In about six months, I'm putting the raised ranch home I have owned for 20+ years on the market. I know I must say goodbye to years of accumulated items—I really don't think I need 12 colanders anymore—but I also know there are some repairs and upgrades I need to do to entice a buyer. I am thinking of starting with my kitchen—the most used room in my home—because, well, it needs some TLC.
According to experts, I'm onto something: The kitchen may be the best room in the house to upgrade, in terms of return on investment.
According to the 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, a joint report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), 54 percent of Realtors suggest sellers complete a kitchen upgrade before attempting to sell; and 23 percent said a kitchen project actually has helped close a sale in recent years.
Now, I don't have a ton of cash lying around and I don't want to upgrade the entire kitchen. So what should I do?
The NAR/NARI report estimates that a full kitchen upgrade will cost approximately $35,000, but that 57 percent of that ($20,000) will be recouped when you sell. However, David Pekel, CEO of Pekel Construction & Remodeling in Wauwatosa and NARI's president, says my limited budget (and energy) isn't a limitation. He says there are more than enough small-scale kitchen repairs and replacements that can increase a home's overall value—you just need to know how much you want to spend before you make any decisions.
"You don't shop for a car unless you know the price range you're going to be in," says Pekel, "Otherwise you'll start looking at the most expensive cars and everything in comparison to that will be unacceptable."
Basically, don't overwhelm yourself off the bat. If you're not sure what is too much or too little, Pekel says you can ask a remodel professional to come over for an assessment. They'll identify what projects are doable as well as give you an estimate as to how much each project will cost.
If you do want to do a total revamp, one of the most popular ROI-focused renovations comes influenced by Food Network. As more homeowners are trying to become the next Bobby Flay, there has been an increased demand for chef's kitchens. According to Realtor.com, a chef's kitchen typically includes fancy high-end appliances—like a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, a high BTU gas cook range, and multiple ovens—as well as warming drawers, more than one sink, and sometimes even more than one dishwasher. Zillow reports a chef's kitchen can increase the sale price of your home by 21 percent over its expected value.
Of course, if you're a high-budget dreamer on a dollar menu budget, you'll have to make some adjustments. Pekel suggests taking on at least one of the following projects:
- refinishing and/or painting cabinets
- swapping out hardware
- installing affordable, yet chic flooring
- redoing countertops
- adding lighting
- upgrading the backsplash
- replacing pluming fixtures
You can, of course, do all of the above for around $5,000 in some areas—a pretty extensive, yet inexpensive, kitchen facelift that will pay you dividends.
"If you're interested in selling, that refresh will more than likely pay for itself in resale value," Pekel says. "It's a really affordable way to not leave money on the table when it comes time to sell."
And if you're thinking that all you have in your budget is enough to buy a can of paint, well, that works, too—just make sure you choose the right color for your kitchen. According to Zillow, the wrong color can cost you. In their annual paint color analysis, they found that tuxedo kitchens—having the upper and lower cabinets painted in two different colors—sell for a $1,547 premium. A simple white top and dark navy blue or black cabinet bottom sits on the top of the best color performers list, while painting your roses, err, cabinets red frequently cost homeowners $2,310.