Home Repairs That Pay You Back When You Sell

Which home improvements and repairs are worth the investment when you're getting ready to sell your home?

May 17, 2014 at 11:45AM

In most cases, making home improvements right before you list your home to sell is a losing proposition. You won't get a decent return on your investment. You'll be lucky to break even.

The sad truth about major remodeling projects
Experts have studied the return on investment in common home-improvement projects, and the results are in. For 2014, according to Remodeling magazine, you'll do well to recoup 49% of the costs of a remodeled home office. A major kitchen remodel that costs more than $50,000 does a little better: You may recoup 75% of your outlay. A good new front door has one of the highest recoup rates at about 97%.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't make strategic improvements to your home before you sell. Put yourself in home buyers' shoes and imagine their first impressions as they step into your entryway. Making sure these things are in top shape can help you sell your home more quickly. Also look for areas that are out of line with the overall quality of your home. And definitely remove the "ew!" factor whenever possible if something is garish, dumpy, or impossible to clean.

If you watch your costs and have good taste, careful improvements and repairs should more than pay you back when you sell your home.

Higher-return upgrades
Consider these home improvements before you put your home on the market:

  • On the exterior, a new coat of paint will give your house the curb appeal it needs to sell quickly.
  • Don't forget to spruce up the yard. Even if you have to get a professional landscaper to do it, make sure everything is cut, pruned, trimmed, and mulched. Keep your grass trimmed without scalping it, and keep those dandelions at bay.
  • The kitchen, in general, is the best place to invest money in your house. However, you don't need to spend 50 grand. Concentrate on what people see first. The condition of your cabinets can make or break the sale. Cabinets that are more than 15 years old may need to be replaced if you want to get top dollar for your house. In a modestly priced home, make sure the cabinets are clean and polished and consider new hardware, or even a paint job.
  • Countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms make a house stand out from the crowd. If you replace your cabinets, you'll be replacing the countertops anyway. If the countertops are in poor condition, replace them. If you can afford it, a solid surface (especially granite) will wow the buyers every time. Replace tile countertops that are more than 10 years old, unless you plan to spend money restoring the grout. If you have tired old countertops, you may hear your potential homebuyer's partner say, "But honey, the other house had granite countertops!"
  • Check all windows to make sure they work, none are cracked or broken, screens are in good condition, and the glass is clean, inside and out. This is important because you want to open all curtains and blinds to let the light in when you show the house, making your home a bright and cheerful place to live.

Must-do home repairs
Certain home repairs are not optional, however. If neglected, these repairs may even be required by the home inspector -- after you negotiate a price:

  • Check for water intrusion of any kind or stains from old ones.
  • Make sure toilets flush properly.
  • See that all faucets function properly with no dripping.
  • See that your sinks drain quickly.
  • Fix any doors that rub on the frame or the floor.
  • Fill and touch up cracks.
  • Look in attic or crawl space and fix any leaks, trash, rodent activity and make sure all insulation is in place.
  • Lightly clean off the roof and clean out the gutters.
  • Replace the furnace filter.
  • Clean the oven.

Your home may be your largest investment. Make sure you know which remodeling projects won't pay you back when you sell, which strategic home improvements give you the best return or help move your home faster, and the home repairs you must make to close the deal.

How to get even more income during retirement
Social Security plays a key role in your financial security, but it's not the only way to boost your retirement income. In our brand-new free report, our retirement experts give their insight on a simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule that can help ensure a more comfortable retirement for you and your family. Click here to get your copy today.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers