You probably already know that a kitchen remodel is one of the best uses of your investment dollars.
A minor kitchen remodel recoups 80.5% of its cost, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2019 report, which ranked it the third highest percentage among renovation projects in the study. A major kitchen renovation recoups 62.1%.
The kitchen is extremely important to buyers, and for good reason. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two rooms where they’ll spend a lot of time, and the two rooms with big-ticket items. Many buyers are maxing themselves out on a house purchase and don’t have the funds available to spruce up a kitchen or a bathroom after the expense of buying a home (plus moving).
Many other buyers simply want their new home to be move-in ready, without the headache of a home improvement project. They probably waited months to get into this house, and they’d like to settle in and get on with life.
But what to tackle, and how far to go? That depends.
Here are tips to renovate the kitchen for maximum ROI:
1. Consider the neighborhood
It’s one of the Golden Rules of fix and flip investing: never over-improve a property.
Hopefully you’ve done your due diligence and have accurately calculated your project’s resale value already. But have you gone even deeper and checked out the amenities in those comps?
Before you lift a hammer (or hire one), make sure you know what the neighbors’ kitchens look like.
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Understand the features: are granite or stone counters the norm, or no? Stainless steel appliances, tile, custom backsplashes? The goal is to meet expectations for the area and then be the best of the group — without going too far. You probably don’t need a Sub-Zero refrigerator on a block full of first-time homebuyers.
2. Replace cabinet fronts
Remodeling Magazine’s “minor kitchen remodel” averages $22,507 for a functional but dated 200-square foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry and countertops.
As part of that remodel, the cabinet boxes are left in place while the fronts are replaced with new shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts, including new hardware.
It’s an often-overlooked hack: replace cabinet fronts rather than the entire structure. If the cabinets are in solid structural condition, you don’t have to tear them down, especially in lower to mid-range markets.
3. Update hardware and faucets
It’s amazing how effective new cabinet and drawer handles and knobs are at elevating the entire look of a room. Same goes for kitchen faucets.
You don’t want to be too trendy, so look for hardware that is modern and classic. When you replace dated brass knobs and handles with brushed nickel or something similarly neutral, you’ve removed components that scream “old” while still keeping your budget low.
For the sink, consider a sleek gooseneck faucet, which is a particular nicety in the first-time homebuyer market. It’s expected in higher-range remodels, where you’ll then consider things like pull-out spray nozzles vs separate sprayers, soap dispensers, and touchless faucets.
4. Fresh paint
It works for every room of the house: a fresh coat of paint in the right color will transform the look.
In fact, paint should be a given in any remodeling job. But as with anything else, make sure you do it right. A paint job is more than slapping one coat onto the walls; you want to properly prep and to repair anything that needs fixing.
Once you start prepping, you find lots of nail holes, divots, scratches, and the like. Fill those in, smooth them out properly, apply a coat of primer if necessary, and then start painting.
5. Replace laminate counters
Be cautious here. This is about sprucing up a dated look and adding functionality, but you don’t want to overdo it. If the neighborhood doesn’t call for granite, you don’t need to install customer countertops. But you should replace anything that is old and worn, or simply out of date.
A new countertop will give the entire room a different look. So find the proper materials and replace those countertops. Bonus: it also makes for a nice before-and-after photo.
6. New flooring
A lot of older homes have linoleum floors that have been there for decades — and it shows. Think faded and yellowing. If you have dingy-looking floors, nothing else will matter.
Tile floors always give a room a polished look and can be reasonably-priced. But if tile is beyond your budget, or it doesn’t fit with the neighborhood, look into laminate with its variety of styles and lower price point. It’s also durable and easy to maintain, which is always popular.
Here, it doesn’t matter how functional: if you’ve got avocado-green appliances, they need to go.
New appliances are also a great selling point, particularly in the first-time homebuyer market, where buyers aren’t likely to have funds left over for big-ticket items like refrigerators, oven ranges, or dishwashers.
Commercial-style appliances give the kitchen a stylish look, work well, and come in a variety of price points. You can find nice-looking appliances at big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes, which typically work well for most rehab projects.
While you’re at it, take a look at the kitchen sink. Today’s sinks have deeper bowls than those of years past, and a new sink simply looks cleaner. Kitchens and bathrooms are two rooms where cleanliness is of utmost importance, after all.
Kitchen remodels can be a lot of fun when done right, and they transform your entire rehab project. They also are great for your portfolio photos.
Buyers get excited to walk into a home with a brand-new kitchen and appliances at a price they can afford, and you’ll feel great about the product you offer.
If you’re mindful of the neighborhood and your budget, you’ll be able to consistently upgrade kitchens that give you a killer ROI on a kitchen remodel while offering a quality product to the homebuyer.