home ownership

Home Improvements that Pay Off

If you’re a homeowner or landlord preparing to sell a property, consider which improvements will give you the best return on your investment. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best renovation and home improvement projects that will add value to your property. Many of these upgrades will yield immediate benefits and enjoyment even if the sale date is years away.

Exterior: Consider Curb Appeal

Think of the exterior of your home as your profile picture. It’s the first thing prospective buyers and tenants see. Does it look attractive, safe, and well-lit? Or is the sidewalk cracked, the front door chipped and the siding in need of repair?

A brightly painted door, shutters, and planters add curb appeal to a brick Philly rowhome.
A brightly painted door, shutters, and planters add curb appeal to a brick Philly rowhome.

Repainting an old front door or replacing it with a new one will result in an instant return on investment. Especially if you also replace the exterior light fixture, repair damaged shingles, or have brickwork cleaned and re-pointed. If you have shutters, make sure they match your new front door, and consider adding window boxes.

When it comes to exterior siding, the material you use is a factor in not just curb appeal but selling price. Surprisingly, manufactured stone veneer in the front of the home yields a higher return on investment than vinyl or fiber-cement siding.

Vinyl Siding

Which Interior Home Improvement Projects Offer The Best Return on Investment?

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the top five projects that add the most value to the sale of your home are refinishing hardwood floors or installing new ones, upgrading insulation, adding a bathroom, renovating closets, and converting a basement to a living area.

Adding Livable Space

When it comes to adding livable square feet, don’t just think about your basement. Consider adding living space on top of your roof. Many Philly row houses are increasing their square footage by building up, not down. Besides increasing your property’s value, you are creating space for a home office, art studio, or enlarged master bedroom.

Refinishing or Replacing Floors

Refinishing hardwood floors or installing new hardwood yields over 100% cost recovery when you sell.  However, luxury vinyl tile and luxury faux-wood vinyl plank flooring are equally popular and offer equally high returns on investment.  Not all vinyl is soft, and some offer extreme scratch-resistant and pet-proofing qualities.  By contrast, carpeting, laminate flooring, and linoleum offer a lower return. 

Upgrading The Kitchen

Instead of totally renovating the kitchen, think about a kitchen remodel at half the cost. Just replace cabinet doors, hardware, and countertops. Adding Energy Star appliances will start saving electricity costs as soon as you plug them in.

Another way to add value to your home and reduce energy bills is to install insulated vinyl windows that retain heat in the winter and keep it out in the summer. Plus, new windows instantly make a property appear desirable. 

Unless your bathroom hasn’t been upgraded in over twenty years, you may be able to do just lower-cost cosmetic improvements such as replacing shower doors and painting. If the fixtures are old and inefficient, however, you’ll want to replace them.

Energy Efficiency

Take advantage of the home energy audits offered by PECO and PGW, which can help you prioritize improvements that will save you money while keeping the environment in mind. Starting in 2023, the energy-efficient home improvement tax credit offers credit for up to 30% of your expenses, capped at the limits below, for energy-efficient home improvements. 

  • Exterior doors ($250 per door, $500 total)
  • Exterior windows and skylights ($600 total)
  • Insulation and air sealing ($600 total)

Air sealing and insulation are just some ways you can improve energy efficiency in your home or investment property. For a list of 5 energy-efficient improvements to consider check out our article.

Kensington Yards

All of these improvements ultimately pay for themselves by increasing the sale price of your property, but that doesn’t mean you should put them off until you are ready to sell. Consider the benefits of making these changes while you can still enjoy them, along with your lower energy costs.

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