Nearly every homeowner has a list of improvements they want to make that’s usually much larger than the amount of money in their bank account. That means that choices have to be made and projects have to be prioritized. While not every home improvement project needs to be looked at through the lens of adding resale value to your home, many homeowners want to at least factor that into their decision-making process. That's why our West & Woodall REALTORs are sharing their insights and expertise on the top home updates that pay off as well as things to keep in mind when determining which improvements to tackle to increase the value of your home.

Why Home Updates That Add Value Are Important

Strategic home renovations or updates can markedly enhance the comfort, functionality, and resale value of your property. With the right remodel projects, you can not only raise the enjoyability bar for your home, but you can significantly reduce future maintenance costs, lower utility bills, and ultimately, increase your home's market appeal.

Here's a look at just some of the ways home improvement projects can do that.

  1. Maintain or increase property value: Keeping your home updated can help maintain or increase its value. Potential buyers are often willing to pay more for a home that is up-to-date and well-maintained.
  2. Improve functionality: Home updates can help improve the functionality of your living space. Whether it’s adding more storage, updating the kitchen layout, or creating a more open floor plan, updates can make your home more functional and enjoyable to live in.
  3. Increase energy efficiency: Updating your home with energy-efficient appliances, windows, and insulation can help reduce your energy costs and make your home more environmentally friendly.
  4. Enhance comfort: Updating your home can also enhance comfort by improving insulation, upgrading heating and cooling systems, and adding features like a smart thermostat.
  5. Address safety concerns: Updating your home can also help address safety concerns such as outdated electrical systems, faulty plumbing, or structural issues that could pose a risk to you and your family.
  6. Keep up with trends: Updating your home can help keep it current and on-trend. This can be important if you plan to sell your home in the future or if you simply want to enjoy a modern, updated living space.
  7. Personal enjoyment: Finally, updating your home can simply make it a more enjoyable place to live. Whether it’s updating the decor, adding features that cater to your lifestyle, or creating a more inviting outdoor space, home updates can help you create a space that reflects your personal style and needs.

Things to Keep in Mind When Making Improvements to Increase Home Value

Before we get to specific updates, there are some general things to keep in mind when considering whether a project will add value to your home and give you a return on investment.

Brooke Fulford
Brooke Fulford
  • Make sure any improvement is done well. (Otherwise, it may not truly be an improvement - right?) According to REALTOR Brooke Fulford, "DIY projects are great; just ensure you're doing things correctly and with high-quality materials. If you know that it’s something that most homeowners will want or expect in a home and you’re not completely confident in your abilities, you may want to consider hiring a professional for at least the hardest parts. That may actually be less expensive than investing in the time and materials just to have to pay for them again to have any mistakes corrected."
Hope Galunas
Hope Galunas
  • Make improvements that are comparable to the neighboring properties. REALTOR Hope Galunas advises, "Don't make major luxury upgrades in a neighborhood that doesn't have homes with similar features." Of course, if you simply want to make that update for your enjoyment of the home, that's fine; you just can't count on being able to recoup the cost when it comes time to sell the property.

Top Home Updates That Pay Off

When it comes to making updates to your home, the sky is the limit. But thinking about improvements that make the most sense helps to bring us back down to earth and ground us a bit more. Here's a look at what we think are the best home improvements that pay off.

Preventive maintenance

Kirk West
Kirk West

West & Woodall Co-Owner and REALTOR Kirk West says, "The home improvements that should take priority are preventive maintenance. Those types of improvements will make sure that you are able to enjoy your home while you’re in it and not be plagued by problems. Then, when it comes time to sell, you won’t have to worry that there are significant issues that have to be addressed or that would prevent you from getting the most from your investment."

Kitchen updates

Matt Lawing
Matt Lawing

The kitchen is the place where many homeowners want to start when it comes to making updates, but it's important to think about whether they make sense. REALTOR Matt Lawing explains that if your kitchen works fine functionally and all of the appliances are less than five years old, you probably won't get your money back out of a major kitchen remodel. "Where you're going to get money is if you've got an older kitchen where the countertops, cabinets, and appliances are outdated. If you replace all of those things, you will absolutely see a return on investment."

Nick Syros
Nick Syros

Nick Syros with CoCreations Construction and Design agrees that upgrading outdated kitchen cabinets is one of the best home improvements that you can make. "Upgrading kitchen cabinets in a way that fits your personality and the current value of the home is not only a good investment, it's also a good way to fall in love with your home all over again."

According to Remodeling Online's 2023 Cost vs. Value Report for the Raleigh, NC real estate market, the average cost of a minor midrange kitchen remodel would be nearly $27,000, which should add nearly $23,000 to the resale price of the home(1). To understand what the publication considers to be a minor midrange remodel, you can download the report at

Bathroom Upgrades

The most common bathroom updates to increase home value include installing a new shower or bathtub, updating the vanity and sink fixtures, and adding new tile flooring or a tile backsplash. The key to making bathroom improvements is to consider functionality first. It's better to fix obvious functional flaws before setting your sights on more cosmetic aspects.

