8 Home Improvements to Make Before Selling

Written by Steven PorrelloSeptember 26th, 20224 minute read

Best exterior replacements | Best interior upgrades | Best energy efficiency upgrades

Home improvements can increase the resale value of your home and bring you more excited buyers. But not every renovation project will give you the best return on investment. Some will even cost you more to complete than the resale value they generate.

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Any time you're dealing with major home systems, like electrical wiring, you're better off using an expert. But you can save yourself some money on smaller tasks, like cleaning or replacing fixtures.

Best exterior improvements to boost curb appeal

A great first impression sets the entire mood of a buyer's tour. At minimum, make your home's exterior look clean and presentable. Clean your yard, landscape, and clean your gutters.

For a bigger impact, focus on replacing big-ticket items: Garage door | Entry door | Siding

Garage door replacement

Replacing ugly, damaged, or discolored garage doors will give you the highest ROI of any exterior replacements on this list. A new garage door can leave a great first impression that sets the entire mood of a buyer's tour.

Garage door ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $4,041

💸 Average resale value: $3,769
93.3% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $244

Based on a 16x7 ft. double door

Garage doors have load-bearing metal springs that need special installation to work properly. The national average for labor is only $300, well worth the cost for peace of mind.[1]

Entry door replacement (steel door)

Replace worn and weatherbeaten front doors to give off a fresh impression of security. An enameled steel door will give you maximum value: it's more durable than wood or fiberglass, doesn’t crack or warp from weather, and comes in multiple colors and styles.

Steel door ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $2,206

💸 Average resale value: $1,409
63.8% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $397–797 (DIY vs. pro)

Based on 1 prehung door

Installing steel doors requires minimum expertise. Hiring a professional will likely cost $400 more than doing it yourself.

Siding

If your home’s exterior has dents, cracks, and damage that no paint job could ever conceal, new siding can give it a major curb side boost. Although you’ll have to reach deep into your pockets, you can earn more than two-thirds back in resale value.

Exterior siding ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $18,662–22,093

💸 Average resale value: $12,541–15,090
67.2–68.3% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $5,261–6,000

Based on 1,200 sq. ft. of siding

You want an expert team that can remove current siding, dump it in the appropriate waste facility, and re-side the house within a short time.

Which siding is the best value?

Best overall cost: Vinyl. It’s durable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain.

Best for durability and resale value: Fiber cement. It lasts, on average, 50 years. It costs more than vinyl, your recouped cost slightly higher would likely be higher as well.

Replacing entire siding vs. individual panels

You might be able to lower your costs by replacing individual panels that are damaged or broken. However, if the entire shell looks weatherbeaten and worn, it might be best to re-side the whole house.

Best interior home improvements for design

Creating a neutral, inviting environment lets buyers envision themselves in the space. Start by cleaning and staging your home, improving the lighting, updating broken fixtures, and repainting any worn walls.

For a bigger impact, focus on upgrading the spaces you use most often: Flooring | Kitchen | Bathroom

Hardwood floors

Updating carpet or worn-out wood boards with hardwood floors can help your home retain its value. One study suggests it could even improve its value by 2.5%). Depending on where you live, hardwood floors might be the norm, not a luxury.

Hardwood floors ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $6,000–12,000

💸 Average resale value: $4,200–9,600
70–80% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $1,800–2,400

Based on 1,000 sq. ft. of flooring

A professional team is costly, but it’s worth the price. It really does take an expert’s eyes to arrange hardwood floorboards in a way that’s appealing and beautiful — and without warping or damaging them.

Minor kitchen renovation

Kitchen upgrades typically have a high rate of return, but the upfront cost can be staggering. To get maximum ROI, focus on changing out essential features: replacing old appliances with energy-efficient ones, improving the functional layout, updating the design, and so on.

Upgraded kitchen ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $28,279

💸 Average resale value: $20,125
71.2% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $7,287

Based on costs for major appliances, flooring, finishes, and hardware

You can easily update certain parts of your kitchen by yourself, such as painting, replacing faucets, and installing new backsplash. But if the job requires plumbing or electrical work, you should hire a professional.

Don’t go overboard

Some kitchen remodeling projects cost up to $120,000. But you don’t have to spend that much to get maximum ROI.

If you’re not sure what to upgrade, talk to your real estate agent to get a second opinion.

Minor bathroom renovation

Most of the cost of a bathroom renovation will cover labor costs, as bathrooms often contain a sensitive network of pipes and electrical systems.

Upgraded bathroom ROI

⚒️ Average job cost: $27,164

💸 Average resale value: $15,990
58.9% recouped
🤑 Net cost: $9,753

Based on a 5x7 ft. bathroom

For tasks like moving a toilet or light fixtures, you should hire an expert. You can do other jobs, like repainting or replacing faucets, yourself.

Best upgrades for energy efficiency

Tankless water heater

A tankless water system heats only the water that you actually use. This can save homeowners over 50% on their utility bills when compared to a water tank system, which heats a tank of water regardless of how much you use.

💧 Average energy savings
⚒️ Average job cost
24–34%
$2,261

One study by Zillow found that tankless water heaters added 4% more value to homes.[2] Many areas legally require you to hire a professional to install tankless water heaters since the process involves sealing harmful chemicals.

Attic insulation

Homes that are under-insulated typically have higher energy costs than those that are not. Proper attic insulation helps homes stay warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and dry when it rains.

🌟 Average energy savings
⚒️ Average job cost
10–50%
$2,000–4,000

Many sites claim that new attic insulation can get you over 100% in resale value are usually installment companies Still, for the low upfront cost, you'll likely get a high ROI.

Although adding insulation materials might seem easy, you may need an expert’s guidance on how much to add and how much current insulation to remove.

👋 Next steps: Talk to an expert!

If you're weighing your options for buying or selling a house, our friends at Clever Real Estate can help! Clever's fully licensed concierge team is standing by to answer your real estate questions and help you:

  • Find the best local buyers agents with no obligation
  • Create a list of questions to ask your realtor before signing a contract
  • Make a strategy for buying another home before selling yours.
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Summary

  • Focus on home improvement projects that will give you the highest return on your investment.
  • The best exterior projects include replacing your doors and siding.
  • The best interior projects include updating your bathroom, kitchen, and floor.
  • To increase the energy efficiency in your home — while also minimizing your costs — consider insulating your attic or adding a tankless water heater.