First Team Real Estate logo


In order to get top dollar for your home, it’s got to be in tiptop shape. That’s why most sellers begin home improvement projects before listing their home. New roof, new flooring, new kitchen, etc. The list can go on and on but the fact is, there are some projects that have a terrible return on investment (ROI) that all home sellers should avoid.

The 2016 Cost Vs. Value report breaks down common home improvement projects to show job costs, resale value and percentage of costs recouped. We took a look at the Los Angeles area specific report to get the best idea of what projects are a bad idea for Southern California sellers in particular.

Project: Upscale Deck Addition (composite)

Job Cost: 45,351

Cost Recouped: 59.2%

Composite decking is more durable than wood but it’s also several thousand dollars more expensive to put in. Homebuyers love outdoor space but the resale value added doesn’t quite add up to the cost of a new upscale deck. If you’re really itching for a deck addition however, opt for a midrange wood addition. According to the report, you can recoup 84.6% of your costs – a lot more bang for your buck than an upscale composite addition.

Project: Upscale Bathroom addition

Job Cost: $93,413

Cost Recouped: 65.9%

The Survey of Construction (SOC) from the US Census Bureau Avoid reveals that Americans want more bathrooms. But that doesn’t mean a major construction project needs to get added to your seller to-do list. In fact, avoid bathroom additions all together. You will only recoup 66.5% of job costs even if you decide to go for a modest midrange bathroom addition.

Project: Upscale Bathroom remodel

Job Cost: $64,617

Cost Recouped: 70.4%

A bathroom remodel will fetch you more for your money than a full addition but it’s still a costly project that isn’t worth it before your sale. Buyers do pay close attention to bathrooms however, so instead of an addition or costly remodel, focus on small updates like a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Small changes add the most value to your home, not big ones.

Project: Major Upscale Kitchen Remodel

Job Cost: $133,598

Cost Recouped: 74.5%

A major upscale kitchen remodel according to the report includes custom cabinets and shelves, stone countertops, backsplash, high-end built-in appliances, new flooring and new lighting. Phew, that’s a long list! And the price tag won’t hold it’s value when you sell.

However, one of the most lucrative projects according to the report is a minor midrange kitchen remodel with a cost recoup of 108%! For a fraction of the price ($24,043) you can focus on small but effective updates that are worth every penny, and then some. A minor kitchen remodel includes new cabinet fronts, new energy-efficient appliances, replacing laminate countertops and installing a new mid-priced sink and faucet.

Project: Upscale Master Suite Addition

Job Cost: $281,285

Cost Recouped: 76.7%

As this list shows, major construction is never a good idea before a home sale. It’s the small updates that go a long way toward resale value. Instead of going all out for an upscale master suite addition, focus on staging what you already have. Staging can increase your home’s value by up to 15%, creating a positive first impression on homebuyers.

For more advice on how to get top dollar for your home, ask a First Team agent about The NEW Rules of Real Estate. They are 10 rules for today’s home seller and they are the way we do business here at First Team.

Email us at

Call us at 888-870-1142