Small improvements can make a big impression on potential buyers.
Sep 15 2020
Courtesy of Zillow
Not surprisingly, a recent Zillow survey¹ found that most people — 81% — reported spending more time at home this year compared to the same time last year. Some of us might be feeling a little stir-crazy, but others are taking the opportunity to tackle home improvement projects. You may decide to change up your space for your personal enjoyment or comfort, but if you’re a homeowner looking to sell, it’s worth considering which projects will not only look good but offer the best return for your time and effort.
Zillow partnered with Thumbtack to determine the average costs of a few common improvements sellers make before listing their home for sale. By better understanding the costs, you can decide whether it’s worthwhile to DIY or call in a pro.
Whatever route you take, a few well-chosen updates could improve your home’s appeal and value. Zillow data finds homeowners who make at least one improvement are more likely to sell their home above their list price than those who don’t make any improvements: 23% vs. 17%, respectively.² With sale prices climbing and homes selling at their fastest pace in more than two years, this may be a good time for would-be sellers to start prepping their homes for listing.
“There are small things anyone can do to present their home in a better light,” said Sue Cohn Darmon, a Zillow Premier Agent in Connecticut with William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty. “First impressions go a long way, especially since buyers are now spending more time searching online for homes. Listing photos are going to look better if the home appears well-maintained. If the small things are taken care of, the assumption is that the bigger things that aren’t visible have been taken care of too.”
Here are five DIY projects recommended by agents that could help increase your home’s value.
Upgrade your lights
Good lighting can bring out the best in your home. Updating old fixtures and adding dimmer switches are fairly simple upgrades. You could also consider replacing your fixtures with smart lights controlled by an app, which can help you save on your energy bill and sell your home faster. Zillow research finds homes mentioning smart lights in their listing description sold seven days faster than expected.
Here’s a DIY guide to changing a light fixture, or if you want a professional installer to do the job, Thumbtack finds the average cost is $380.
Replace your faucets
Whether your look is modern or traditional, a new faucet can enhance the style of your bathroom or kitchen. Make it a touchless faucet for added appeal, as COVID-era buyers increasingly look for smart features that will keep their homes germ-free.
With attention to detail and a tolerance for tight spaces, you can handle this job yourself, but if you’d rather leave the under-sink contortions to a pro, Thumbtack finds, on average, you can expect to pay $205 to replace bathroom fixtures.
A desire for more outdoor space is the top reason people say they would consider moving as a result of social distancing recommendations, according to a Harris Poll survey conducted for Zillow.³ There’s no better time to spruce up your yard and create the functional, beautiful outdoor space buyers want.
If you don’t like getting your hands dirty (literally), expect to pay $2,600 on average, according to Thumbtack, for a professional landscaping business to clean up your yard, which typically covers mowing, pruning, weeding, planting new flowers or shrubs, and adding new soil, mulch or bark dust. Zillow research found homes mentioning landscaping in their listing description can sell for 2.7 percent more than expected, so depending on the value of your home, it could be a worthwhile investment.
Add a fire pit
Now that you have a nicely landscaped yard, go one step further and install a fire pit to create a family-friendly backyard hangout. Listings mentioning a fire pit can sell for 2.8 percent more than similar homes, according to Zillow research. Interestingly, that sale premium is higher than homes mentioning an outdoor fireplace or a chimenea. An added bonus: This is a DIY the whole family can help with.
Paint your front door (and more)
A freshly painted front door can boost your curb appeal, and if you’re thinking about selling, you may be surprised by the winning color when it comes to ROI: Homes with black front doors can sell for up to $6,000 more than similar homes, according to Zillow research.
If it’s in your budget, consider painting the whole exterior (probably not black, though!) to create a great first impression. In a survey of Zillow Premier Agents, 77% recommended sellers paint their home.4 Thumbtack finds the average cost of exterior painting is $2,535.
1. Zillow Group Population Science Survey on Time Spent at Home, conducted 7/16/2020 – 7/21/2020
2. Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019
3. This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Zillow from May 4-6, 2020 among 2,065 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Zillow Group partnered with independent market research and data analytics firm YouGov® to conduct a nationally representative, online quantitative survey that gathered information from 1000 sellers that sold a home in the past 6 months and 500 residential real estate agents. For more information visit zillow.com/report