Trulia Denver, Home Buyer in Denver, CO

Considering return on investment, where should money be spent on remodeling?

Asked by Trulia Denver, Denver, CO Thu Apr 4, 2013

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Pete Cook, Agent, Denver, CO
Thu Apr 4, 2013
My advice is always work on the weakest links in your house. Buyers are willing to pay your asking price and sometimes above if they do not need to update or fix anything. If you have just one dated bathroom, then work on that.
1 vote
Larry Brake, Agent, Aurora, CO
Thu Mar 27, 2014
This one gets a bit tricky. There are several considerations that could impact the answer to this question. Assuming the property is generally in good mechanical condition, you can make some simple updates that can add a lot of visual appeal. For example:

1. Lighting updates - High impact and generally something that you can do yourself, and can do so on a budget.

2. Kitchen cabinet hardware - High impact and a great way to spruce up a kitchen on a budget. By replacing your old cabinet hardware (assuming the cabinets are otherwise in good condition) with new updated hardware, you can extend the life of older cabinets.

3. Paint & Carpet - High impact, and it appeals to Buyers visually and psychologically. The smell of new paint and carpet, coupled with simple updates like the ones in 1 and 2 above, give Buyers the impression there is a sense of 'newness' to the home.

4. If it's in the budget, granite (or other solid surface) counters in the kitchen. You will not get your money out of it on a dollar for dollar basis, but it will go a long way towards making your home more desirable to a broader range of Buyers, while also helping to get top dollar for your home.

5. Landscaping - Even if limited to the front yard entrance area. This is something you can do yourself, and helps a lot with curb appeal and first impressions.

Other things to consider: Get rid of any fluorescent tube lighting, in particular if it is in the kitchen. Replace them with can lights. Get rid of any 'make-up light bars' in the bathrooms. There are plenty of affordable alternatives that don't look like clown make-up lights. Get rid of the faux brass plumbing fixtures. Nothing screams 'the 80s' like faux brass. And if you do nothing else, replace old or cracked caulking and/or tile grout around plumbing fixtures and counter tops.

Hope that helps!

Larry Brake
HomeSmart Realty
0 votes
Eric Sultan, Agent, Denver, CO
Tue Mar 18, 2014
There is a lot of great advice in here, but the main takeaway is that it depends on your specific house, which is to say, your specific buyer. Think about who you were when you bought the home you are living in, and the person who buys from you will probably have a lot in common with who you were back then.

There are two things that I think need addressing from the previous answers; if you can add a bathroom to any one bathroom home, you are likely to get a huge return on your investment, and if you can add square footage to your house, it will generally create a "value buffer" for you. For example, if you add 200sf to your home, you should get a little less than whatever the going rate for 200sf in your area is...unless you are taking away from some other important item, adding square footage will almost always increase your value.

Please feel free to call me at 303-829-0814 if you would like to discuss your specific situation.
0 votes
Ron Rovtar, Agent, Boulder, CO
Wed Feb 19, 2014
Hi Trulia:

I just noticed that Remodeling Magazine has published the latest cost to value numbers for home improvement projects. The link below takes you to the Metro Denver page. You will see that it is a rare project that pays for itself, but this does not mean that an owner who has a good eye and understands how to use tools properly cannot squeeze some profits out of a project. The main thing for handy homeowners is to pay extremely close attention to safety issues. I would also caution homeowners to only start projects they know they can complete properly. Badly done projects hurt more than they help.

Ron Rovtar
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services,
Real Estate of the Rockies
0 votes
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Sat Feb 15, 2014
I say kitchen, bath and flooring are key items!!

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes
tdubaniewicz, Both Buyer And Seller, 80010
Sat Feb 15, 2014…

Your link was truncated. Thanks for finding it, though.
0 votes
DeLUX Team R…, Agent, Littleton, CO
Thu Feb 13, 2014
I Googled your question and found a great article on MSN, go to the following URL:

Read the aforementioned article it is detailed and may help.
0 votes
Josh Perkins, Agent, Castle Rock, CO
Wed Feb 12, 2014
Some things that typically yield the most bang for your buck are:

-Fresh Paint
-New Flooring
-New appliances
-Also, if you are selling a home, staging the home can yield great results. The cost of staging can be in the $1,000 range for a vacant home, but it can really make your home a lot more livable and inviting to a potential buyer.
-If your home is occupied and you are trying to sell it, it's always good to remove as much clutter as possible, and try to make the home inviting to your buyers

