How To Add Value To Your Home When You’re Ready To Sell


Feel like your house would benefit from a refresh before you put it up for sale by owner? It can be a savvy strategy for many, depending on your market. But it’s important to consider what adds value before you start looking around for home remodel ideas. We have some guidelines to help you get the most bang from your remodeling buck.

Does Remodeling Increase Home Value?

While remodeling your home will typically increase its value, the amount depends on the remodel itself (we have more on that later). However, other factors that are out of your control include the existing market conditions, such as your current competition and recent previous sales, but also the opinion of a buyer, which can be impossible to gauge. “You have to be careful about spending more on remodeling than the market will return,” says Christopher Pagli, associate real estate broker with William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown, N.Y. “Just because you spent a bundle on your remodel doesn’t mean you will necessarily get that back when your house hits the market,” he cautions.

Chelsea E. Ialeggio, an agent in Marin County, California, agrees that the answer to what adds value to home could be on a case-by-case basis, as you assess your particular market. “Ask yourself if you are able to take the risk of not seeing a return on investment if the property doesn’t sell at a certain price,” she advises.

And, believe it or not, some home “improvements” might actually detract, such as adding a pool, reminds Melanie Hartmann, owner and CEO of Creo Home Solutions, in Baltimore, Maryland, who has extensive experience in fixing and flipping homes.

Which Home Improvements Add The Most Value?

So with that word of caution out of the way, let’s proceed to the good news – thebest ways to add value to home. You may be surprised to find that they are perhaps not the ones you’d immediately think of.

In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 “Cost vs. Value” report, the No. 1 home improvement that will have the largest return on investment is updating your garage door – offering a near-perfect 97% ROI. Proving that curb appeal is hot, adding manufactured stone veneer also scores in the 90s with a 94% ROI.“Think of the outside of your home like the cover of a book,” says Hartmann. “Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression; the more appealing it is, the more offers it will attract, and thus the more value it will bring.”

Looking beyond mere dollars and cents, kitchens and baths tend to bring a good ROI, says Pagli. He also believes that “big-ticket items,” while costly, can add a lot of value, again depending on your local market. Specific ideas include adding a bedroom, bath or deck; or upgrading your roof and windows.

“Highlighting these improvements in the listing should increase the marketability of the home,” he says. You also might want to underscore any energy-saving benefits they offer, to help keep bills low throughout the year.

How Can I Add Value To My House?

While those larger upgrades are smart, Hartmann believes that anything that packs a lot of punch for minimal effort or money are the best ways to add value to your home. And remember, if you are in the market to sell, you don’t need to look toward your own tastes, but rather think about what will be appealing to your potential buyer.

Hartmann says that major renovations, when done correctly, will add value to your home; however, rarely will the entire costs be fully recouped so it’s best to stick to low-cost remodeling techniques that pack a big punch as you prepare to sell. “If you are unsure on what styles are popular, look to rehabbed houses that have sold recently in your area to see what materials may be best to use in your house,” she says.

How Can I Increase The Value Of My Home For Cheap?

First start with the very easiest: “A clean, well-organized home that has been styled will always present in a much more attractive manner,” notes Ialeggio. And then you can move on to cosmetic improvements.

Here are some top home remodel ideasto try:

  • Refresh the basics, such as upgrading light fixtures and hardware and adding modern window treatments, recommends Pagli.
  • Paint the walls a neutral color that will have mass appeal. “This advice is tried and true for a reason,” says Hartmann, who adds that in 2020, paint trends are anticipated to remain neutral while transitioning to more natural colors other than gray.
  • Refinish or paint kitchen cabinets, especially if they are solid wood cabinets from the ’70s, says Pagli. Just make sure to use a paint formula specifically designed for cabinets.
  • Invest in light landscaping, such as adding color with seasonal plants and fresh mulch. Other easy and unique touches include painting or adding window shutters and window boxes. “This is appealing to potential buyers, as the outside of a home is strong indicator of how well the house itself has been kept,” Hartmann says.
  • Care for your floors. Hopefully a good professional cleaning may be all it takes to make your carpet look and feel brand new again, says Hartmann, although she recommends replacing it if it’s more than 5 years old. If you are looking into new floor treatments, she says that buyers tend to be attracted to easy-to-clean flooring, such as vinyl planks, tile or hardwood, particularly in the areas of the home that get the most foot traffic.

Of course, no matter what updating you do, the most important things to consider when adding value to your home are your budget and goals.