The Top 2 Home Improvement Projects Buyers Want, And How to Do It On a Budget

Sellers that are on a budget, or are crunched for time, may not be able to make a lot of updates to their home prior to listing. We look at the top two home improvement projects buyers want by ROI, and how to implement them on a budget.

It’s no secret that updates to a home increase its value on the real estate market. However, choosing the right home improvement projects can be a challenge if you are short on time and/or money. Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors reports that smaller updates that improve the overall look of the home can be more effective than large scale renovations.

We’ve rounded up the top two projects buyers want — and how to implement them on a budget.

1. The Kitchen

While it may be true that kitchens sell homes, you don’t need to spend a fortune on creating a space that buyers are eager to call their own. In fact, Remodeling Magazine, in their 2015 Cost vs. Value report indicates that a minor kitchen remodel has a nearly 12 percent higher payback than a major renovation, providing an average 79.3 percent return on investment.


At the lower end of the scale, simply repainting the walls and replacing cabinet hardware can be an effective face lift if you are crunched for time. However, if you have solid wood cabinets, painting them can also go a long way to modernizing your kitchen space. Choose a neutral color such as white or off-white to brighten up even the most dated of kitchens and create welcoming space. New hinges and hardware can set off the update and make a real impact.

For damaged or laminated kitchens, sometimes replacing the doors can take your kitchen to a whole new level. Many big box stores carry an array of stock cabinet doors that can give your kitchen new life for a fraction of the cost of complete replacement.

Countertops and Backsplash

Countertops see a lot of action and can be one of the most worn out aspects of a kitchen. Replacing counter tops with a comparable looking laminate can significantly improve the desirability of your home and provide a fresh, clean look. Existing natural stone countertops that have lost their luster can also be rebuffed and re-coated by a professional to revive their natural beauty.

If your kitchen lacks a backsplash, this can be one of the easiest do-it-yourself home improvement projects to add value. Tile, bead board paneling, even tin tiles can be added for maximum impact.

Improve Functionality

Every buyer wants a kitchen that works. Easy fixes can include adding interior organizers to drawers, installing a lazy Susan or pull out shelves to pantry cupboards. Even replacing a single bowl sink with a double bowl, if space allows, and topping off with a fresh, new faucet will make a positive impact.

2. Entryway

While it may be surprising, replacing your front door with a new steel door tops nearly every list of home improvement projects, and for good reason. The ROI on this simple upgrade can soar as high as 101 percent, making it a no-brainer.

A new entry door increases curb appeal and makes your home shine in real estate photos. Aside from the increased security and energy savings a steel door offers, buyers will receive a positive first impression that will set the tone for how they view the remainder of your home.

The Bottom Line

A tight timeline or budget shouldn’t get in the way of ensuring you get the most from the sale of your home, and choosing strategic home improvement projects will ensure your effort is rewarded. Just remember that upgrades don’t need to be premium quality for the best return — they just need to make sense for your home.

Image Source: Flickr/Emily May


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  1. Howie Steck
    December 1, 2015

    I genuinely agree. As a residential and commercial remodeling expert responsible for very large renovations or working with designers on spas, sometimes the slightest improvements can make a worn out house look like a new home. You don’t have to break the bank but sometime just simply paint the interior, dressing up the exterior of a front entry or a bath remodel, option are almost endless. Good luck

  2. f.leemorey
    December 6, 2015

    Well said Mr. Steck. Simple upgrades can go a long way.

    Our challenge is knowing when to stop. You can easily get caught up in “now that you changed the counter look how bad the floor tile looks”

    All good advice.

  3. Accurate Mortgage
    January 3, 2016

    I agree with this! Thanks for sharing this useful advice.

  4. Verda
    May 6, 2016

    It is nice post..

  5. houses for sale
    May 16, 2016

    No matter if some one searches for his necessary thing,
    therefore he/she wishes to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

  6. Jason House
    December 20, 2016

    For me, the most important aspect of a home improvement project is the durability of the materials used. In my opinion, any tradesman who uses cheap quality building and renovation material is doing a disservice to the client.

    • Victoria Keichinger
      December 21, 2016

      Great point, Jason.

  7. Jason Veneri
    January 18, 2017

    I very much appreciate the insight. It’s going to be helpful to me and many others. Do you have any other sources so that I can dig a little deeper?

  8. Hena Mary
    February 10, 2017

    This was an awesome and helpful article. Thank you very much for sharing and contributing.

  9. Hena Mary
    February 22, 2017

    It ‘s really great to know.Thank you for sharing.


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