HomeGain 2011 Home Improvement National Survey Results

Posted by: Louis Cammarosano on January 18th, 2011

HomeGain.com announced today that it has released the results of its nationwide home improvement and home staging  Home Sale Maximizer™ survey. Past findings from the survey have been a guide for thousands of home sellers in preparing their homes for sale.

HomeGain recently surveyed nearly 600 real estate agents nationwide to determine the top 10 low cost*, do-it-yourself  home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell.

The top five nationwide home improvements that Realtors recommend to home sellers, based on average cost and return on investment (ROI) to sellers, are:

  1. Cleaning and de-cluttering ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI / 99% recommended)
  2. Lightening and brightening ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI / 97% recommended)
  3. Home staging ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI / 80% recommended)
  4. Landscaping ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI / 93% recommended)
  5. Repair Electrical or Plumbing ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI / 92% recommended)

Costs are averages and rounded up.

Cleaning and de-cluttering continues to  rank as the top suggested home improvement (since the survey was originally conducted in 2003). This low cost home improvement is recommended by 99% of Realtors and costs less than $300 but has a returning value of nearly $2,000 to the home’s sale price, or a 586% return (ROI).

In 2007 survey results, Lightening and Brightening had the second highest ROI followed by Home Staging. In the 2009 survey, Home Staging overtook Lightening and Brightening. The leapfrogging continues with the 2011 survey as Lightening and Brightening reclaims the number two position.

“Sellers need to prepare their homes for sale before putting them on the market,” said Louis Cammarosano, General Manager at HomeGain.  “Homes that have initial appeal have a better shot at selling faster and closer to the asking price than homes rushed to the market with no improvements.”
Rounding out the top 10 DIY home improvements are:

6. Update  kitchen and bathrooms ($1,265 cost / $3,435 price increase / 172% ROI / 75% recommended)
7. Replacing or  shampooing carpets ($647 cost / $1,739 price increase / 169% ROI / 98% recommended)
8. Painting interior walls ($1,012 cost / $2,112 price increase / 109% ROI / 96% recommended)
9. Repair damaged floors ($931 cost /$1,924 price increase / 107% ROI / 93% recommended)
10. Paint outside of home ($1,467 cost / $2,222 price increase / 51% ROI / 81% recommended)

Try the Home Sale Maximizer Tool below:

Get the Home Sale Maximizer widget for your website by clicking here.

In comparison to the 2009 survey results, the top five home improvements were the same, except that Lighten and Brighten and Stage home for sale were flipped for second and third top home projects.

The home improvements with the highest price increases to a home’s resale value is Updating the Kitchen and Bathroom ($3,435 price increase), followed by Painting the Outside of the Home ($2,222 price increase) and Home Staging ($2,194 price increase).

Surveyed REALTOR® commentary:

“I’m AR, a Realtor in Portland for over 20 years. Typically removing clutter and opening up spaces does the trick in a home that shows well. On ones that don’t show well I usually have them stage, paint and manicure their yards.” – Athyantha Rao, Portland, Oregon

“Homes should be neat and clean and free of clutter and they should be painted if the current paint job is more than 3 years old.” –  Jim Mazzeo, Weichert Realtors, Mazzeo Agency New York, New York

“I don’t think that you get any monitary value from staging your home in the long run, but it does sell the home faster and generates more interest right from the start. The intent is to get it SOLD not to sell for more.” – Chris Canfield, Calcagni Associates, Cheshire, Connecticut

“We believe staging is so critical. We own our own staging company and provide a $3,000 staging for free as a part of our listing package.” – Carl Medford, California Prudential Realty, Castro Valley, California

“We are a military town. Basic home improvements, a clean de-cluttered home, animal free, along with decent pricing are what moves our market.” – Anna Lea, RE/MAX, Jacksonville, North Carolina

“Staging, I think, is the most important item when selling a home. I usually give my clients a free consultation, so no need to hire anyone. But if they hire someone, I think it’s the best money they will ever spend. You need a neutral party who knows what homebuyers focus on when looking at homes.” – Harry Martin, RE/MAX United, Escondido, California

“Major concerns for buyers in the market for resale homes include age of roofing materials (or remaining life expectancy) , age of ac/heat systems and age of kitchen appliances, and whether or not the former owner made investments in upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms.” – Earl Cannon, Florida

“I’ve found that professional staging can aid in helping sell the home much faster 20%-30% faster and for up to 15% more money.” – Randall Hannaway, Colorado Group Realty, Inc., Steamboat Springs, Colorado

“Most important staging advice – DE-CLUTTER & clean up!”  – Laura Wheeler, Keller Williams, Louisville, Kentucky

“Homes that are “Priced to Sell” and “Staged” to look better than all other competitive listings are the homes that are selling in this challenging housing market.” – David Jaffe, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Arlington Heights, Illinois

“Buyers are going to change the house for their taste. The house needs to be clean, de-cluttered, and neutral to sell.” – Betty Frame, At Home Realty Group, South Bend, Indiana

