Top 5 kitchen and bathroom renovations to maximize resale value

HGTV host: home sellers get the best bang for their buck when they upgrade storage, surfaces, décor and appliances

For real estate pros and home flipping hobbyists, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show is the place to be to get the lowdown on market trends, and this year the three-day expo is kicking off on Jan. 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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Although the industry exhibition may help attendees fine-tune their skills or discover design solutions, there are few who have single-handedly flipped as many houses as HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” co-host Tarek El Moussa.

HGTV Flip or Flop, real estate partners, Christina Anstead and Tarek El Moussa 

Having renovated around 500 houses across Southern California and every U.S. region, El Moussa knows that a nicely designed kitchen and bathroom can make all the difference in a sale.

“I look at the kitchen and the bathroom kind of like the rims and the audio system on a car, you know, people like the bling and they like to show off the kitchens and bathrooms,” he told FOX Business. “Those are the two areas of the home where it would be the owners of the house spend the most amount of their time and they'd like to show it off and they like to be proud of it.”

I look at the kitchen and the bathroom kind of like the rims and the audio system on a car, you know, people like the bling and they like to show off the kitchens and bathrooms.

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That happiness and pride people feel when they enter these personal spaces can very well result in a higher profit margin for the seller.

Kitchens tend to be the pricier room to renovate out of the two, though El Moussa noted that “a brand new kitchen will always be more than if you have an old kitchen.”

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In his line of work, El Moussa has found that sellers get the best bang for their buck when they upgrade storage, surfaces, décor and appliances.

“If the cabinets are in good shape, then it’s just painting the cabinets and putting new hardware in at a minimum, it brings it back to life, it makes it look newer,” he said while suggesting sellers look into new handles and knobs as affordable upgrades.

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If the kitchen countertop is still in good shape, it's okay to leave the countertop, but it's a good idea to put a new backsplash in because it's easier to do and it's cost-effective and it gives a lot more glean to the kitchen.

“So, there are little things you can do to increase the value without ripping out your whole kitchen,” he explained. “If you do research online, you can get a new set of appliances, for around $3,000 for a full kitchen.”

When it comes down to which appliance finish will add more value to the kitchen, El Moussa noted that stainless steel is more popular than standard old white appliances. It, of course, costs more to have a premium finish, but it is the trendier option of the two.

Bathroom renovations require similar upgrades, though, the priority order is a little different.

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“The little things people should do, which is simple: new bathroom flooring, really easy to do; paint a vanity cabinet or get a new vanity cabinet; new lighting and mirrors in a bathroom make a huge difference,” El Moussa said. “And if the budget is there, retiling the shower obviously makes a huge impression.”

Popular tile upgrades include cement, marble stone like quartz material and other patterns.

For older houses, upgrading utility systems such as lighting and plumbing can be worthwhile investments, but it can also drive up the price depending on how laborious the project is. Alternatively, painting a bathroom or adding greenery are cost-effective ways to spruce up the space.

When it comes down to the smart kitchens and smart bathrooms that will be displayed during KBIS, El Massou doesn’t think sellers should be discouraged if their house doesn’t have the latest tech gadgets.

“If you had someone going to buy a home, they wouldn't not buy the home because it does not have the smart home features … Although there would be an added benefit,” he explained. “In the future, it might be different but today it’s not necessary.”

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