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Improvements add the most value for real estate flippers & investors.

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

Flipping houses isn’t about making them as beautiful or fashionable as they can possibly be. It’s about making the highest return you can possibly earn on each individual home.

Sure, your bridge loan might cover the renovation costs, but “financed” is not the same as “free.” Part of learning how to flip a house is gaining efficiency: how to maximally improve home values on a minimal renovation budget.

Before you remove a single nail, look at property values in the neighborhood, the recent sale prices of comparable homes, and how long they sat on the market. Online resources like Zillow and Trulia are free and easy places to start, but also work with a Realtor intimately familiar with the neighborhood before renovating to help you decide the best home improvements for resale value in your market.

We asked LendingHome’s Valuations department what home improvements add the most value and why. Based on what they see in the market, here are the seven best home improvements to increase home value for projects both large and small. 

Update or renovate the kitchen for best value

There’s a reason why kitchens are the first place many investors look when evaluating how to increase home values. People have a visceral connection with kitchens. Once hidden from houseguests as a purely functional room, kitchens have evolved to become central gathering places. And unlike a living room, which changes little over the decades beyond paint and flooring, kitchens wear their age openly.

Full Renovation: Does your fixer upper need a brand-new kitchen from scratch, or can you update the existing bones? If you go for a full renovation and remove all the existing cabinetry and fixtures, pause to ask whether the existing floor plan is as modern or efficient as it could be. Could there be a better return on investment if you added an island, or perhaps arranged the dishwasher? Could the oven, sink and refrigerator be more conveniently located? Before splurging on granite or marble counters, consider quartz or new synthetic stones. They can be more budget friendly, hardier, and come in a wider range of colors.

Selective Updates: Don’t assume that renovating the kitchen will inherently deliver high ROI. Sometimes doing less delivers more bang for your budget. Perhaps the cabinetry and countertops are in good shape, and only the appliances are dated. Stainless steel remains in vogue despite several decades of favor. But if you want to push the style envelope, consider the new darker stainless steel look.

When possible, opt for energy efficient appliances to add even more value, and look for “provable” claims about how much more efficient the new appliances are than their peers.

If the cabinets look a bit dated, but are sound otherwise, a new coat of paint can give the kitchen a fresh feel. Consider swapping in stylish new knobs, handles, and other hardware for an instant cabinet makeover.

Focus on bathroom fixtures, finishes and efficiency

Second to kitchens, bathrooms are the other area where homes show their age most, and they inevitably appear on any list of which home improvements add the most value.

Full Renovation: Replacing old sinks and toilets with more water-efficient and space-saving models can provide an open feel. His-and-hers sinks are an especially appealing touch for the master bathroom.

Getting rid of linoleum in favor of sharper flooring will do wonders.

If the bathroom has a shower, replacing the tile and/or tub can provide visual appeal for an otherwise boring room.

Selective Updates: Wondering how to increase home values on a budget, without doing a complete bathroom remodel? Swap in new fixtures, including faucets, handles, and other sink and shower fixtures. Don’t forget cabinetry hardware, which is another affordable update that can dramatically improve a bathroom’s look. Remember, paint goes a long way, and not just on the walls. Could you salvage an ‘80s-inspired bubble-gum pink sink stand by painting it a more timeless white or black? What about the cabinets? Dated-looking fixtures can often be instantly modernized with a simple coat of fresh paint.

The best home improvements for ROI don’t necessarily require a new floor plan or sparkling new installations. Savvy real estate investors know how to increase home values with the least intervention possible.

Increase home value with new paint & flooring

Fresh paint and new flooring may be basic house improvements, but they’re no less effective to increase home value for their simplicity.

Full Renovation: Many older homes may have a combination of worn-and-torn flooring or carpet. Hardwood looks sharp of course, b