The No. 1 Thing You Can Do to Boost Your Home’s ROI (& 4 Other Low-Effort Projects to Consider)

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If you’re thinking of selling your home, (1) there’s no better time and (2) there are tons of upgrades you can make to get the highest offer possible. But which ones are truly worth the time, money and headaches involved? That’s where things get fuzzy.

Typically, you’ll hear that a pool isn’t a great investment, but that can depend on where you live. “In the Midwest, you can’t use a pool for the majority of the year, so you get a much smaller return than in, say, Southern California,” explains Liz Young, CEO and co-founder of Realm, a service that analyzes a home’s features, finding ways to maximize its value. “In that area, a fire pit may make more sense.”

That said, there are a few projects that seem to result in a high ROI nationwide. Here are the top five to consider before putting up that “for sale” sign.

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Ivan Hunter/Getty Images

1. replace Your Garage Door

It’s no surprise that the fastest way to sell your home is to make a strong first impression, which is why every realtor makes a big deal about curb appeal. In its 2021 Cost Vs. Value Report, Remodeling Magazine found that you’ll recoup about 94 percent of the cost of installing a new garage door. Not only can it be more aesthetically pleasing—particularly models with top window panels—but many come with a lifetime warranty. Opt for one with high-tensile-strength steel, the mag recommends.

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2. upgrade Your Front Door

Dutch doors—where the door is divided into two halves, so you can open the top while leaving the bottom shut (like this one from Rustica)—are particularly popular right now. But, if that style isn’t right for you, there are two main guidelines to keep in mind: Stick to clean lines and consider adding privacy glass to let natural light in. (Oh, and apparently, painting said door charcoal or black could help your home sell for $6,271 more than expected.)

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Josh Hemsley/Unsplash

3. swap Out Your Kitchen Cabinet Fronts

A “minor kitchen remodel” clocks in as Remodeling Magazine’s third-highest ROI-boosting project, but what exactly does that mean? The magazine defines it as a $26K project on average, and if you’re not ready to part with that kind of money, start simpler and focus on your cabinet doors. Maximalism may be the rage when it comes to décor, but for resale value, think minimalist: Like the front door, the less ornate, the better. Shaker styles still reign supreme, and Zillow recently found that a crisp, classic white kitchen remains the best investment. (Neutrals and dark green are also safe bets. Just whatever you do, avoid bright red, which can result in lower offers.)

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Josbra Design/Unsplash

4. choose Stainless Steel Appliances

Beyond sleeker cabinet doors in neutral tones, there’s one other improvement that can make a huge difference in homebuyers’ eyes: new appliances. They don’t have to be top of the line; a sleek, entry-level stainless steel range, fridge and dishwasher will do just fine. “It’s an easy way to present a home as more luxury,” Young says. Plus, it gives potential buyers the peace of mind that they’re under warranty, so they’re less likely to act up a few months after moving in. That reassurance can go a long way.

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Sanibell BV/Unsplash

5. repaint Your Bathroom

While buyers prefer neutral kitchens, it seems they’re more open to color in the bathroom, especially if it’s a light, soothing shade of blue. Zillow’s July 2021 paint survey found participants would be willing to pay 1.6 percent more for a house with a pale blue bathroom. Considering a fresh coat of paint will likely set you back less than $300—particularly in a space that small—it might be worth heading to your local hardware store and searching for swatches ASAP.

candace davison bio

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...