Modern and sleek kitchen.

A well-appointed kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so it’s worth spicing up yours to grab buyer attention.


Do you know which spaces add the most value when it’s time to sell?

It’s a double-edged sword: on the one side, if you’re selling your home, it’s hard to justify spending money on upgrades; on the other, if you don’t spruce up your spot, your home might lag on the market.

Either way, you’ll want to maximize your time and any money you’ve allocated to for-sale upgrades. Trulia suggests zeroing in on buyer hot spots, the “make it or break it” focal points of a home. If you’re a seller with a tight timeline (and budget), you’ll want to focus on these rooms first.

Know the two hot spots

The rooms buyers most closely inspect (and judge) in a house are the kitchen and master bath. These are the interior spaces where the most value can be added during a sale, so they need to look their best.

A well-appointed kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so it’s worth spicing up yours to grab buyer attention. The same holds true for the bathrooms, especially the master bath. A sparkling master bath with clean lines will charm open-house-goers with modern upgrades like dual vanities and soaking tubs.

In the rest of the home, you can rely on touching up paint, clearing clutter, and artful staging.

Do your homework

Before planning any upgrades to your kitchen and master bath, consider your neighborhood — and more importantly, your target buyer.

If surrounding homes have tidy, simple kitchens with Formica or tile countertops, then your home should as well. If granite and flagstone are the local flavor, upgrade your counters similarly. Just because you loved your rooster-themed wallpaper border doesn’t mean buyers will too. Try to appeal to the masses when planning your updates.

Don’t overdo it

Determining the craftsmanship of the kitchens and baths in comparable for-sale homes is critical. It will help you identify where to allocate resources and identify unnecessary amenities.

A kitchen upgrade can range from a weekend-long, low-budget brush-up (think paint job and new cabinet hardware) to a full-blown overhaul (with tens of thousands spent on granite countertops and luxury appliances).

Either way, the goal is to make your home look as fantastic as possible without wasting money, overinvesting, and ultimately creating a space that’s out of place among the rest of the properties in your neighborhood.

Make the most of what you’ve got

If your kitchen is looking very worn and dated, you may be able to salvage some of its basic structure. Keep the main elements and simply improve the rest with a cost-effective, low-labor strategy.

Resurface, refinish, or simply scrub down cabinet doors, replace cabinet hardware, install a new faucet, upgrade the appliances, install new lighting fixtures, and slap on a fresh coat of paint.

Also, the least expensive but most important tip? Clear the countertops of clutter. Get rid of that bulky toaster oven and coffee maker. You’ll be surprised at how much larger your kitchen will appear when the counters are uncluttered.

Consider master bath mystique

From a buyer’s perspective, the master bath is almost as important as the kitchen. It’s also the most challenging room in the house to upgrade, requiring the skills of many different tradespeople — with hefty bills for each.

However, several tricks can help you affordably create an inviting look that tugs at buyers’ heartstrings and purse strings.

With time and money at a premium, the key to a bathroom upgrade is making the most of the existing shell. Save as much of the existing bath as you can. A quick update of faucets and lighting can work wonders. Brighten up the space with new mirrors, towel racks, and storage for an entirely refreshed look.

Deep-clean the tile and grout, and organize the medicine cabinets — because buyers will open them. Even if you can’t afford a new low-flow toilet (although if you can, the upgrade is well worth it), make sure your bathroom is sparkling clean. No buyer wants to imagine soaking in a dingy tub.

What are your tips for updating the master bath and kitchen? Share your for-sale tactics in the comments.