By Tom Kraeutler | The Money Pit – Wed, Jun 5, 2013 7:03 PM EDT
A few cheap bathroom renovations can actually help you sell your home. When potential buyers stroll through a home, they're looking for the features and amenities that best match their lifestyle. Every choice you've made impacts a buyer's interest, and you can get closer to the reality of a sale with a simple, one-step bath renovation.
"Bathrooms are one area where home buyers make decisions because it will be one of the most used rooms in the house," says industry expert Nora DePalma of O'Reilly/DePalma. "Make them look bright, absolutely spotless, and loaded with storage options. Your home will sell faster and at a better price."
These bathroom renovations are low-cost, where a little DIY savvy can go a long way toward making your home appeal to a wide range of shoppers. Here are five cheap ways to transform a bath without breaking your pre-sale budget.
1. Introduce a neutral palette: When you're showing a home for sale, one of the main priorities is to present a neutral but appealing space in which potential buyers can envision their own day-to-day lives. So even if you love bold color or a wallpaper print in your bathroom, tone it down for the sake of the sale. Painting walls with a neutral shade or even a pale, soothing blue or green will contribute to the perceived scale and serenity of the space. Freshen the entry door, cabinetry and trim with a crisp white for a clean look and renewed focus on the room's built-in details.
2. Use your WaterSense: If your toilet is more than 15 years old, upgrade in both performance and water efficiency by installing WaterSense-labeled fixtures. Switching in a new water-saving faucet allows you to re-accessorize the room, and reduce water flow by at least 30 percent without a downgrade in performance. Smarter showerheads provide spa-style amenities while using under 2.0 gallons of water per minute. And high-efficiency toilets (HETs) are now the norm in up-to-date, resource-conscious homes, saving the owner over 4,000 gallons of water per year. "Save money in many areas that provide rebates for high-efficiency plumbing products," says Jeannette Long of American Standard, which hosts a rebate locator.
If you make any or all of these green upgrades to your bath, highlight them in home listings and open house collateral so that shoppers know they're looking at lower utility bills as well as new fixtures.
3. Let there be (better) light: Illuminate the best features of a bathroom and add convenience by amping up the lighting scheme. Just replacing a few fixtures with energy efficient, eye-catching styles, you'll transform the space and reduce energy bills. When choosing bathroom lighting, focus on fixtures that provide task lighting at the vanity and over the shower or tub, overhead lighting for general illumination, and accent lighting to define architectural features. Also make the most of any opportunities for natural lighting: Skylights and glass-block windows will let the sunshine in but still provide privacy.
The ventilation specialists at Broan-NuTone have solutions for any system redo, all with sleek looks, quiet fan operation and optimum efficiency. "We make an upgrade kit for builder-grade-model fans, which will actually quiet the fan down by about 50 percent and increase the performance of it by 20 percent," says Karen Collins of Broan-NuTone. "The kit also includes a new grille, and you can make these changes in under five minutes."
If you're in the market for a complete unit replacement, check out Broan-NuTone's selection of super-quiet, Energy Star-qualified ventilation fans. They cost less than a dollar a year in energy to run, and are available with integrated lighting as well as humidity sensors that save you the trouble of switching the fan on when it's needed and off when it's not.
5. Replace flooring: Transform a bath from the ground up by installing a new floor. The small footprint of most bathrooms makes this an affordable improvement, and new flooring options combine moisture resistance with the look of favorite finishes. Lumber Liquidators' line of Tranquility resilient flooring offers a great range of natural wood looks and textures made from a water-resistant, easy-to-clean vinyl material. In a peel-and-stick plank format, it's simple to install over existing flooring and backed by a 25-year warranty. Tranquility flooring is also a sustainable choice for your bathroom upgrade, as it's produced with recycled raw material.
If you're updating a powder room, other flooring options like natural hardwood are possibilities. But for a full bath, stick with materials that will stand up to everyday use and humidity. "Anywhere you have a full shower or tub, you want to avoid a wood, a bamboo or even a laminate, simply because of the moisture," advises Lumber Liquidators' John Jakob.
You don't have to spend a fortune. Take on a few cheap bathroom renovations that will deliver the greatest return on your investment, and sell your home faster.