Will Aucoin
Will Aucoin

REALTOR Will Aucoin offers his recommendations. "Reglazing a tired tub with a durable enamel coating can make tubs look almost new. In addition, fresh paint; new mirrors, light and plumbing fixtures; and installing a new toilet are also updates that will add the most value to your home." If you live in Durham, NC, the City of Durham gives rebates for up to $100 for WaterSense High Efficiency Toilets (2).

Remodeling Online says a midrange bathroom remodel will cost nearly $26,000, which should add just over $16,000 in resale value (1).

Exterior updates

Some of the most high-value improvements to the exterior of your home might include repainting the exterior, updating landscaping and curb appeal, creating an outdoor living area, and installing a new front door and a new garage door.

If you haven't given your garage door much thought, maybe it's time you should. Remodeling Online's report shows that installing a new garage door costs about $4,500 but you should get approximately $4,400 in resale value out of it. That's 98% of your cost recouped (1).

When it comes to landscaping and curb appeal, Lydia Krause with Sundial Landscaping recommends bringing focus to the front door because it makes a property more welcoming. You can do that by adding pathways and walkways and making sure that there's a clear line of sight to the front door.

Once you have your walkway, Brooke Tart suggests showing it off with landscape lights. "These not only look good at night, but they help to add definition to your walkway. That helps to turn an ordinary walkway into an accent that ties your yard in with the house."

For exterior paint, Hope Galunas says, "The condition of the paint on your house and its color are among the first things that people will notice. They help to give personality to a house and say a lot about how it’s kept up overall."

Another popular home upgrade is to convert some of your vinyl siding to a stone veneer. According to Remodeling Online, removing a 300-square-foot continuous band of existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the street-facing façade and replace it with adhered manufactured stone veneer cost around $9,900 in 2023 and should add approximately $10,500 in resale value. That's recouping 106% of the cost(1).

Energy-Efficient Upgrades

While most home buyers may not put energy efficiency at the top of their list of things they're looking for, the cost-effectiveness achieved with such improvements could make you stand out from other homes on the market. If you're looking for energy-efficient upgrades that add value to your home, replacing windows with energy-efficient models, adding insulation to the attic and walls, and installing a programmable thermostat all make sense.

Chad Collins
Chad Collins

Local home builder, Accredited Master Builder and Master Certified Green Professional Chad Collins with Collins Design-Build recommends vinyl replacement windows for moderate-priced homes because they are both energy-efficient and affordable.

Remodeling Online says vinyl replacement windows cost around $19,000 and add approximately $12,600 to the resale value (1).

Flooring updates

  1. Updating flooring is a valuable home improvement for several reasons:
    Increased property value: High-quality flooring can significantly enhance the value of your home. Potential buyers are often willing to pay more for a home with updated and stylish flooring.
  2. Improved aesthetics: Flooring is a major design element in any home. Choosing the right type, color, and texture can greatly improve the overall look and feel of a room. Replacing damaged or outdated carpets, especially those with stains or jarring colors can significantly enhance your home's appeal and value.
  3. Better functionality: Different types of flooring offer different benefits in terms of comfort, maintenance, and durability. Updating allows you to choose materials that better suit your lifestyle and needs.
  4. Increased energy efficiency: Certain types of flooring, such as hardwood or laminate, can help improve the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. This can lead to lower energy bills and a more comfortable living environment.
Terri Reynolds
Terri Reynolds

REALTOR Terri Reynolds says, "In the past few years, I have seen more people going with Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). It looks really good, is easy to clean, and moisture will not damage it. If not LVP, then definitely hardwood floors and tile floors. Folks are not using carpet or vinyl much anymore."

Paint interior walls

Repainting the interior walls of your home is a cost-effective way to refresh its appearance and can significantly boost its value. To manage costs effectively, consider DIY projects, choose premium paints that will last longer, and schedule professional painters during the winter months when they may offer lower rates.

According to Brooke Fulford, “If you're planning to sell your home and want to avoid repainting, it's best to stick with neutral colors. These colors have broad appeal and can help potential buyers envision their own style in the space.”

The Bottom Line on the Top Home Updates That Pay Off

Home improvement projects require thoughtful consideration of cost, potential return on your investment, and the latest trends in home design. By focusing on high-ROI upgrades and keeping in tune with what today's buyers want, you can make strategic decisions that allow for the full enjoyment of your house now while paving the way for a financially rewarding sale in the future.

How to Ask Us About a Potential Home Improvement Project

If you’re considering a home improvement project that you’d like us to weigh in on as far as whether it will add value to your home, we’d love to hear from you! While our agents can’t address specific examples, they’d be happy to offer general guidance. Simply email, and we’ll get to your topic as soon as we can.


  1. ©2023 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at
  2. City of Durham. Toilet Rebate Program.