Projects with the best Return on Investment

I am often asked what projects should a homeowner focus on when it comes to getting their home ready for sale.  Here is where I think you should be focusing that money!

Now I realize that not everyone has an unlimited budget for prepping a home – and the same goes for unlimited time! So what I am going to do here is go by the projects with the highest returns first – so that you can focus on these areas and then go from there. Also, I get asked ALL the time in this Seller's market whether or not it is still worthwile doing renovations.

It is ALWAYS going to pay off to put your best foot forward. 

A good first impression is incredibly important.  Also, the homes we are seeing with multiple bids on them, are the ones that show much better than their competitors.  So YES, it is worth it to still do the work!

So let’s get into the projects:

Project with THE BEST ROI: Paint!

This project has the best ROI for a few reasons – first, it is not expensive to paint and it is relatively easy to do.  However, if done properly, painting can absolutely freshen up a home, add lightness to a home, and flatter certain aspects.  Now there are things you are going to want to consider when picking your paint – particularly colour and finish.  Be sure to consult with your Realtor to see what buyers are responding most positively to.  Also, you don’t necessarily need to paint the entire house.  In my experience, the best returns have often come from painting main living spaces such as living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.  Sometimes the primary bedroom, but rarely is there return on secondary bedrooms. According to a recent RE/MAX study, a fresh coat of paint typically garners a 60% return on your investment.

The Home’s Jewelry:

Another project that actually goes a long way can be a more minor update – but I like to call it changing your home’s “jewelry”.  In essence, if you have handles on your kitchen cupboards that are more dated, or old door knobs and handles, something as simple as swapping these out for newer, more modern options can change the look of the house.  You might want to freshen some other things up while you are at it – perhaps update a few light fixtures, but we aren't talking about going crazy here.  Changing your home’s jewelry combined with your paint, will really change the overall look of the rooms within your home!  While this is more difficult to estimate return, it is usually around the 50% return on investment.

Kitchen Refresh

Kitchen renovations always garner some of the largest returns when it comes to renovations. Makes sense - the kitchen really is at the heart of every home.  Adding new countertops or upgrading appliances can be relatively inexpensive upgrades that can have a huge impact. Again, talk to your Realtor before any major undertakings, because this needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  But on average, kitchen returns usually have anywhere from a 50-100% return depending on the project!  While the returns might be higher than some other projects, I’ve put this one lower in the list just because the expense of some projects – for example a slab of stone - can be quite costly!


There can also be huge returns when it comes to replacing flooring within your home.  In fact, the return can be closer to 150% of your investment – so why do I place this renovation nearer to the end of this list?  The reason really is because there are a few factors that must be considered.  First, what type of flooring are you doing?  Keep in mind, carpet does not have as strong of a return.  Buyers will prefer hardwoods, laminates, or luxury vinyl plank typically over carpets. Not necessarily in that order, either.  But the most important factor in all of this – is proper installation.  I cannot tell you how many homes I’ve shown where an owner has recently installed new flooring but it was poorly installed.  There are gaps in between floor boards, or they are inexperienced in placement of the planks and it looks awful. You are only going to hit those 150% returns on investment if you are buying flooring that is on trend and having it properly installed.  So again, be certain that you talk to your Realtor before taking on any such project. As a further note here too, if there is carpeting in your home that you intend to leave, BE SURE to have it professionally cleaned a few days prior to listing. 

Bathroom Renovations

A renovated bathroom has around a 60% return as well – but is a much more difficult undertaking when it comes to dealing with plumbing, tiling, etc.  The best returns are usually seen when you are redoing the primary bathroom – perhaps creating more of a spa-like atmosphere.  But the majority of those renovations do start around $12,000 and go upwards from there – hence why I have put this one lower in the list.

Curb Appeal

I actually saved the best for last! Curb appeal is so incredibly important and likely one of the best ROI’s out there.  Your buyer will already be forming an opinion as they approach your home.  Think of some inexpensive projects like trimming hedges, trees.  Planting some shrubs, repainting the front door, adding some planters, and freshening up any trim or paint. This goes a LONG way – and I would guesstimate has some even higher ROI although I couldn’t find any statistics to support this!  But I promise, I've seen homeowners add 10's of thousands of dollars by simply removing a few overgrown, cedar hedges!

So even once you’ve done all of these projects, there is still one more project that I highly recommend - Ensure your home is properly staged. 

Do you have your furniture placed in the right areas of the home to maximize how it shows?  Will it flow for a typical buyer’s needs?  Are you painting the proper blank canvas? Staging is paramount to making sure your home shows in its best light.  And I don’t mean you have to bring in new furniture or anything crazy like that, necessarily.  Oftentimes this means working with your existing furniture and just tweaking it.  But again, that is something your Realtor can comment on.  And if you don't have a Realtor yet, call me!

Real Estate Advice in Winnipeg, Manitoba#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945

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