Upgrades pay off when selling a home

By Joni Ribera, Let's Talk Real Estate

Homeowners are continually exposed to the latest in remodeling and renovation trends.

It seems there isn’t any place in the house that’s off-limits to improvement, expansion or updating. Homeowners planning to remain in their home for many years to come should consider projects that genuinely suit their own needs — the custom kitchen, a fabulous master suite, a new home office. But if the plan is to sell the home in the not-too-distant future, homeowners should focus on projects that will have the best chance of getting the highest return on their investment.

Even within a particular room, project costs can vary widely depending on the extent of the improvements.

A major kitchen remodel (custom cabinetry, expensive surfaces, high-end appliances and engaging a designer) may cost upward of $100,000 and, on average, get a return on investment of about 78 percent. A minor kitchen “facelift,” on the other hand, averages a similar ROI (return on investment) in percentage terms, but will cost far less. This is a more modest project that may entail cabinet refinishing, replacement of countertops and flooring, and perhaps swapping out dated appliances for new but inexpensive models that improve the room’s appearance.

Remodeled bathrooms consistently rank at or near the top in term of return on investment. Whether it’s a powder room or a master bath, beautiful updated surfaces, water-saving fixtures and neutral tones are the minimal improvements that should be considered. Taking another step up, enlarging the room itself and adding luxurious “spa” elements such as a deep soaking tub, heated floors and a double shower will obviously increase the budget and, likely, the appeal of a master bath. Average ROI is over 78 percent.

Replacing windows may not rank high on the glamour scale, but buyers appreciate the appearance and improved energy efficiency of new windows and are willing to pay for them. Insulated windows are a smart improvement for homes in any climate, and will make the house look better both inside and out. Average ROI is over 73 percent.

Homeowners should be careful to keep upgrades and improvements within the range of similar homes in their neighborhood. The most expensive home in the area, however attractive, is rarely the easiest to sell.

Federal Way real estate agent Joni Ribera: (253) 632-5779 or Also visit

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