9 Most Sought-After Home Improvements

By Kealia Reynolds

When you’re getting ready to list your house, knowing what buyers are in the market for is key. LA Homes graphed census data detailing frequency of specific characteristics of new-construction single-family homes in the US from 1976 to 2016. Making sure your home is up-to-date with these features can help make sure your home gets scooped up sooner than later.

Chart Source: LAHomes.com

1. Air conditioning

It took air conditioning a few decades to become a priority during the homebuilding process (it was in less than half of new homes in the 1970s), but this feature is now in more than 93% of new-construction homes. If you have an older home without AC and are looking to sell, installing central air conditioning could be a competitive selling point, even if you live in a cooler climate like central California or the North East.

2. Multiple bathrooms

The idea of family members fighting over a single bathroom is outdated and isn’t very high on the list of home buyer wants. Decreasing from 40% to just 3% frequency in new-construction homes in 42 years, 1.5-bathroom homes are becoming a thing of the past. Consider having two full bathrooms and possibly more (most homes have three or more baths).

Though adding additional bathrooms is one of the more costly updates, a modern, updated bathroom is often top of the list when it comes to increasing resale value, so you’ll likely land solid ROI in this change. If you can’t squeeze a bathroom addition, consider a bathroom remodel to make sure your bathroom is up to date.

3. Bedrooms

These days, most new-construction homes have three or four bedrooms. However, it’s important to note that the four-bedroom number of houses has doubled in from 23% to 46%, while the three-bedroom home has lost some traction—this could mean that home buyers are going after larger homes.

4. Exterior materials

The exterior materials used to build a house will depend on a region’s climate and style preferences in the area (and your HOA may require you to use certain materials). Though wood used to be more popular in the 1970s and 1980s, 27% of new-construction homes currently use vinyl siding, probably because of its relatively low cost, long lifespan, and minimal upkeep (when compared to wood siding). Fiber cement and stucco are also seeing more use in new-construction homes.

Other home improvements to consider

When an appraiser looks at the value of your home, they compare the actual age of the house to its effective age—the age determined by interior and exterior upgrades. Aside from the previous four trends, here are five more features that can keep your home feeling fresh and buyer-ready.

1. Roof repair or replacement

According to LA Homes, “Putting in a new roof is a way for homeowners to quickly and significantly update the quality of their home’s exterior,” generating an ROI of around 70%. When choosing a new roof, the most important factors to consider are longevity, cost, durability, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

View our guide on the six most popular roofing materials, ranked by durability and cost, to make an informed decision when choosing your new roof.

2. New windows and flooring

Older windows can decrease the energy efficiency of your home and rack up costly utility bills. Consider adding low-emissivity (low-E) windows around your house, which can can reduce energy costs by 12%–33%, making them one of the most energy-efficient options for homeowners.

Additionally, most mid-range and luxury homes have hardwood floors, which come with an appealing ROI of 70–80%. If installing hardwood floors doesn’t fall within your renovation budget, laminate or luxury vinyl plank are lower-cost alternatives. If you currently have hardwoods, make sure they’re in top shape for selling by getting them refinished.

3. Kitchen renovations

Installing new kitchen countertops is one of the most popular kitchen renovations and can provide an instant refresh to the whole space. Marble and soapstone countertops are high-quality options that are attractive to many buyers (thanks, HGTV). In addition to upgrading your countertops, consider refinishing your cabinets and swapping for new hardware for a cosmetic upgrade.

4. Paint upgrades

As a practical way to maintain the look of your home’s interior and exterior over time, LA Homes recommends periodically repainting your house. This can give homeowners an opportunity to freshen up their home with trending colors and make their house look brand new, which goes a long way toward improving curb appeal.

5. Curb appeal

When upgrading your home, don’t forget the larger curb appeal. Curb appeal and landscaping are extremely important to selling your home quickly and for a good price. The ROI will vary between projects, but trimming hedges, planting trees, and adding flower beds to your property will have an overall positive effect.

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