“Hire a home stager? What am I, chopped liver? Isn’t your home selling professional supposed to be educated in what sells and how to sell?” – John Sheppard, Texas

“Most of the homes in our area are sold to working class people who are more interested in structural issues than cosmetic. As long as the home is clean, uncluttered and bright it will sell in a reasonable time frame if priced properly” – Ann Marie Chopick, Pennsylvania

“I always tell clients to stage. It’s more effective than price reductions and usually costs less in the long run.” – Edward Sullivan, Massachusetts

“Buyers are looking for bargains and most sellers do not have the funds to put back into a property that has lost much of its value. The most important thing is to make a first impression by having a less cluttered, clean and bright home. Any major repairs should be done that could affect the property value.” – Donna Rice, Hawaii

“Staging is always encouraged and past experience/sales dictate that homes sale in less time and for more money. The trick is getting the Seller to part with the money upfront in this economy.” – Heather McNicholas, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Westminster, Colorado

“Homes nowdays have to be turn-key ready. However, before we can get the buyer in the door, the property has to be priced right.” -Jennifer Vaughan, Florida

“Most of our issues are sellers not being able to afford to do updates and repairs. It does have an impact on the maximum home price a seller is able to get and also shortens the time a home is on the market. I try to work with them to rearrange, declutter and do a few no or low cost projects to spruce a home up. For those sellers that have the money to update and make improvements prior to listing a home it does make a dramatic difference in their virtual tour photos, number of showings and shortens the list to under contract time.” – Nancy Watkins, Utah Homes & Land, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah

“People would rather pay less for a home and decide themselves how to upgrade it.” – Renah Bell, New York

*The term “low cost” is defined as less than $5,000.

Definitions of Home Improvement categories:

Cleaning and de-cluttering: Remove personal items; wash and clean all areas of inside and outside of house; freshen air; remove clutter from furniture, counters and all areas of the home; organize closets; polish woodwork and mirrors. See complete cleaning checklist.

Home staging: Add fresh flowers; removing personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance room/s; play soft music; hang artwork in walls. See complete staging checklist.

Lightening and brightening: Open windows; clean windows and skylights inside and outside; replace old curtains or removing curtains; remove other obstacles from windows blocking light; repair lighting fixtures; make sure window open easily. See complete lighting checklist.

Landscaping: Front and back yards; add bark mulch; rake and remove leaves, branches and debris; plant bushes and flowers; add planters and hanging plants; mow grass; water lawn and plants; remov weeds and dead plants; manicure existing plants; any yardwork that improves the curb appeal of a home. See complete yard checklist.

Repair Plumbing: Update leaky or old faucet spouts and handles; repair leaks under bathroom or kitchen sinks; laundry room pipes; toilets should be in good working condition; remove mildew stains. See complete plumbing and electrical checklist.

Update  electrical: Update electrical with new wiring for modern appliances and/or Internet and other audio/visual equipment requested in homes today; door bell should work; service sprinkler systems; fix lights and outlets that do not turn on; replace old plug points with new safety fixtures. See complete plumbing and electrical checklist.

Replacing or  shampooing carpets: Steam carpet thoroughly; replace worn carpet; securing carpets to floor; eliminate creaks in floors under carpets by driving nails into creaky area (through carpet).

Painting interior walls: Fresh coat of paint in rooms throughout the house; remove dated wallpaper; whitewash dark paneling; paint front door; have leaks repaired and watermarks covered. See complete interior painting checklist.

Repair damaged floors: Patch, repair or replace hard wood floors; clean and wax linoleum; replace missing tiles; re-grout tile floors; eliminate creaks in floors. See complete floors and carpet checklist.

Update kitchen: Updating moderately priced appliances like microwaves, dishwashers, stoves; repair damaged counter tops; fixing cupboard doors; repairing broken shelving or pantry; fix hardware like doorknobs and cabinet handles; repair any water damaged surfaces or areas; garbage disposal should work properly; retouching with paint if needed. See complete kitchen and bathroom checklist.

Paint outside of home: Fresh coat of paint around exterior of home and garage; paint shutters; paint window ledges; repairing damages to chimney; paint or re-stain fence. See complete exterior painting checklist.

Update bathroom/s: Update moderately priced bathroom fixtures; sink; toilets should function properly; fix leaky faucets; repair shelving and towel racks; add new towels and mats; repair vanities and mirrors; clean sliding glass shower doors; replace shower curtains; re-grouting tiling. See complete kitchen and bathroom checklist.


HomeGain received survey responses from nearly 600 real estate agents in each of the U.S. regions. All agents might not necessarily agree on the same pre-sale strategy.  See “% of agents recommending” column above. Differences of opinions may vary based on the climate of the market, region of the country or condition of the home in question.

