Top Remodels and Renovations That Actually Pay Off

Written by Ben Mizes Posted On Wednesday, 03 April 2024 00:00

In 2017, Americans spent over $6,600 per homeowner on home improvement projects. Perhaps it’s because of the popularity of HGTV shows, but this has been on the rise.

People are fascinated with having nice homes. What about when it’s time to sell? Is it worth remodeling or renovating your home before putting it on the market? 

Let’s take a look at remodels and renovations that actually pay off when it’s time to sell your home. 

Remodels vs Renovations

First, you should understand the difference between remodeling and renovating. 

Renovation is required when something is in disrepair. Replacing rusty pipes or a leaky toilet in the bathroom is a renovation. 

When you remodel, things may still be in great shape, but you want them to look different. That toilet is working just fine but you decide to swap it out for a more modern style.

Pros of Remodeling

Your home may be in great shape, but that orange shag carpet in the rec room will narrow your pool of interested buyers. Outdated or bold accent colors or styles in a home can turn people away. 

In a slow market, it can be even more challenging. Removing these elements and replacing them with something more neutral can improve your chances of a faster sale — and for a higher price. 

Cons of Remodeling

Unfortunately, there are few remodeling projects for which you’ll recoup your entire investment. If your goal is to raise your asking price, remodeling is not the way to do it. You could end up spending more money than it raises the value.

Plus, remodeling is a huge inconvenience. Your home could be torn apart for weeks and you’ll have workmen tromping through your house all day. 

If you’re going the DIY route, be prepared to spend more weekends on the project than you think. Remodels are always more expensive and take longer than you think they will. 

Pros of Renovation

Many buyers don’t want to deal with repairs. By renovating the home beforehand, you’ll have a larger pool of buyers to work with. This can facilitate a faster sale.

A newly renovated home can also fetch a higher price. Necessary repairs can substantially lower the price buyers are willing to pay for your home. Plus, homes that sit on the market for longer tend to sell for less. 

Cons of Renovation

There is a better ROI for renovations than for remodels. However, depending on what is necessary it can still get expensive. 

Remember that selling a home can be expensive. If you don’t have the cash on hand for renovations, it may be better to take a lower sale price and skip the expense of renovating.

As with remodeling, renovations require workmen tromping through your house for days on end or hours of your free time spent on DIY projects.

Most Valuable Remodels & Renovations

There are times when the effort put into updating your home pays off. So how do you choose projects that are worth it? 

Look for projects that are inexpensive (relatively speaking) but have a big impact on appearance. That’s where you will see the biggest increase in your home's value. Let’s look at a few examples.  

Curb Appeal

Within 30 seconds of seeing your property, buyers start forming their opinion of the home. Simple things like raking up leaves or cleaning Fido’s treasure off the lawn can have a big impact. Try adding window boxes full of flowers to liven up the space.

If the siding or roofing is in disrepair, consider renovating the exterior. While these are big projects, they can have a significant impact on your ability to sell. 

Unresolved problems like these can scare buyers away. If you do get an offer, they can slow down your home sale as the buyer may ask you to complete the repairs after seeing the inspection report.


Painting projects, whether interior or exterior, are excellent ways to boost your home’s appeal. Paint is inexpensive, especially when you do it yourself. 

For the interior, choose light, neutral colors. This helps the space appear bigger and brighter as well as appeals to a variety of personal preferences. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home. Your beloved bold purple accent wall in the den might look great but if your buyer hates purple with a passion it could cause you to lose the sale.

Be sure to repair any dings in the walls and don’t forget the ceiling.


The kitchen is an important room. Everyone loves to eat and this is where the deliciousness comes from. 

However, an expensive kitchen remodel has a bad ROI. It adds value to the home, but not enough to warrant the cost. Plus, your idea of a designer kitchen may not match your buyer’s idea. 

However, there are a few updates that are worth the trouble. 

Reface dinged-up cabinet doors. This is a much cheaper option than replacing them. 

Update old appliances with modern, energy-efficient models. Buyers love the prospect of saving on their monthly energy bills. However, stick with the low- to mid-range models. Fancy, high-end models likely won’t fetch the same return.


The bathroom is another spot that buyers will pay close attention to. Again, designer updates normally don’t bring a high return. However, a minor bathroom remodel is beneficial. 

Update the tub and replace the fixtures to give the room some extra sparkle. Thoroughly clean up any moldy areas. 

If your tile is still in good shape, consider replacing the grout. This will freshen the appearance of your tile without having to replace it. Most mildew and soap scum build up in the grout anyway.

A Market-Ready Home

When is your home ready for the market? It depends on the state of your home and the current market conditions. Talk to a local real estate expert to get an idea of what the market requires in your area. While most homes can benefit from a few renovations, most large remodels will not be worth the cost. 

These remodels and renovations will actually pay off when you’re ready to list your home, but you should always figure out the cost before you take on any home improvement project.  

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