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How to Add Value to Your Home: Top Renovation Projects

Point Equity

Are you getting your home ready to sell?  Yes, there's science and data behind projects you should (and should not) do to get your home ready for sale.  Read this article to learn about the best renovation projects that add value to your home.

Sure, you fell truly madly deeply in love with your home when you bought it.  It was perfect.  But now that you're ready to sell, you're looking at it from a different perspective - the "how can I sell this home for top dollar" perspective. 

Hey, it's good to be a seller in a seller's market, but buyers have a choice too - so do the things that will make sure they choose your home.  Don't just throw granite all over the kitchen, create a luxury master suite, and turn the backyard into a tropical paradise.

Instead, as we said in the beginning, stop and read this article.  Then, plan out renovations that will move the value needle in the direction you want.


While there are geographic differences in which renovations add more value than others, some universal recommendations exist.  Renovations magazine creates a Cost vs. Value chart listing the top-recommended home renovations every year.  Check out the 2021 chart now.

Out of the top 10 renovations, only one involves the home interior - and that's a minor kitchen remodel (emphasis on Minor.)  This is #3 on the list, with an average cost of $26,214 in 2021, returning 72.2%. 

The rest of the list focuses on creating a great first impression by polishing up the exterior of your home. 

Number one on Renovation Magazine's list is replacing the garage door, an average cost of $3,907 in 2021, returning 93.7% of its original cost at resale. Number two is upgrading the siding with manufactured stone veneer, estimated at $10,386 (2021) with a 92.1% return. 

The remaining top renovations for increasing the value of your home are: 

  • Fiber-Cement siding
  • Vinyl Windows
  • Vinyl Siding
  • Wood Windows
  • Wood Deck
  • Steel Front Door
  • Composite Deck
  • Fiberglass grand entrance
  • Roof Replacement with asphalt shingles
  • Bathroom Remodel - midrange and major
  • Major Kitchen Remodel
  • Roof Replacement with metal

And way down at number 18 on the list is a master suite remodel that only gives a 54.7% return in value.


Cliche alert - you never get a second chance at a first impression.  If you don't realize how important that is to a potential buyer, take a second look at that list. If you have limited funds to work with, consider sprucing up your homes' exterior.

One suggestion is to reduce the cost of replacing the garage door by reusing the existing motor.  And what about the front door?  You may not need a steel door (#9 on the list), but how about widening the entrance to accommodate a new entry with sidelights?

It doesn't take a lot of cash to focus on cleaning, painting, and planting. Clean out gutters, flower beds, and old mulch. Add flowering shrubs and fresh mulch everywhere. Don't forget to take a hard look at your mailbox and house numbers and upgrade if they need it.


Many of our clients talk about two significant renovations they plan on making before they list their homes for sale - kitchen and bathroom remodel.  But these two projects fall pretty low on the 2021 Cost vs. Value list.  It makes sense to go with more cosmetic and minor upgrades.

These minor upgrades and cosmetic fixes can include painting the cabinets, modernizing the hardware and light fixtures, and giving them a fresh coat of paint.  If you paint, stick to neutral colors - gray, beige, or greige walls and white trim.  Or, look at these recommendations  for interior paint colors.

Fix anything visibly cracked or broken in your home, like tiles.  Not only does that scream, "the buyer will need to fix this," but it also makes your home appear worn.  If you have extra funds available, consider upgrading the appliances in the kitchen and adding new plumbing fixtures to the bathrooms.


Another project that can add enough value to your home is anything that improves energy efficiency.  Some changes can have a higher price tag, like changing out old windows to double-paned. 

It would be best if you also sealed any cracks around existing doors and windows.  Check the light sockets and electrical outlets for openings and fill those areas to prevent energy loss.

If you have an older home, we're safe assuming it's not "smart" unless you've added these features.  Some smart features that are high on today's buyer's list are smart thermostats (which also improve energy efficiency) and the added security from smart doorbells.

Please don't go overboard with the techie bells and whistles, though, unless it's an expected upgrade in your area.  However, if some new things-ma-jig hits the market at an affordable price point - consider installing them.  It might be the one feature that sets your home apart from the competition.


Now head back outside to focus on what can be fixed or repaired in your backyard.  First, take a look at the deck if you have one. A deck offers some additional living space, and that's a big plus for today's buyer.  So repaint and replace wood, if it's needed. 

If your home doesn't have a deck, it might be good to price out adding one.  But if there's already an outdoor area, you can fix it up to provide the extra living space - do that instead.  Consider adding a fire pit, freestanding fireplace, or a small outdoor kitchen.

And what about a pool?  Pools are a controversial topic when looking at the return of value for the cost of investment.  The best time to add a pool is when you first move into a home so you can enjoy it.  However, if you live in a warmer climate, a pool can add to your home's resale value.  And a pool/spa combo is an even better return.


Do what needs to be done to get your home in a pristine condition version of its best self.  Then look at your budget, what's important to homebuyers in your area, and the projects that bring the best value for the cost.

Also, consider what a seller's market means in your area. If competition is stiff when you list your home, you can save your money because buyers will be happy to have their offer accepted AS IS.

Ultimately, working with an experienced real estate professional will be the best guide to making the best home renovations to increase your home's value. Start there!

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