The real estate market continues to be hot. While buyers are eager and bidding wars common, sellers stand to score even better offers with some well-chosen renovation projects. If you're thinking of listing your home, where should you spend your home improvement budget?
"Before determining the best way to invest in your home, take stock of what truly needs work," said Mischa Fisher, Chief Economist at Angi, in a statement provided to The Motley Fool. He recommends prioritizing your property's needs before diving into anything else you might want for the space. "With a home, there might be repairs that seem small or insignificant now but that could become much bigger, riskier, and more expensive if they're ignored for too long," Fisher says.
Need some inspiration? Fisher recommends these renovation projects that offer plenty of bang for your buck.
1. Apply a fresh coat of paint
A fresh paint job can make your home look and smell new, Fisher says. For interiors, opt for light neutrals that help potential buyers see the space as a blank canvas. When it comes to choosing a color for your living room, Fisher says you can increase your home's value up to $2,000 if you choose a color like gray, light brown, or beige. Pale shades of blue, green, and cream are best for bathrooms -- in fact, blue could increase resale by more than $5,000.
Curb appeal is key with buyers, so consider painting the exterior as well -- neutrals work well here, too. If you'd rather keep it to a smaller project for the exterior, then just repaint the door. This time, choose something dark like charcoal gray or even black -- it's enough to increase resale by over $6,200 on average, according to a 2018 Paint Colors Analysis by Zillow.
2. Renovate the kitchen and bath
Upgraded kitchens and baths are a surefire way to attract buyers. Redo yours and score a 70% return on investment (ROI) for the kitchen and 60% for the bathroom. If time or budget constraints keep you to just one room, go with the kitchen -- Fisher says about two-thirds of homeowners will be fine with putting an offer on a home that has an outdated bathroom if the kitchen is redone.
3. Install smart home devices
Smart thermostats and video doorbells might not be the most time-consuming or expensive upgrade, but they will score points with buyers. In fact, smart home technology installations topped the list of most popular home projects last year, according to Angi's State of Home Spending report.
4. Replace the windows
New windows add to both the interior and exterior aesthetic of your home. More importantly, they provide security and help you save on heating and cooling costs. Replace yours with energy-efficient double-pane models and you'll score an ROI of almost 70%. No need to replace every single one if it's not in the budget; a Pella retailer website instead recommends replacing a few key ones, like those that face the front.
Small upgrades can make a big difference
Don't discount smaller upgrades with the potential for big impact, according to Fisher. A DIY-friendly one is to replace door handles or kitchen cabinet hardware. Adding attic insulation and installing energy-efficient appliances, including low-flow toilets, can also pay off at resale -- plus save current owners some money until then, too.
Fisher recommends an inspection to determine anything that needs a fix -- then take care of it. "This will not only improve your home's value, but also ensure no surprises come up when the buyers do their inspection," he said.