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Top 4 Most Important Improvements to Make When Fixing Up a Home to Sell

by Jon Silver

Homeowners who are getting ready to sell their home obviously want to get as much money as possible when flipping your home. This means paying for improvements, but which improvements are most important? Which ones will return the most on investment? And which ones will attract the highest number of potential buyers?

Below are recommendations from the experts.

Note: Before considering any upgrades, think about what your home is worth as well as the homes of your neighbors. Also know what features those houses have, if possible. You should not overspend on a less expensive house. For example, putting a $20,000 stove in a $210,000 house is not going to be a good investment.

That said, here we go:

#1 The Kitchen and Bathroom

In many hot housing markets, doing a reasonably priced upgrade of the kitchen and master bath room is usually a strong investment. In some cases, you can recoup more than 100% of the cost. For example, recent surveys in Baltimore MD found that a $9500 bathroom upgrade returned more than 180% of the cost at resale.

Markets such as Washington DC, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta also had more than 100% returns on investment for a bathroom enhancement. Further, minor kitchen upgrades in the $15,000 range saw a 100% return on investment or higher.

Experts tell us that kitchens and baths are where people see if money spent on the home was properly spent. They are the most expensive parts of the house, as far as construction costs and materials.

Some of the kitchen and bath improvements to focus on, experts say, are:

  • All wood cabinets
  • Commercial-looking appliances, such as stainless steel
  • Natural wood or stone floors
  • Stone countertops

For bathrooms:

  • Walk in shower rather than a small shower and whirlpool tub. Experts note that few people feel they have the time to take a bath. Why give away square footage to a rarely used item?
  • Floor to ceiling steam shower

However, do not spend money redoing the bathroom if it is a one bathroom home. Spend that money on adding another bathroom.

#2 Basic Home Maintenance

A shiny upgraded kitchen and bathroom are great selling features, but they lose their shine if water is dripping on them from the ceiling. Your top priority when getting your house ready to sell should be to take care of the major systems:

  • Roof
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Foundation

Experts say that they have seen homes where $50,000 was spent on kitchen upgrades, but there were foundation problems leading to water leaks in the basement. They stress that taking care of essential systems should be the priority on upgrades.

Remember that the typical buyer has limited cash and they want to know that they will not have to spend $20,000 next year to replace the roof. If the major systems are in good shape, your buyer is more likely to write a contract.

Another thing to remember is that up to 70% of buyers say they plan to remodel the home anyway. At least 40% of buyers make home improvements of their own within six months of the sale.

For many homes on the East Coast, the ROI on a new roof at selling time is 96%, while in the Midwest, it is only 71%.

#3 Improve Curb Appeal

If the home does not look attractive from the street, buyers may never see that pretty kitchen.

Some realtors in the business for years state that curb appeal needs to be strong. Consider adding a front porch to create more interest on the front of the home. Replacing siding also can help resale a lot.

Having a neat, tidy yard with nice grass, bushes and flowers also is a major plus and will get lookers into the home.

#4 Add Space

If you have the room and the budget, adding a bedroom or expanding the family room can be a great choice. Some of the demand occurs in hot housing markets, such as Northern Virginia, where people need more space for their family but cannot afford to buy a bigger home.

Experts say that every 1000 square feet added to a home will increase the home's value by 30% or more.

As far as which additions add the most value:

  • Bathrooms – 86%
  • Attic or basement bedroom – 70%
  • Larger family room or sunroom – 80%

While more space is a big plus when selling the home, you should not add so much space that it makes your house the most expensive in the neighborhood. You would be unlikely to recoup your investment in that case.

Bottom Line

Getting the best possible sales price for your home is largely a matter of making the best-ROI improvements to the home at the best price. Keep these four areas in mind to turn the most profit at the closing table. provides a news and information service by offering editorial content related to the housing and mortgage industry. This website is not responsible for the accuracy of information or responsible for the accuracy of the rates, APR or mortgage guidelines posted by advertising banks, lenders and brokers.

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