10 Projects to Do If You Plan to Sell Your Home This Year

Make these improvements before you put your home on the market to wow buyers and maximize your sales price.

Projects you should take on before a move

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Projects to do if you plan to sell your home this year

If you’re putting your home on the market soon, your real estate agent might suggest a slew of improvements intended to encourage buyers to make an attractive offer. Because you may not have the cash to complete them all, you should focus on upgrades that buyers crave but that also offer a good return on your investment. Ahead are the 10 prized home improvements that are most likely to pay off when the house is sold. 

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Replace the Roof

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Replace your roof if you plan to move

When deciding between two homes of similar size and with similar features, buyers will often opt for the one with the newest roof. According to the National Association of Realtors, not only is a recently replaced roof a lure to buyers, but 33 percent of sellers said a roof redo helped them close a sale. Even better, you’re likely to make a tidy profit in the end: A new roof will recover 107 percent of its cost on resale.

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Install or Refinish Wood Floors

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Refinish floors if you plan to move

Durable, beautiful, and easy to clean, hardwood floors are coveted by homeowners, particularly those with pets or children, or who simply have limited time for maintenance. If you rip out your soiled, worn, or just old-fashioned carpeting and install a wood floor, you can recover, on average, 106 percent of the project cost upon resale. If your home already has wood floors, consider refinishing them: Potential buyers will appreciate the spiffed-up surfaces, and you may recoup 100 percent of your investment.

Related: Top Tips for Using a Floor Sander

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Replace the Garage Door

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Replace garage door if you plan to move

Sixteen percent of real estate agents have recommended that sellers replace a garage door, a project with an average cost of $2,100. Beyond its importance for household security and protection from the elements, the garage door is a crucial factor in curb appeal. If you install a sturdy, attractive new garage door, particularly if you also flank it with stylish new light fixtures, you could recoup, on average, 95 percent of the cost.

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Upgrade the HVAC System

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Upgrade HVAC system if you plan to move

Although the average home inspection doesn’t involve an in-depth examination of the HVAC system, the system is an integral feature of any house, and it's expensive to repair or replace. For these reasons, potential buyers will ask many questions about the age, condition, and maintenance history of the water heater, furnace, and other HVAC components. To make sure buyers don't give your house a pass, if any of these components are past their prime, it may be in your interest to replace them. This project could entail installing completely new appliances or just replacing certain components, such as ductwork, air handlers and evaporators, refrigerant supply lines, and thermostats. While an HVAC replacement will set you back $8,200 on average, you may recoup about 85 percent of the cost upon the sale of your house.

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Upgrade the Insulation

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Insulate home if you plan to move

Is your home too hot in summer and too cold in winter, despite the best efforts of your heating and cooling system? The culprit may be insufficient insulation, a common failing of houses built before 1980. Adding energy-efficient insulation to attics, walls, basements, and crawl spaces can immediately reduce your energy bills and will make your home more attractive to buyers. As well, you can, on average, recoup 83 percent of the project cost.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Today's Most Popular Insulation

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Upgrade Kitchen Fixtures

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Upgrade kitchen fixtures if you plan to move

Right before you sell your house is not the time to embark on a wholesale renovation to create the kitchen you've always wanted, but you may have more success on the market if you update certain features. Dingy countertops, sagging cabinets, or damaged or worn sinks are prime candidates for replacement. Even if these fixtures are in good shape, if they're dated or quirky, replacement may be a good idea. Also, depending on the local market, the quality of homes you'll be competing with, and the condition of your kitchen appliances, you may want to upgrade some (or all) of them. Even a restrained renovation offers outstanding value for the investment: You can do a minor remodel of a 200-square-foot kitchen for around $23,000 and recoup nearly 78 percent of the cost upon the sale of your home.

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Repair the Electrical System

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Repair electrical system if you move

At minimum, your electrical system must be deemed safe and functional to clear the home inspection. But with homeowners more dependent on devices than ever before, and the rise of smart-home features like doorbells and security systems, potential buyers may be on the lookout for deficiencies in your home's electrical system. Don't give them a chance to find fault. If you're handy, you can probably identify and repair minor problems on your own, from flickering lights to dead doorbells, but call in an electrician if your home experiences electrical surges, tripped circuit breakers, or other recurring, unexplained problems.

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Replace the Front Door

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Replace front door if you plan to move

You get just one chance to make a first impression, so if your home's front door is drab or weather-beaten, switch it out before the first open house. Today’s steel or fiberglass doors offer good looks and durability, and you’ll recover upwards of 70 percent of the project's cost when you sell.

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Refresh the Bathroom

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Refresh bathroom if you plan to move

A full-scale bathroom renovation can easily top $35,000, and you can expect to recoup just a little more than half of that on resale. But small changes can spruce up this inner sanctum where homeowners spend up to an hour each day. Concentrate on a few basic upgrades that will make the bathroom more inviting to potential buyers without breaking the bank. For instance, swap out dated cabinet pulls for sleeker hardware, regrout the shower, add towel bars or rings for greater convenience, and, of course, fix a leaky sink, tub, or toilet immediately. 

Related: 18 Bathroom Updates You Can Do in a Day

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Paint the Interior

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Paint home if you plan to move

You want the inside of your house to seem clean and fresh to potential buyers, so now's a good time to break out the brushes and rollers. While you may be able to get away with painting just one or two rooms, you may need to go over the entire interior. Even if the current paint job is holding up well, if the paint colors are too bold or idiosyncratic, cover them up with a fresh coat of a light-colored neutral like white, beige, or tan. Buyers will probably be more attracted to your house if it presents them with a sparkling, unblemished canvas that they can turn into something that's truly theirs.

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