Home Sale Maximizer Home Improvement Tool:

If you are preparing to sell your house, Home Sale Maximizer can help identify and prioritize the home improvement projects to focus on to increase the saleability and selling price of your home. Home Sale Maximizer is a free, quick and easy-to-use tool for homeowners, and it’s also a great resource for real estate agents to provide to their home seller clients.

See the  HomeGain Home Improvement Survey Press Release

View the top 9 GREEN Home Improvements




31 Comments on “HomeGain 2011 Home Improvement National Survey Results”

Mike Jolly

At Mike Jolly’s Handyman Service of Beaverton We believe in only Eco-friendly moss removal and roof cleaning techniques, so we are very impressed with all you do to help keep our environment safe.

Wagner Leite

Thank you for this incredibly helpful post. It has been a long while since I’ve seen such an informative post. I will definitely use these number when planning for my personal renovations.

Tim Rush

We look forward to seeing one of the positives of the bursting bubble, that is more people improving their existing homes. This should increase values down the road as well.

Robert Worthington

Louis, I agree 100% with the top 10 low cost home improvements. Would you allow me to link to this page from my blog at moving2palmbeach.com? I feel it’s important every seller see this.

Louis Cammarosano

sure you can

Jim Reed

Thanks for passing along these results. Very interesting stuff.

Jacksonville Foreclosure Attorney

It really does show what certain percentage of items improve the selling ability of a home

Property in Vietnam

Great article. It brings to light what people prioritize when it comes to home improvements.

Brampton Home Staging

Great information that you’ve posted here. Home Staging offers a stress free way to prepare your home for sale and as you can see already, the ROI is great. Thanks for the post.

Indian Natural Stones

Very informative stuff. thanks for sharing with us.

renovation information for your bathroom

good report of Home Improvement National Survey

Property Preservation NC

A very interesting post!Informative surveys with helpful checklists plus an eco-friendly tips all in one! Do you have other home repair and improvement stuffs? This post is really remarkable.

Keep posting,

Louis Cammarosano

Hi Jen
Thanks for taking a look. CLick on the Home Sale maximizer icon in the middle of the blog post above for check lists

Jill Gargus

I own a Home Staging company in Edmonton, AB, Canada and love your site. I use your charts as part of the home staging consultation process. It’s important to have outside stats when encouraging a client to do home staging. Thank you!

Kerry Anne

Thank you for all the stats. I own a Staging company in Jacksonville, Fl and use the handouts and stats with prospective clients.

Katee of The Zia Group

Here in Santa Barbara these are also items that we encourage among our sellers for fast selling at desired prices.
It’s amazing the importance of a first impression and how effective staging and cleaning are in giving buyers a vision for their it being their home.
These graphs and stats are great! Will share with prospective buyers for sure.

Chimney Sweep Portland

A very informative posts for everyone who is into home owning as well as real estate. Home improvement expenses can blow your mind if you don’t have any idea on what to expect.

Keith Bennett

Thank you for the great info. That will help with the listing appointment I have this evening.

Adirondack real estate

I really like your and suggestion about home renovation. Improving your home, in the long term, can raise its value, not to mention, give you a nice place to rest your head. The problem usually is that people treat home improvement much like they treat everything else. Home buyers need to think about resale values – especially in an uncertain economy. Thanks for sharing.

Bathroom Renovations

I am always searching online articles for home improvement that can help me. Thank you

Comox Valley Real Estate

While the savings differ, the same kinds of improvements are also valid in Canada. It is important to know which improvements are most effective in terms of the value added to homes. Some “improvements” can actually decrease the value of homes as viewed by potential buyers.


This article is very informative and very helpful specially to those who planning for the renovation of their house.

home renovation for bathrooms

Nice post! Useful information and excellent design you got right here! I would like to thank you for sharing your ideas stuff you post! Great work!

Floor Sanding and Polishing Brisbane

I really appreciate your work and suggestion given here on home renovation. We need to give more importance on Improving our home. This helps us in the long run. We need to think about home improvement, which give us a real value to our home.

Calgary New Homes

Home renovation can really enhance the beauty inside our home. The article above provided us new ideas pertaining home renovation. Thanks for sharing!

Dana J. Smithers

Fantastic to have some current information like this. Great job!!!!

fredericksburg va real estate

I look for this survey every year and give it to my clients. This is such valuable information. Thanks!
fredericksburg va real estate

trade plumbing supplies

We do some home improvement to have a new look in our house. When I plan to do some improvement maybe its the color.

Jacob Wilson

A very insightful post! Straigthforward surveys with helpful checklists plus an eco-friendly tips all in one! Remarkable! This post is very informative for everyone who is into home owning as well as home repair like me. Home improvement expenses can blow your mind if you don’t have any idea on what to expect and that includes heating and air conditioning maintenance and repair.


I love this article. Cleaning and De-Cluttering is what I really like. I thought staging is the one would give a us huge benefit. I was surprised to see the Cleaning and De-Cluttering on the top of the list.

click here

Great. I spent hours fiddling with this yesterday… same problem… distracted by old blog posts .

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