You are viewing our site as an Agent, Switch Your View:

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default     Back to List

Research-backed Remodeling Ideas that Net a Higher Sales Price

August 03 2023

construction house toolsHome remodels and upgrades have long been a way to increase the perceived value of a home. But belts are tightening in the current economy, and homeowners are turning away from big remodeling projects. In fact, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University predicts that spending on home improvement projects will fall by 2.7% and 5.9% in the first and second quarters, respectively, of 2024.

But just because homeowners are spending less doesn't mean they're willing to spend nothing at all — especially when an improvement can result in a higher sales price. The trick is to determine which projects will net a positive return on investment and/or can be accomplished on the cheap.

That's why we've rounded up a handful of remodeling ideas that, according to research, either offer a positive ROI, can be accomplished on a budget, or both. You can use these ideas to advise sellers, or to connect with your sphere of influence by sharing them on social media, blogs, newsletters, or via your preferred outreach channel.

Budget Projects: The Power of Paint Colors

Let's start off with some good news: one of the easiest ways to boost the value of a listing is by simply changing up the paint colors, according to a 2023 Zillow study. That's low-hanging fruit that nearly every homeowner can reach, no matter their budget.

According to the study, homes with these colors sell for more than similar listings:

  • Deep graphite gray kitchen: +$2,512
  • Midtone pewter gray kitchen: +$2,553
  • Dark gray in living room and bedrooms vs. pale neutrals: +$1,755
  • Terra-cotta brown bathrooms: +$1,624

There's bad news for homes with white kitchens, however: they sell for $612 less than similar homes. Fortunately, if your seller has a white kitchen, all it takes is a quick coat of paint in a more desirable color to fix the drop in perceived value.

Interior room colors aren't the only thing that impacts buyer perceptions. Zillow says that a midtone gray, or a "cement gray," front door decreases a home's sales price by $3,365. Meanwhile, a door that's a midtone rosy brown can bring in an extra $300.

An earlier Zillow study from 2022 has more to say on the impact of door colors. Slate-blue doors bring in an extra $1,537, and black doors a whopping $6,449 (though they can be controversial). Pale pink doors, however, should be avoided — they decrease purchase prices by $6,516 (sorry, Barbie).

Bigger Projects: A Look at ROI

Sometimes a listing needs a little bit more than a paint job. But before your client breaks out the sledgehammer, use a little bit of data to advise them on which projects are most worth their while.

According to NAR's 2022 Remodeling Impact Report, only two remodeling projects net a positive return on investment: hardwood floor refinishing and installing new wood floors. Owners break even on insulation upgrades, so they need not fear losing money if this is a needed project for their home.

remodeling 2023 indoor projects recoup

A more recent study, NAR's 2023 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features, looked at the ROI of outdoor projects. The report hints that it's all about curb appeal and regular maintenance — standard lawn care service recouped owners 217% of its cost, while landscape maintenance offered a 104% ROI. Homeowners broke even on landscape upgrades and installing an outdoor kitchen.

remodeling 2023 outdoor projects recoup

The research above reflects broader national trends, and the ROI may vary in different regions of the country. For example, an outdoor kitchen is likely a poor investment in the snowy Northeast, but may be a stronger one in places with year-round warmth like California, Florida, and the Southwest. Lean on your personal judgment and experience when advising clients.

You can also rely on experts, such as pre-sale renovation firms like Revive, which offer professional renovations aimed at increasing a home's market value.