Home Selling

Worth It and Not Worth It Updates to Your Home

By Ashley Wirgau on July, 25 2022
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Ashley Wirgau

It seems like everyone has a house project in the works these days, especially those preparing to sell. Once people were faced with the view inside their own walls for days on end, homeowners started realizing those walls weren’t living up to their potential. 


But with all of the possibilities peeking out from every corner, how does a homeowner know which updates are a smart investment when selling a house? Luckily, Ruoff knows homes and is pretty good at discerning which projects are worth it and which ones can wait.


Best Bang for your Buck


Changes to Landscaping

Believe it or not - landscaping updates provide one of the best values out there when it comes to home improvements. If you are considering putting a property on the market, beautifying your yard can offer a return on your investment typically above 100 percent. First off, the majority of outdoor projects are homeowner-friendly, meaning you aren’t locked in to high labor costs or mark-ups. Most of what you need can be found at a local greenhouse or landscape supply company, and for larger areas, discounts are often available when ordering in bulk. Well-planned landscaping increases curb appeal, encouraging potential buyers to take a look inside. Vibrant flowers and interesting vegetation heighten a home’s aesthetic and suggest that extra care has been taken with the home’s exterior and interior.


Tackle the Bathroom

Both minor updates and major renovations to bathrooms will hold their value over time, so even if you aren’t planning to sell tomorrow, a bathroom re-do is a solid choice although a lot depends on the area in which you live. For the highest return, consider pursuing smaller updates like a coat of paint, vanity upgrade, new flooring, or the correction of any existing issues (leaky faucets are not invited to the open house). When considering larger renovations, make a bathroom more accessible or add a new half or full bath to a property with two or fewer toilets to bring about the highest returns.


Whip Up a New Kitchen

Kitchen renovations can be intimidating, and given their potentially large scale, homeowners sometimes shy away from taking them on. Those in the market to sell, though, should take another look at easy updates that could add significant value to their property. Minor kitchen remodels have been shown to produce anywhere from 80-95 percent ROI, plus you get the pleasure of using that fancy new kitchen for yourself (until the new owners come knocking). Adding a simple DIY backsplash or a shiny coat of paint to tired cabinets can increase a property’s potential for sale. New hardwood or even vinyl plank flooring will also increase a home’s value, as will a freshening up of outdated or faulty appliances.


Adding a Garage

Like most renovations, the addition of a garage can come at a hefty price. That being said, for properties located in areas with less-than-ample parking or those in northern locales with fierce winters, the addition of a garage to a home where none currently exists can be a game-changer when it comes time to sell. Building an attached garage is a bit more involved, while adding a detached, stand-alone option is oftentimes an easier and less expensive task. Determine if a pole barn style structure or a stick-built garage is more in line with your vision. Then, decide whether you will handle the project on your own or hire it out. This project does require a fair amount of lead time, though, so do not leave it to the last minute when putting a house on the market. Depending on the type of structure you choose, builds can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks, so you might want to get going.


Worst ROI Home Improvements


Bypass the Bedrooms

Surprisingly, renovating a bedroom does little to hike the price of your home. While these updates might look nice on a walk-through, they rarely tend to produce the kind of ROI results that a kitchen or bath upgrade will. A coat of paint or new light fixture won’t hurt that resale value either, but leave the larger projects like flooring installs or closet builds for the next owner. They likely have a vision that is tied to their own personal preferences and tastes, so whatever work you put in before the sale is likely to be redone after the transfer of ownership.


And the Bonus Rooms…

The same is true for bonus rooms. While you love the new home office space you created, the next owner might prefer a workout room, crafting space, or guest quarters. When it comes to extra rooms in the house, less is more, allowing potential buyers to see their own dreams for the property within the space at hand. Staging a bonus room with a few basic furniture pieces and mostly bare walls helps create a blank canvas for new owners to see themselves at home in your home.


Leave the Living Room Alone

Another area that just isn’t worth the cost of a remodel? The living room. Holding an ROI around 40-50 percent, the living room or family room really isn’t the place to spend your hard-earned dollars when preparing to sell. These locations within a house are not what push the property, so as long as everything is in working order and there are no glaring issues (i.e. holes in the drywall, water stains, broken fixtures), leave it as is and spend your time with upgrades on the stars of the show outlined above.


Home projects are plentiful, and when it comes to determining a concrete ROI for a given renovation, the property’s location plays a huge role. Houses in bustling cities with high-property values and little inventory fare differently than areas of the rural Midwest where markets have wider offerings available. For a more accurate picture of which projects are worth your time and money, consult Remodeling’s Cost Vs. Value data to see if your particular job in your particular area will yield the return you are hoping for. Then, get to work! Your house’s eager next owner is waiting.