One of the most common questions I get in the real estate world is “Will this improvement add value to my home?”

My answer is usually “Yes, but….”

That “but” is big in this situation. Doing improvements will increase home value. But it probably will cost you more than it’s going to make you.

Most major home improvements, like vaulting ceilings, adding a bedroom or bathroom, or replacing windows, will not net you anywhere close to how much you spend on them. In fact, a lot of these improvements will only pay you back maybe 50% of the original cost.

This is, of course, if you have it professionally done. I strongly suggest hiring out major improvements and working with a reputable contractor, unless you really know what you’re doing. If things are done half-assed, it could actually end up costing you more money, or worse, resulting in injury. But if you can do something well yourself, the potential for making money from improvements increases.

So what does that mean for you? It may not be worth it to shell out for improvements if only for the purpose of increasing the value of your home. If you’re going to live in the home for an extended period of time after the improvement is done and you want it for your own enjoyment, by all means, the feature is worth it. But if it’s only to make more on the sale of your home, then I strongly suggest that you reconsider.

That said, there are indeed some things that will help you get more money out of your home. Many of these are focused around smaller details that improve curb appeal and make the buyer feel as if the home has been well-maintained. The following are my best tips for selling your home when it comes to making improvements.

Repaint in a Neutral Color
Painting the interior walls of the home provides a clean canvas for the new buyers and lends a bright, open feeling. This doesn’t cost a ton and can help buyers to really see the full potential of your home. This is especially true if you have a funky taste in colors that may not work for most buyers – a neutral like gray or tan appeals to more people.

Make Necessary Repairs

No one wants to inherit someone else’s to-do list. Make sure all minor repairs have been done before buyers view your home. You might even want to have a pre-listing home inspection so that you know beforehand what may be asked for on repair addendums. Even something like tightening up loose door knobs can assist in the buyer feeling confident that the house has been maintained over time.

Consider New Flooring

If professional cleaning of existing carpet just isn’t going to do the trick, it may be worth investing in new carpet or some type of hard flooring. Sometimes that’s the only way to address lingering pet odors! Some types of flooring will yield a better return on your investment when it’s time to sell and this can be dependent upon a few factors (e.g., price point of the home, neighborhood, trending buyer preferences), so consider consulting with a real estate expert in your area before you make a decision here.

Install a New Front Door or Garage Door

Replacing either or both of these can dramatically change the appearance of the home, giving it a fresh feel. And if you don’t currently have an automatic garage door opener, you might want to have that installed at the same time as a new garage door – it is a minor additional cost that provides massive convenience for most folks.

Update Fixtures and Hardware

Take a walk through your home and look at light fixtures, sink fixtures, cabinet hardware, door knobs, switch plates, etc. See any that clearly date your home? Maybe that hallway light cover is original to the house…from the 70s. It doesn’t cost much to replace it and will make the home feel more updated. The same applies to kitchen hardware; you don’t have to renovate the entire kitchen as that costs tens of thousands that you won’t necessarily get back. Replacing the cabinet and drawer pulls adds a nice touch that buyers can appreciate, without breaking the bank.

Stage Your Home

Home improvements should not be confused with home staging. Getting your home picture perfect is different from remodeling your kitchen! There are specific things you can do to dramatically change the appearance of your home without spending a dime, and these include:

•    Decluttering – Get rid of things you don’t need so your home doesn’t look so full of stuff.
•    Organizing – You don’t have to hire a professional organizer, but take some time to make things look more neat and orderly within your home, especially the kitchen.
•    Moving furniture – You want buyers to be able to walk easily through your home. If you have a sofa blocking part of a walkway or an obtrusive fake plant, this can make people feel as if there is not enough space in the home. Consider opening up the space by slightly rearranging some of the furnishings that are preventing the home from having a good flow.

While you always want to get the most money when selling your home, it’s a common misconception that major home improvements are the best way to increase home value. It’s often the smaller, less expensive items that help the most. If you’re ready to sell your home and want to consult with a local Realtor to help guide you through the pre-listing process and give you more tips for selling your home, contact me at 971-645-2019 or email me at