A farmhouse sink. LED lighting. A pot filler. You might think these relatively low-cost home upgrades wouldn’t add much value, but our research shows that these and other home upgrades with modest price tags could pay for themselves — or even generate big returns — when you sell your home.
An analysis of more than 271 features in the listing descriptions of 1.98 million homes sold in 2022 found that some home improvements are associated with higher than expected sales prices.* The features analyzed won’t guarantee that your home will sell for more if you include them in a for-sale listing. But the following upgrades — gleaned from those listings — offers a good starting point for moderately priced home renovation ideas that could add value to your home while making life a little sweeter.
Upgrade your kitchen features
If you’re looking for a place to start, you might want to begin with the kitchen. Sellers poured a lot of love into their kitchens, with upgrades that would have been considered unusual before people began spending more time at home cooking during the pandemic.
Appliances and features that became popular with home cooks over the past several years topped the list of features associated with a price premium in 2022. Among them: steam ovens, which snagged the number one spot among the improvements. Small steam ovens can be had for under $500, while wall ovens will run you several thousand dollars. The ovens may pay for themselves, however: listings that mentioned a steam oven sold for 5.3% more than expected.
Pizza ovens came in second, netting a 3.7% price premium on homes that mentioned one in their listings. Prices vary wildly for the ovens: a commercial grade oven can run you upwards of $10,000, and a residential kit for an outdoor oven can run about $3,000. But you can find some smaller portable units you can incorporate into an outdoor kitchen for several hundred dollars. Homes with farmhouse sinks in which to wash vegetables for all those fabulous pizzas sold for 1.2% more than expected.
Add a retreat space
When mentioned in a listing description, quiet rooms and personal spaces command a sale price premium of 2.5% for a “she shed.” Keep the cost affordable by creating the space yourself or decorating a shed you already own as a DIY project.
Go with LED lighting
Switching out older light figures for more energy efficient LED fixtures can save you money on your electric bill and could help you net a higher price when you sell. Homes with listings that mentioned LED lights sold for 1.5% more than expected.
Install radiant heat
Few things feel as glorious as stepping onto a heated floor after a shower, which may be why homes that include heated floors or radiant heat in their listings sell for a 2.1% premium.
Installing radiant heat can be an expensive undertaking, but adding it as part of a bathroom remodel could bring luxurious comfort and eventually pay for itself. Kits consisting of a 120-volt mat that covers a small area of flooring are available to help make this DIY friendly. The mats, which require a thermostat, must be connected to an electric source, so you might consider bringing in an electrician to help with the wiring.
According to home care app Thumbtack, the national average cost to install radiant floors with the help of an electrician is $5-$20 per square foot. Installation and operating costs will depend on the type of radiant heat you use, the size of the room, and the cost to demo and install it. For a small to medium-sized bath, you can expect to pay anywhere from $450-$700 for electric floor heating in a small to medium-sized bathroom.
Try “luxury” vinyl floors
Plank-style vinyl flooring, which can be purchased for as little as $2 square foot, can mimic the look of wood, ceramic tile or stone. It’s become popular with homeowners because of the ease of installing it and the relatively inexpensive cost compared to other types of flooring. Homes that included it in their listings sold for 1.4% more than expected.
Incorporate modern farmhouse style
While you can create a simple farmhouse look on a small budget, for the last few years, the focus has been on shiplap, a traditional wall covering of interlocking wood panels. Modern shiplap is attractive, and it provides additional insulation against cold weather. Some designers have suggested shiplap may go off-trend in the near future, however. Other elements of this style to consider adding include:
- Barnboard details
- Wide plank floors
- Wrought iron accents
- Vintage accessories
- Architectural salvage
- Reclaimed wood
The modern farmhouse look commanded a 2.4% price premium when mentioned in a listing description.
DIY Shaker-style cabinets
Installing a whole set of new cabinets is a pricey undertaking, but you can still incorporate the popularity of Shaker-style cabinets by replacing only the cabinet doors. You can typically buy individual doors at your local hardware store or cabinet store, or you can custom create them yourself. Home listings that mentioned Shaker cabinets in the listing description fetched a 1.7% price premium.
Home upgrades that add value don’t have to involve costly, disruptive or time-consuming renovations. But if you’re ready to go even further, these bonus-category home upgrades could also add value to your home.
Update your kitchen countertops
Buyers are clearly willing to pay more for an upgraded kitchen, and that includes countertops. Quartz and soapstone countertops were each associated with a 2.5% premium, terrazzo brought in 2.65% more and butcher block 1.25% more.
If you want to make these or other pricier upgrades while you still own your home and you’re short of cash but have at least 10% equity, you might consider home-improvement financing. A second mortgage lets you borrow a lump sum with a fixed interest rate. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, gives you a credit line with a variable interest rate.
If you’re ready to sell and don’t want to make upgrades yourself, a credit at closing toward the cost may help entice buyers who value these home features.
If you’re on the fence about whether to make improvements, you might also consider this: Homes with listings that included the words “fixer upper” sold for 4.1% less than expected.