The True Cost of Renovating

Inevitably, there will be some unfinished projects or updates that need finished before you put your home on the market. But, be thoughtful about whether they’re truly necessary and will provide a high enough return-on-investment (ROI) of both time and money.


Before you do anything, check out the price of homes recently sold in your area and how they appear in order to avoid overdoing renovations. And never do more in renovations than your home is worth in the first place. If you own a $100,000 in a not-so-great area, there’s probably a cap on the most people will offer you for it, so it doesn’t make sense to spend $150,000 for renovations, additions, or upgrades.


Especially if you’re looking to sell your home without an agent, you’ll want to consider smart renovations to attract more buyers. The more buyers you have, the more (and better!) offers you’ll get.


Painting the walls of your home is one of the least expensive home projects you can embark on, and doing so can really increase the sale price of your home. The key is to stick to neutral colors and do it yourself if you can. By hiring a professional painter, you’ll increase your costs from an average of $380 to the $1,500 to $2,000 range, according to Clever’s recent True Cost of Homeownership study. By paying that much more, you’ll significantly reduce your ROI.


Rely on your real estate agent’s expertise in where you should paint all four walls and where you can get by with patching and touching up. They can also provide insight into the best colors for your area and market. When in doubt, neutral colors ensure your walls won’t turn off would-be buyers. Try to appeal to the masses. 

Minor kitchen remodel

Most homeowners spend a good amount of time in the kitchen area of their home. If you can avoid going overboard, this makes the kitchen a good area of focus for your home renovations. But beware, the average kitchen remodel costs homeowners more than $22,000, even though most expected to spend in the range of $5,000.


Focus on the simple things that pack a big impact or are an immediate turnoff to potential buyers. This might include swapping out old cabinet hardware for a more modern look, replacing countertops, or pulling up that ‘80s linoleum and putting in new flooring. As mentioned above, a new coat of paint (and removing any wallpaper at the same time) can also do wonders. If your faucet is particularly funky, you can replace it with new for around $100 if you’re handy.


Granite countertops can run over $5000 depending on the square footage, and the ROI is questionable. 

Brighten the bathroom

If your bathroom isn’t neutral or is a dark color, painting it a brighter shade should be top on your list. As with the kitchen, bathrooms are some of most frequently used rooms in a home so spend some time and money making it stand out. You don’t have to start ripping out cabinets or replacing tile — simple updates can pack a big punch.

Replace old cabinet hardware, consider painting or staining cabinets if they are especially worn or outdated, and add a new faucet or light fixture. Focus on brightening up the space. Since bathrooms tend to be small areas, it’s important that the lighting, paint colors, and overall color scheme stay light and bright to make the space seem larger.


With the smart, quick upgrades you can keep costs lower than $1000. 

Outside updates

While replacing the vinyl siding on the entryway with stone veneer could cost you to the tune of $8,000, it’s a huge upgrade in terms of curb appeal. Carefully choose where this cosmetic improvement will catch the eye of potential buyers the most and be conservative.

Other exterior upgrades and are sure to increase foot traffic at your open houses include simple landscaping and possibly a new exterior door. Adding bushes and flowers brings life and color to your front and backyard. 


Small upgrades like this can have a huge ROI because of their low cost and high impact! 


Author Bio: Ben Mizes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, a free online service that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate agents. Ben is also an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed real estate agent in the State of Missouri.

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