selling. In comparison, a mid-range bathroom remodel—replacing the toilet, tub, and light fixtures, adding a double sink, tiling the floor, and adding wallpaper—could result in a $1.71 increase in home value for every dollar spent, if the bathroom is at least 25 years old.

So, if a home sale is on the horizon, consider this permission to save a few bucks on a costly kitchen renovation and put it toward less expensive, cosmetic updates instead. (Hello, paint.)