Residential Buyers or Seller

Bathroom Upgrades with the Greatest ROI

Bathroom Upgrades with the Greatest ROI

If you’ve ever watched a show on HGTV, you know that two key areas of a home can make or break a home sale. I’m talking about kitchens and bathrooms. Today, I want to talk to you about the latter — and what you can do to spruce it up, whether you’re preparing your home for sale or simply want to improve your space.

Bathroom renovations typically have a high return on investment. HGTV estimates the ROI on bathroom renovation spending is 80-130%. According to the estimates provided by the National Association of Realtors®, a bathroom remodel can recoup 60% of the amount you’ve put into it.

So what are some things you can do to capitalize on this high-traffic space in your home?

While sinking $10,000 into average bathroom remodeling and $26,000 for more upscale renovations (the national averages according to Remodeling magazine) may seem like an extravagant expense, your bathroom greatly affects your home’s value.

An immaculate modern bathroom communicates consciously and subconsciously to the comfort, style, and value the rest of home portrays. Nothing is more alienating to a prospective buyer than an outdated, dysfunctional bathroom, especially considering the high costs and headaches associated with water damage and mold growth.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends having a six-month plan to ensure things go smoothly, as major bathroom renovations last between 2 and 3 months on average. Be forewarned: as with most renovation projects, bathroom costs and expectations can quickly get out of hand, especially when homeowners are eager to sell their homes. That said, let’s look at various aspects of the bathroom and see what types of renovations can add more value to your home.


Choosing the right bathtub for your master bathroom is worth some careful consideration. Some home buyers feel that a bathtub takes up too much space, while others make it a focal point of their relaxation. Some buyers prefer or need accessibility (i.e. mobility-impaired individuals), and for them, a bathtub may be a deal-breaker. For those that prefer elegance, a clawfoot tub may be appealing. Having a bathtub in one bathroom and a shower in a second is a solution to suit all needs. Ensure that any bathtub you select matches the overall theme of the room (for example, you would not install a Victorian claw-foot tub in a modern bath).

Sinks And Countertops

One way to add value to your bathroom is to focus on the countertops and the sink. A popular trend is to invest in a stone countertop.

Typically, bathroom countertops tend to be smaller than kitchen countertops, so you can spend a significantly smaller amount of money and still get a desirable spa-like quality. One strategy for saving money and adding value is to purchase a slab that contains some imperfections. If you make sure that the imperfections are masked by the sink that will be placed in or on the stone surface, you get the best of both worlds without having to pay the higher price of a flawless slab. It also helps to think creatively.

One common trend for DIYers is to take an old dresser and mount a sink on the top as a pedestal, or recess the sink on the top counter, creating an elegant solution. This is also useful if you’re struggling to find adequate cabinet space to fit the look of your bathroom.

Don’t forget to update the faucet, as well. Attractive metals like stainless steel or polished nickel can bring some extra “oomph” to your bathroom. However, be sure that the hardware matches the faucets, or your bathroom might have a hodge-podge feel that will ward off more finicky buyers. Finally, you can make your bathroom even more attractive to new couples by offering multiple sinks for his and hers.

Cabinets & Storage

Bathrooms offer a challenge for homeowners in terms of storage. After installing a sink, bathtub, toilet, and shower, you still need to have somewhere to store hygiene items and towels. In addition, these storage solutions must be aesthetically pleasing, so it can be a balancing act to make sufficient space without making the room appear unattractive or overly utilitarian. However, there are solutions to make the most of available space:

  • Vertical: Most bathrooms don’t utilize the upper wall space, leaving these spaces barren. To remedy this, try installing multi-tiered shelving units in strategic places, with towels within easy reach of the bath/shower. Alternatively, recessed alcoves between wall studs can create useful spaces for holding smaller items.
  • Moveable: Using baskets or hampers for items can make the most of spaces where cabinets cannot fit. Be sure these moveable additions match the décor of the bathroom, even if they are not included with the sale of the house.

As for the cabinets, be sure that the materials are up to date and not reflective of short-lived trends, as these can work against a seller when they fall out of favor. Make sure the colors of cabinets are neutral and are made of a moisture-resistant wood appropriate for the bathroom.


An attractive and functional shower is a great way to attract home buyers who may imagine luxurious and refreshing daily rituals when they purchase the home. Frameless glass shower enclosures enhance the spa-like feel of the atmosphere, match just about any color scheme, and are more appealing than flimsy plastic enclosures.

