The Truth about Home Improvements and Resale Value

Let’s face it.  Selling a home today is much different than it was five or six years ago.  Prices have likely come down and the competition among homes on the market could be intense. It’s common for homeowners to consider renovation projects prior to putting their home on the market.

But if the sole purpose of your home improvements are for resale, your money could be better spent. Unless—and this is a big point—the home needs to be updated in order to compete.

Low Impact on Home Resale Value

According to, a majority of the most common home renovations offer a payback that is lower than the original investment:

Kitchen renovation: $43,860 (national average cost)
Kitchen payback: $39,920 ($91%)

New roof: $11,160
Roof payback: $9,460 (85%)

New windows: $9,680
Window payback: $8,680 (90%)

Bathroom renovation: $10,500
Bathroom payback: $10,730 (102%)

Before embarking on a renovation, you should consider finding a full-service real estate agent. Putting time and effort toward making a home look clean and crisp could be all you need to substantially improve your chances of getting a property off the market sooner.

Professional Advice

For instance, Coldwell Banker agents are typically well schooled in the art of homestaging: the practice of presenting a property in the best possible light to buyers so they can envision themselves living in the home.

An agent can also identify which major upgrades might be necessary (or not), recommend cosmetic updates that can help the resale potential of your home, and provide a valuable understanding of what other homes in the competing market look like to suggest affordable ways to modernize your home.

Your agent might advise you to update cabinetry hardware or faucets in a bathroom. Rooms that are completely antiquated may take extra work, of course, but often a few fixture upgrades, a new coat of paint and a few other subtle changes will frequently get the job done.

Check out this ‘How to Stage Your Home for Sale’ video:

“Buyers have ample options when it comes to homes to consider for purchase,” says Diann Patton, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker in Grass Valley, California. “This means home owners need to be that much more on top of taking care of their home, so that it is in top shape when they decide to put in on the market.”

Patton cites a consumer survey from Coldwell Banker that found 87 percent of recent first-time home buyers said a move-in ready home was important to them, which shows just how crucial these issues are.

Interior Fast Fixes

Below, Patton identifies some of the key issues that can seriously affect a home’s value, but can also be taken care of rather easily. Consider interior first impressions of the home:

  • Paint and walls. If you have faded paint and dirty interior walls, you’ll want to patch any holes and throw on a fresh coat of paint (note that dark or robust paint may turn a buyer off and can make a room feel gloomy or smaller than it actually is). Have your real estate professional or a staging professional give you an opinion on your current color scheme. Sometimes you’re too close to your own home to realize others may find your colors just too much—it’s ok to let go!
  • Lighting. Update your light fixtures. Beautiful options can be found inexpensively at places like Lowes and Home Depot these days. You’ll notice a world of difference with new, modern and brightly lit fixtures.
  • Tubs and sinks. Get rid of those unruly stains. If you have chipping, seek the help of a tub refinishing company. They can repair cracks, chips and holes so that you don’t have to replace the entire units. Dirty tile grout? Clean it up! White vinegar is a simple, inexpensive option for cleaning grout.
  • Clutter. Clean up and clear out clutter.  Rent a storage unit while your home is on the market to get all those extras off the property (not stuffed into your basement or garage). You’re going to have to move after all, why not pack it up and move it out now?


Another suggestion Coldwell Banker makes is to have your home pre-inspected. While the traditional home buying process has the inspection occurring just prior to closing, many homeowners are now conducting a home inspection ahead of listing their home to learn what might be wrong, and then have it fixed.

These are all powerful statements to make to potential home buyers who might have a lot of options to choose from. Your home essentially becomes “buyer ready” while others might have blemishes that could readily come to light.

Guest blogger Lindsay Listanski is the social media manager for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, a leader in full service real estate sales.