image of renovations that increase value

Opening up space in a unit is always a value-adding move, experts say. From a StreetEasy listing at 201 W. 16th St.

Whether you’re fixing up a NYC home as an investment, or just want to tailor a space to your needs, you should know the renovations that increase home value.

To help with that, here’s a guide to renovations that will — or won’t — boost the price of a NYC home when you go to sell. We’ve consulted the experts at Sweeten, a free platform that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, as well as NYC renovation bloggers Barry Bordelon and Jordan Slocum, aka the Brownstone Boys. If you’re renovating to add value to your home, here’s their advice.

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What to Look for in a Property in Order to Maximize Resale Value

New areas where you can add value, say the Brownstone Boys, who have worked on a number of NYC renovations, including most recently, a historic Brooklyn brownstone. “See if it’s possible to add an extra bedroom, outdoor space, an extra bathroom, or enlarge the kitchen,” they advise.

Easy-to-change kitchen cabinet fronts. According to Jean Brownhill, the CEO and founder of Sweeten, if you can alter the cabinet doors by simply sanding and repainting them — or switch out the doors and hardware while leaving the interior boxes in place — it will make your property more valuable. That way, future buyers can envision putting their own stamp on the space, minus the hassle.

A neighborhood where people are willing to pay a lot more for a beautiful space. “There are neighborhoods where people will see a tired old place and pass,” say the Brownstone Boys. “But they’ll pay over asking for the same space and location if it looks amazing.”

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Historic detail. Bordelon and Slocum point out that there are so many plain and unattractive condos going up everywhere, but you can no longer build a prewar or historic home. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to buy a brownstone — there are only so many, and people are willing to pay more for them when they’re on the market.”

More bedrooms, less combined spaces. “Combining two bedrooms into a master suite and walk-in closet may seem like an asset, but it’ll take buyers out of the running,” explains Brownhill. For resale, it’s always better to have more designated bedrooms, not less.

Places that don’t need things like electrical or plumbing upgrades. “A lot of money can go inside your walls if that stuff needs repair,” the Brownstone Boys note. “When you show the place, people will look at the finishes, not the pipes in the walls.” Finding a place that requires only cosmetic work, and putting your money into that, will yield more bang for your buck.

Changes to Make (and Not Make) If You’re Renovating With Resale in Mind

Don’t get rid of your tub, unless… “It’s a tough call,” Brownhill says. “Families with small children will want a bathtub, while older homeowners may prefer a walk-in shower for easier accessibility.” Consider who has been moving in and out of your neighborhood—if it’s mainly younger families, keep that tub.

Add outdoor space. “It’s a precious commodity in NYC,” the Brownstone Boys note. “It’s expensive to add but it will always pay back many times what it costs and probably drive multiple offers.”

Open up the space. Spending money on removing a wall between the kitchen and living room will always pay off, according to Bordelon and Slocum. “Space is tight in NYC, so creating a feeling of a larger space will be desirable.”

image of renovating to maximize resale value

Bathrooms and kitchens are places to focus your efforts if you’re looking to maximize value. From a StreetEasy listing at 316 W. 22nd St.

Refresh the bathrooms and kitchens. Updating the most visible parts of your home, namely the kitchen and bathrooms, tends to bring the best value. “In addition to refurbishing cabinet doors, replace the hardware and fixtures,” says Brownhill, who also suggests replacing the countertops and backsplash. In the bathroom, she advises making it look “functional and clean,” by painting it and changing out the medicine cabinet for an updated model, as well as refreshing the tile and vanity and reglazing the tub.

Create a unique feature that sets the place apart. “In a plain-looking co-op we renovated a few years ago, we added inexpensive wainscoting on the walls in the dining area with vintage sconces above it,” recall the Brownstone Boys. “I think that charming detail is one of the things that helped sell it for many times what we bought it for.”

Swap out your fixtures. “If your lighting and plumbing fixtures look like they’re from the ‘80s, and not in a good way, consider replacing them,” Brownhill advises. Check out big-box stores for budget-friendly options and stick with clean lines and classic finishes.

Definitely Don’t Do These If You’re Seeking Resale Value

Don’t mix design themes. “Don’t create a Tuscan kitchen, an ultramodern white bathroom and a Gothic-inspired bedroom all under one roof,” warns Brownhill. “The inconsistency in styles can be jarring to a buyer.”

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Don’t go for expensive finishes. “No one looks at the brand of your handmade tile that you paid $10,000 for when the place is on the market,” according to the Brownstone Boys. That less-than-$1,000 tile still looks good and will have no bearing on your home’s value.

Don’t DIY the important stuff. “Avoid completing work yourself that should be done by a professional, such as tiling your bathroom or skim-coating your walls,” Brownhill says. Eagle-eyed potential buyers will notice if these jobs that require a high level of attention and detail have not been tackled by a professional.

Don’t splurge on a “smart home.” The Brownstone Boys assure us: “A renovated place with wireless-enabled light switches, sound systems, and other connected devices will get no more than the renovated place next door without those features.”

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.