Don’t forget to consider who will be purchasing your home when renovating your shower. There are various options on the market, but it helps to update the showerheads in accordance with the type of home buyers you’d like to appeal to. For potential owners under 45, multiple showerheads are a go-to choice. For older home buyers, hand showers that can assist seated individuals may be best. Seating also plays a factor for the elderly and infirm, who prefer some resistance when showering and should have somewhere to sit for safety and health reasons.


Bathroom tile can be one of the more expensive features to renovate, so it pays to be deliberate in your choices. One smart way to save money is to limit tile strategically, focusing only on a specific area of the floor instead of the entire floor (e.g. inside the shower stall). Another clever trick is to use the expensive tile as an accent, mixing it in with less-expensive tile to save money, but also highlight the costlier tile with contrast. Because of the cost, you may want to align your renovations in accordance with the tile’s color and attributes. While installing a heated bathroom floor is a nice touch, it will not return a reasonable ROI, and tearing up your floor can be needlessly expensive and time-consuming.

Bathroom Ventilation

There’s more to remodeling your bathroom than meets the eye. While it may be nice to have a window to open after a steamy shower, this is an old solution. The focus on modernity is automation and efficiency. If your bathroom does not have a modern ventilation system, consider installing one as a top priority.

Moisture from excess humidity fogs mirrors, makes the floor especially slippery, and creates a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Having moisture under control is vital to ensure that not only are the physical hazards minimized (e.g. slipping on wet tile), but also the quality of the air and the damage that can result from mold and rot. Make sure that the ventilation system exhausts air to the outside of the home, not the space between the joists of the ceiling, attic, or other interior space.

Consider ventilation systems on the market that contain features such as quiet exhaust fans and humidity-sensitive switches that automatically activate when moisture build-up in the air reaches a certain threshold.


One way to spruce up your bathroom at a fraction of the cost of more labor-intensive renovations is to look at how your bathroom is lit. Lighting around your vanity mirrors can bring a luxurious feel to everyday grooming.

Adjustable lighting for soaking in the tub can create a relaxing atmosphere to the bathroom, as well. Some light fixtures offer heat lamps that can create a mini-sauna for the bathroom that works in conjunction with your ventilation systems.

As a rule, eliminating dark spaces and inadequate lighting adds value for potential home buyers.


Like lighting, one of the more inexpensive and effective ways to spruce up your bathroom is to invest in a few cans of fresh paint. Pay careful attention to how you paint if you choose to go DIY, however; attention to detail is critical, and a few blobs of paint on the tub, sink, and so forth can undermine the improvements you’ve made. Also be sure to find a high-quality, mold-resistant paint that can ward off mold growth, and don’t forget to paint the ceiling, where hard-to-clean surfaces can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew.

Update the Fixtures

The little details do matter, especially under the scrutiny of those who view your home with an eye to buying it. This includes the light fixtures, door knobs, towel racks, cabinet handles and so forth, all which can rust and degrade from constant use and moist atmosphere.

Caulk and Grout

Like a fresh coat of paint, paying attention to the fine details can bring a new look to your bathroom at a minimal cost. Cleaning grout may be tedious, but restoring its original hue can make the surrounding elements “pop.” The same goes for caulk — a tube of caulk is inexpensive. A fresh application of caulk, especially clear or matching-white colors, not only brings out the other elements, but also prevents moisture from eroding the structure of the bathroom.

Going Green

No, we’re not talking about painting everything in your bathroom green, not unless you really want to. We’re talking about the trend of making your bathroom more environmentally sound. More and more home buyers are looking to find homes that feature ethically-sourced materials and conserve resources (e.g. water, power). These include:

  • Low-flow sinks, toilets, and showerheads. They can typically be found for the same cost or even for less than traditional models.
  • Automatic light switches. Some models adjust the amount of light based on the amount of daylight or if there’s an occupant in the room. Great for forgetful people!
  • Purchasing used or repurposed materials. Nothing is greener than recycling old materials, like a vintage clawfoot bathtub, as you reduce consumption. Thrift stores often have an assortment of used/reclaimed furnishings that not only have a vintage appeal, but are also sold well below the price point of similar types of fixtures bought new.

Theresa Miller, Broker, Realtor, CEO
(310) 713-8459

We are The M & M Team Realty. We are Residential Realtors working with clients to purchase, sell or lease. We specialize in clients who need to sell or purchase property due to life changing events (i.e. trust, probate or divorce). We understand the urgency and sensitivity of the clients needs.

We are The M & M Team Realty, “The Answer to Your Life Changing Events”

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