Getting the Most Return from Your Renovating Dollar

By Jim Hirschman Published 10/19/2007 | Real Estate

You're putting your house up for sale and it can definitely use some updating and improvements, but how far do you go? Do you initiate a full scale renovation from top to bottom or limit your changes to some painting and de-cluttering?

An updated, newly renovated home definitely increases your home's allure to prospective buyers, and you don't want people walking away because your house requires more updates than they are prepared to deal with. You also don't want to spend more money than you'll ever recoup on your investment. Here are some tips that will help you decide which renovations are worth your time and money.

The figures below will give you an idea of the potential for payback for renovations when a house is sold:

Kitchen - 78%
Bathroom - 71%
 Interior painting - 74%
  Exterior painting - 63%
   Main floor, family room addition - 55%
Flooring upgrades - 62%
Central air conditioning - 52%
Fireplace addition - 50%
  New heating system - 50%
  New windows - 48%
  Finishing the basement - 49%
  Landscaping - 35%
  Energy efficient features - 33%

Dollar for dollar, your best return is usually spent in the kitchen or the bathroom. The value of a fresh, paint job in neutral colors should not be undervalued; many prospective buyers have turned away from homes simply because of their outdated or unflattering wall coloring.

A kitchen should be bright, clean, functional and free of clutter. According to a 2006 Royal LePage survey, kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and brushed nickel finishes give you 44% better return on your investment. An alternative to replacing dingy, wooden cupboard doors may be a simple paint job, or having stained doors professionally cleaned. New handles and hinges can also make a world of difference. Any sign of water damage raises red flags and these should be repaired immediately.

The bathroom is the next most important room to consider when selling your home. Overall, spa-like bathrooms give you a 56% better return on your dollar. Not everyone is prepared to add that two person Jacuzzi tub, and unless it's in really bad shape, usually a new paint job, an updated shower curtain and fresh towels is all your bathroom may need. Instead of replacing a tub, you may want to consider having it reglazed, and toilets are quite reasonable to replace, if necessary. Cabinets can be freshened up with new paint and handles and you may want to consider replacing an old damaged floor as well.

Flooring is expensive, and unless they are in really bad shape, do not need to be replaced. Solid floors; however, should be gleaming and carpets well cleaned. Any squeaky floors should also be repaired or replaced.

Entryways,  lend to first impressions; they should be bright, maybe contain an eye catching accent or two, and have a roomy feel.

An outdoor deck or patio can add up to thousands of dollars in value on a home.

Does your home have curb appeal? Houses are bought and sold every day before the client even steps through the door. It's that emotional buy that says, "I love that house, it's just what I'm looking for". Mentally, that buyer has closed the deal before they even walk through the door. Curb appeal plays a big role in downplaying other deficiencies in the home.

This may not mean replacing the siding, but ensure the gardens are neat, the fences are painted and the overall appearance reflects a well maintained home.

The following areas provide little or no payback value upon sale:

  • Pools and spas
  • A renovation gone bad or not completed
  • Gaudy or overdone renovations in small homes

Make a list of general repairs that have to be completed and a list of the renovations that would contribute to the sale as well as give you a good return for your money. Get three quotes on the required work, or if you're doing the work yourself, make a budget of the cost of materials. Weigh this against the selling price of your home and make any necessary adjustments.

Let Jim Hirschman Realty,  professionally guide you through your Sarasota Real Estate purchase. Check his web site at to view all the Sarasota community listings, including Siesta Key real estate.