Home Improvement Value

Get the Most Bang for your Buck: Home Improvements

Before you plunk down the card at Home Depot or call the contractor, you need to ask yourself "Who am I improving this for?"  Dependent on your answer, you should seriously consider whether or not this project is right for you.  The bottom line is that you should go into any home improvement project with the mindset that you’re doing this for your own enjoyment, and not as a way to make money.
Often people dump a lot of money into a major renovation and then price their home so that they recover all of the costs only to find their home sits on the market for months without any buyers. It is reasonable to expect that improvements do increase the value of your home, but make sure you’re realistic with your expectations.

So, if you’re preparing your house for sale, what are the home improvements that will actually bring higher value and buyers to the table? 


Most buyers consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home. A kitchen dates a home faster than any other room, because kitchens follow trends.  For a full upgrade, you can expect a70-80% return on your investment.  But if you’re selling your home soon, and can’t afford a full renovation, any of these quick alternatives to a complete makeover are likely to pay for themselves.   

Updated appliances

New Countertops

Under cabinet lighting is a new way to highlight that new countertop.

Refinished cabinetry

Ceramic tile backsplash

Update the light Fixture.

Creating New Space

Improvements that increase the functional space of a home hold their value longer than ones that just make a house look better.  An investment in a finished basement will normally gain you 75% of the cost in actual value.   Converting an attic into a bedroom can return upwards of 75% of its cost.

Renovating a Bathroom

 Transform an ugly duckling into a swan of a master bath by updating tile, tub or shower or try finding more space.  Stealing space can be a better solution if you can find the extra square footage. Open up a closet to make more room, create separate his-and-her areas with separate sinks, or add a skylight to bring in valuable natural light. Don’t forget those fixtures.  Renovations to a bathroom usually return 75% of the value in an appraisal.   


Installing a deck may be the most cost-efficient way to add square footage to your house, and of all the outdoor home improvements except painting, it may be the most reliable value. Deck additions generally recoup 85% of their value.

Manicured Garden and Lawn

Make your yard look young!  Pull out overgrown bushes or hedges and replace them with smaller neatly trimmed greenery that makes the house look newer.  Be sure that the mulch is fresh and sidewalks trimmed. 

 Fancy gardens which will require time and money to tend usually won't add to the offering price. Landscaping is for your own enjoyment. It may be a $10,000 investment, but it won t add $10,000 to the value of your house. The same goes for expensive fences and stone walls. They look nice, but buyers don't pay up for them.

Basic Improvements

A fresh coat of paint, new blinds and carpet may bump up the appraisal, but these medium priced improvements can keep the buyer’s eye focused on the great things about your home and not nuisance issues like worn out blinds or a shockingly pink bathroom. 

Be cautious that you are not improving your home out of the market.  If you already have one of the higher appraised home in the neighborhood, comps may not be able to support a lot more value with your improvements.  In a slower market, improvements may help attract that scarce buyer, but may not raise the amount they offer.  If major improvements are on your plan, do them in time for you to enjoy them and not just stress about getting that money back.