Renovating for Resale: Where to Focus Your Attention

Do kitchen and bathroom renovations actually help to sell homes?

When considering what renovations to do in your home, it can feel like you’re a slave to resale value projections, rather than your own desires for customizing your home, not to mention the ever-present third category: necessities such as new roofing. Luckily, the correlation between exciting renovation projects and solid return on investment can be stronger than you think! According to HGTV, a good rule of thumb is to plan to recoup about 75 to 80 percent of your cost upon resale, meaning the renovations cost an average of 20 to 25 cents on the dollar.

It’s long been said that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, and there’s definitely some truth to this real estate cliché. Kitchen remodels are a great example of a marriage between resale value and improved livability of your home, although it’s important to keep the scale of the remodel in mind when considering this project. According to the Remodeling Cost vs. Value report, minor kitchen remodels have yielded a greater ROI over the past four years than major ones.


Minor: 83.1%

Major: 64.9%


Minor: 79.3%

Major: 67.8%


Minor: 82.7%

Major: 74.2%


Minor: 75.4%

Major: 68.9%

Minor kitchen remodels can best be described as updating what is already there, such as putting in new countertops or updating cabinets and appliances, rather than gutting the kitchen completely and starting fresh. Here are some tips for what to consider when embarking on a minor kitchen remodel:

Bathrooms are another great target for remodeling, as those projects are cheaper on average than kitchens. Before beginning a bathroom remodel, it’s important to consider all of the bathrooms in your home, rather than each one on an individual level. You could also consult with a realtor to find out what other houses on par with yours have to offer. This could make the difference between turning a half bath into a full bath, or simply updating the décor of the bathroom.

There are rules of thumb when it comes to renovations and resale value, but one of the most common ones is that these rules largely depend on your home and the real estate market it’s located in. Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding where to put your cash:

-The length of time between renovation and resale.

-Selling features of other homes in the neighborhood, such as number of bathrooms.

-The size and price of your home; if on the smaller side, a lavish kitchen remodel, while appreciated, might not make sense to buyers.

For more tips on renovating for resale value, check out Morgan Kraljevich’s article on on

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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  1. Error
    April 18, 2016

    Think about your “wants” for your bathroom renovation. Also realize, since you need to get a nice return on investment on this project come home-sale time, you must set priorities based on what sells a bathroom. Keep in mind the cost of every component of the project plan. For instance, can you get away with refreshing the look of cabinets by replacing hardware rather than tearing out the whole structure? Do you need a brand new vanity sink, or can you update the faucet and give the space a more contemporary feel?

  2. David Carr
    April 18, 2016

    I believe in the white box renovation method, since we do not know what the buyer wants. I like to have buyers strip the rooms down, then provide catalogs of the replacement cabinetry, fixtures, etc the buyer can select and seller install prior to closing. Seeing Real Estate from another angle since 1996. David Carr, PSCS, The Foundation of Your Success(c).

  3. Johnny B - John Bretthauer
    June 2, 2016

    Just how bad is the current condition? The AS IS price vs updated ROI depends on how unattractive the current condition is relative to the value.

    It is hard to see your own home with fresh eyes. It is better to bring in a skilled Realtor to help you allocate precious resources.

    Focus on fresh paint, flooring, kitchen, master bath, curb appeal and staging to prepare your home for highest price. Calibrate your investment based on current home condition, value of your home and price point of the neighborhood.


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