Answer: Do it on the Roof

If you are hearing a plucky guitar theme (boom chicka boom) and thinking of movies played late at night, get your mind out of the gutter!  

The question we’re investigating today is where you should put your renovation dollars when getting ready to sell your home.

Many realtors will tell you that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes.  And they are not wrong.  Why, you ask?  

Most likely because those are the rooms with the most fixtures.  Renovating a bad formica clad kitchen or a bathroom with avocado and mauve tile is a big job and many buyers won’t want to take it on.   

Other rooms in the house can typically be fixed with a little paint and moulding, so buyers aren’t as concerned about those kinds of updates.  

So if you want to get the most bang for your buck, the highest return on your investment, you should put all your money into a new kitchen and a super duper toilet with a heated seat that knows exactly how you take your coffee in the morning…right?  

Not exactly.

I’m afraid the real answer on where to put your money isn’t nearly as sexy as a new Viking range or a whirlpool soaking tub.


While money spent on kitchens and baths return a greater percentage of your money than upgrades elsewhere (usually between an 80%-90% return), they aren’t the main thing you should be worried about.  

As it turns out, boring old basic maintenance is what is really going to make your house sell.  Think about it this way – if your home needs a new roof, or siding or windows, will anyone care what the kitchen looks like?  Not if there is water in the basement and the A/C doesn’t work.

But what if you’ve been a good little homeowner and you’ve kept up on all the mundane maintenance?  What should you do to get more money from your home?

My first recommendation is to call your realtor and have her do a walk through with you – even if you aren’t selling for a good while.  No one knows the market like she does.  She not only knows what features your competition has but she probably works with buyers directly and knows exactly what they are looking for in your area and price range.  

Consider how long you will be in the house before you sell it.  If you will be there for another few years, spend the money on upgrades you will enjoy.  If you need a second family room, finish the basement.  If you love to cook, remodel the kitchen.


Then, even if you only recoup a percentage of your investment, you haven’t lost anything because you’ve gained the enjoyment of your upgrades for the remainder of your stay.

Think about adding a feature instead of upgrading.  A new bathroom or bedroom can easily increase the value of your home more than the cost of the renovation.  Click here to find out what makes a bedroom a bedroom. 


Appraisers compare your home to others with a similar number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage.  If you can add to any of these, you’re home will be in a higher class for the sake of valuation.

One thing you should keep in mind when planning a remodel, however, is the size and location of your home.  You don’t want to price yourself right out of your neighborhood, because you’ll never recoup your money if you put a $20,000 kitchen in $180,000 house.  Make sure your renovations are appropriate for your home and price range.

Even if you haven’t got a ton of money, a little elbow grease and some small repairs can go a long way.


Take a good hard look at the exterior of your home.  Is the landscaping overgrown?  Do the shutters need to be repainted?  Does the siding need a good powerwash? 


Many of these projects can be done for little or no money and they make a world of difference.  If buyers don’t like your house from the outside, they won’t bother coming inside.


On the interior, always consider a fresh coat of paint.  Fix any holes or scuffs and make sure the house is spic and span. 


Above all else, CLEAN sells!  It shows pride of ownership and a buyer will automatically assume you’ve maintained the home if it is clean and clutter free.

And above all else, once you do list, be ready to show at the drop of a hat.  Buyers often want to see a house with just a few hours notice so make sure your home is ready to go each day when you leave for work.

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