If you're preparing to sell your home, you may wonder which improvements you absolutely need to make to find a buyer in today's market at the best possible price.
In my experience as a real estate appraiser, a brand new kitchen or bathroom will add to the overall value of your home, as will new, high-quality windows.
However, it is important to consider whether you will recoup your investment before moving ahead. You may be better off pricing your home lower to reflect the existing condition of your home, especially if you would like to move soon.
Also weigh the expectations of buyers in your community and think about the properties to which they will be comparing your home.
If most similar homes around town have high-end kitchens, a home with a utilitarian or dated one may suffer a significant dip in value. However, if you live in a community of modest means, potential buyers may not be expecting new top of the line appliances and granite counter tops, and it therefore may not hurt your home value much if your kitchen isn't a showstopper. In fact, it may not be a good idea to add such expensive improvements, because you will then have to price yourself out of your market to get back your investment. A good broker can guide you on this.
Broken or damaged systems in your home--such as the plumbing, electrical system or HVAC system--will negatively affect the value in virtually any community. The same holds true for roof leaks. You will generally need to fix such problems or to make a concession in your selling price that reflects the market reaction. A problem like a major roof leak may make it extremely difficult to sell your home at all, and it may require very significant concessions.
There are some improvements that are generally not worth it. For instance, some home sellers paint the rooms of their home in designer colors. Doing this may not win points with buyers, because they may not have the same taste. And an appraiser will not appraise your home at a higher value because you invested in pricier sage green paint instead of off-white. Save the money for other improvements that will really make a difference.
Remember, you're leaving, so your goal should be to spend as little as you can to make your home as appealing and valuable as possible.