Home shopping season is quickly approaching, which means home sellers are busy cleaning, painting, decluttering, landscaping and deciding which other projects might reap the greatest reward given limited time and money. Their best bet – once the curb appeal projects are done, tackle the bathrooms.
The typical seller has 13 years' worth of wear and tear on their home, and that can make it tough to know where to start. But most of them do, with sellers averaging 2.2 renovations or improvements to prepare to sell their home, with 79 percent making at least one, according to Zillow data. And there's good reason to do that, with nearly a quarter of sellers who make improvements sell above list price, compared with 16 percent of sellers who don't.
The key is making smart decisions about what to upgrade, because home-improvement projects don't necessarily pay for themselves -- and some improvements actually cost more than they return in value. To help homeowners who are preparing to/thinking about selling their home, Zillow analyzed the return on a variety of projects and put together some tips to maximize return and minimize headaches.
A good rule of thumb: A smaller, inexpensive upgrade typically brings a bigger reward than a more involved and time-consuming one.
Here are a few items on Zillow's "Do" list for sellers looking to pocket the biggest payoff:
And some important "Don'ts":
"If you're fixing up your home to appeal to a variety of potential buyers, go for changes that have a broad appeal," said Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research. "Fresh paint in the new 'it' neutral signals a well-maintained home, and most people can imagine their own furniture matching the walls. A luxury chef's kitchen won't matter to the majority of folks who can't call themselves a good cook and just eat out often anyway. Sometimes the basement is best for storage. Start small and seek expert advice."