Good luck!
Josh Perkins
Your Castle Real Estate
0 votes
Ron Rovtar, Agent, Boulder, CO
Mon Feb 10, 2014
BoulderSuZ offers good advice in two answers below, as do others. I think the biggest takeaway here is that you should be very careful when updating a house to sell rather than for your own comfort and enjoyment. But there are places to spend a few dollars. Those would be maintenance projects you put off, clean-up projects that went undone because they did not bother you and paint-up projects you could never find a weekend to do. In some cases the list might also include replacing some carpet in high traffic areas (it need not be expensive carpet) and, perhaps refinishing some wood floors where the finish is pretty worn. Buyers today do not always require the latest appliances or cabinets or fixtures. But, generally speaking, they want to move into a house that is livable without a lot of work. Best, Ron Rovtar Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Real Estate of the Rockies, Boulder.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Sat Feb 8, 2014
It is my opinion that this would depend largely on the subject property. However, it's very difficult to put a number on something like this. Not too long ago someone did a report on this topic that considered different regions of the country and the rate of return on a variety of home improvements including, kitchens, baths, windows, flooring, etc. Believe it or not, the replacement item identified with the greatest rate of return was replacing the "front door!" Tough one to figure! Bill
0 votes
Suz A, Agent, Longmont, CO
Fri Feb 7, 2014
Hardwood floors add lasting beauty and are not that expensive. If you're determined to a remodel, do it early so you get enjoyment out of your investment for a few years before selling.
0 votes
Peter Psotny, Agent, Denver, CO
Thu Feb 6, 2014
My advice is always kitchen and baths are # 1. The biggest seller of a home is a new kitchen. If you are on a limited budget I would start in the kitchen and then move to the master bath. The least return on your investment is finishing a below grade basement. immediately after would be flooring updates and fresh paint. Buyers will be more interested in a new kitchen and fresh paint rather than features like new windows or a finished basement. Feel free to call me with any questions. 720-220-2059.
0 votes
Jocelyn Cock…, Agent, Denver, CO
Thu Feb 6, 2014
Great question! Most homeowners spend a lot of money on home improvement, only to realize that they are not increasing their home value. Examples of these are converting a spare bedroom into an office or turning a garage into a family room. So here are my suggestions. The top four projects that can effectively increase the resale value of your property are kitchen and bathroom upgrades, new interior paint, landscape restoration, and getting new replacements on your exterior siding. However, you have to make sure that you don't overdo it to the point that your home won't fit into the neighborhood anymore. Feel free to call me at (303) 656-9561 for more details.
0 votes
DeLUX Team R…, Agent, Littleton, CO
Sat Feb 1, 2014
You normally get the highest return on your investment by remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms.
0 votes
Tyson Morozs, , Denver, CO
Sat Feb 1, 2014
I would say kitchen and bath and curb appeal but check these stats stating front door, generator, and deck!? You may lose some money on all paths unless your in Hawaii.

Ty Morozs
Certified Home Inspector
Level Home Inspections
0 votes
Ethan Besser, Agent, Englewood, CO
Tue Apr 30, 2013
Kitchen and bathrooms are the updates that will get you the most bang for your buck.
0 votes
Suz A, Agent, Longmont, CO
Fri Apr 5, 2013
Everyone seems to have nailed it.

You generally get a better return on remodeling kitchens and baths. But, I wouldn't remodel just to sell a house. That's crazy, especially in this market where people look past things like out-dated kitchens and baths.

Today's buyer wants a clean house that doesn't have a lot of fixes. (My, how a few years can make a difference.)

A more relevant question in this market might be: How realistic do sellers have to be?

There is an inventory shortage. We know this. However (dramatic pause), I recommend sellers price realistically - especially because sales of higher priced homes are not flying out of the MLS (at least for the moment). For homes $200,000 and below, Realtors don't even have time to get a sign in the yard. The million and above are doing well. In between? Not as sweet as those sweet spots.

If you want to sell a home at $300,000, adding to the price (by including granite counters and painted cabinets) might be precisely the wrong strategy. In fact, pricing closer to $250,000 is a good strategy. With so many agents and buyers out there looking, what happens? Maybe a feeding frenzy (which is a good thing for the seller)?

I've worked the sellers who were just so determined to get "their price." We price what they hope to get. Then the house sits ... and sits. If everyone in the neighborhood has nice floors, updated kitchens and nice paint, you should be asking why is someone going to pay more to the one person who is out of step? If the price is too high, the traffic thins out. Then nothing happens until ...

Invite your Realtor to tour your home. Have the Realtor do a market analysis. A good Realtor will show you what is realistic and has the time to discuss marketing strategy.

0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Trulia, money should not be spent on remodeling.

Yes, I said it!

Look. You've got a 2004 car, you don't put a 2013 door on it. Unless you're going to remodel the entire home, just clean it, paint it, fix anything that's broken, and call it good.
0 votes
DeLUX Team R…, Agent, Littleton, CO
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Kitchens and baths normally bring the highest return on your money but that is not an absolute exercise due diligence when making any investment.
0 votes
Edith Karoli…, Agent, Winnetka, IL
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Bathrooms, kitchen, curb appeal, hardwood flooring instead of carpeting....
But all actually really depends on the property itself, its size, price range and the surrounding homes on the market or on sale.....
A good local experienced Realtor will be of great help...
Sincerely yours,
Edith YourRealtor4Life & Chicago and Northern Illinois Expert

Working always in the very BEST interest of her clients, Buyers, Sellers and Investors alike....
And always with a SMILE 
Covering for @Properties the city of Chicago, all N and NW suburbs, the fine homes on the
North Shore, and many of the W and SW suburbs, and with her trusted Partner Agents all of
the US and worldwide properties. Edith speaks French, German, some Spanish and other.....
@Properties ----
Check out my website at htttp://
0 votes
Bill Pearson, Agent, Denver, CO
Thu Apr 4, 2013
The best return on your investment is with a Bathroom or Kitchen. That being said if you don't have a garage and one can be installed that is a great investment as well. Best of luck with your remodel and if I can be of any help feel free to reach out to me!

Bill Pearson GRI, SRES |"Your Denver Realtor For Life"
ERA Herman Group Real Estate| 201 Columbine Street| Suite 301| Denver CO 80206
720-329-1470 |
5280 Magazine FIVE STAR Real Estate Professional – 2010, 2011, 2012
0 votes
Look up - TRULIA asked this question..........NOT a consumer.......I doubt trulia will reach out to you or anyone!
Flag Thu Apr 4, 2013
Kasha Songer, Agent, Denver, CO
Thu Apr 4, 2013
It depends how soon you plan to sell, but kitchens and baths is the safe bet.
0 votes
Tim Klein, Agent, Littleton, CO
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Kitchens and baths....but you know that.
0 votes
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