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Which Home Improvements Pay for Themselves?

Painting a wall

Whether it's a larger kitchen for future holiday entertaining or a wave of inspiration after visiting your in-laws' new condo, you may find yourself ready to make some changes.

Replace Versus Remodel

When it comes to updating your home, the first question you need to ask yourself is, "How long do I plan to stay in this house?" You may be in your home for the duration, which means customizing it to your needs and personal tastes makes sense. While they may also represent an investment in your home—making it more comfortable and even more enjoyable for you—it's a good idea to think about which improvements will pay for themselves when you sell your home. The general rule of thumb is that unless you plan to stay in your home for more than five years, you should probably look at replacing rather than remodeling.

5 Quick Fixes to Revive Your Home

Many home improvements can make it easier to sell your home. How much you recoup will depend on your local market, but here are five relatively quick and inexpensive fixes that tend to offer the biggest bang for your buck, regardless of where you live.

  1. Insulation: Adding insulation to your attic improves your home's energy efficiency throughout the year. The savings in energy costs will help offset the expense, and you can typically expect to regain what you spent when you sell your home.
  2. Paint: A fresh coat of paint improves the look of any room or home. Changing colors or customizing a wall—even adding in some new pillows or rearranging furniture and artwork—can make you feel like you stepped into a new home. However, when you are ready to sell, you will want to use neutral colors to help potential buyers see themselves and their things at home in your house.
  3. Doors: Replacing your old garage door can drastically improve your home's curb appeal. A new steel entry door can provide a similar "facelift" while improving security. Both can also improve the way you feel about your house when you come home to it.
  4. Landscaping: Homes, like people, need to make a good impression, especially when they are on the market. For example, entrances should be inviting and well lit. An attractive outdoor space showcases the full extent of your property and helps prospective buyers envision how they will make use of the home. Hardscaping—installing patios and walkways—shouldn't be the last thing you do to your home. Rather, this step should be one of the first items on the list so you get to enjoy it, too.
  5. Resurfacing: Remodeling bathrooms and kitchens are expensive propositions. Given ever-shifting trends, they can also look dated within a few years. The return on the investment, therefore, tends to be lower. For resale purposes, refreshing the surfaces in a kitchen or bathroom may offer the better payback. Having grout cleaned, caulk repaired, and wood floors refinished can make a big difference. Similarly, resurfacing worn porcelain, replacing countertops, and re-staining or painting old cabinets can give rooms a fresh look.

While these fixes can make your home feel new again, they will also show that it is well maintained. Knowing they are looking at a well-kept home gives potential buyers fewer reasons to negotiate on price, which will also help you recoup more of your improvement investment.

How low will your payment be?