Dreaming of that New Kitchen or Bath? What Renovations Really Pay Off?

Maria Marconi-Fricano Designated Managing Broker January 1, 2016

Dreaming of that New Kitchen or Bath? What Renovations Really Pay Off?Owners of older homes dream of updating or modernizing kitchens and baths. In fact, before they place their homes on the market, some folks go to all the effort to update the kitchen they’ve been meaning to redo for years … only to have someone else enjoy it.

The challenge can be when the update is for the purpose of increasing your home’s marketability or resale value. In that case, does the renovation really pay off? Here are some things to consider before you tackle that upgrade or renovations just to sell your property.

When it adds value:

Anything that increases your usable square footage adds value to your home. So, if you finish a basement or an attic space, add a wing or just extend a single room, that extra space can increase your home’s market value. Adding a bathroom or bedroom is a substantial improvement that changes a home’s category. A four-bedroom home with three full baths has more market value than a similar home with only two baths, or three bedrooms.

The biggest bang for you buck, however, can come from making some simple changes.

Consider this: a new front door, on average, adds up to 96.6 percent of the amount you will spend on it to the value of your home. Of course, you’ll need to pay attention to which door will enhance your home and which might look like an afterthought, but the right new door adds instant curb appeal. In fact, even painting the front door can bring a significant improvement (without the extra expense of replacing it).

Other improvements, such as replacing windows or worn and discolored siding can yield a greater return than an expensive kitchen remodel.

Minor kitchen upgrades, on the other hand, can add back over 82 percent to the value of what you spend on them. A “minor” kitchen upgrade can be as simple as new cabinet doors and hardware, or new appliances, an updated counter surface and sink, or new fixtures.

Determining if it’s worth it: 

A $75,000 kitchen remodel on a $250,000 home will not yield anywhere near that additional value to your home, especially if all of the other homes in the neighborhood are in the same price range. So, if you upgrade it while you’re living in it because your love to cook and want the perfect kitchen … the value is your enjoyment of the upgrade. Don’t expect it to increase your home’s resale value by that much though when the time comes to sell.

Bathroom upgrades are as important as kitchen upgrades when it comes to selling your home for top dollar, however, it’s also another area to use caution when determining how much money to spend.

When it may not pay off:

If you increase the value of your home while you continue to live in it, realize that you may be increasing your tax basis as well. A new assessment of your home may increase your taxes and cause it to be more expensive to live there. Simple improvements such as adding a garden shed can trigger a reassessment in some localities, while moving a wall or putting in an additional bath or bedroom most certainly will.

Before you take on an improvement, addition or upgrade for the purpose of increasing your home’s marketability, call me. I can discuss with you the potential ramifications of the changes you want to make, the return on your investment and whether or not it could trigger a tax assessment and property valuation increase.


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