If you’re planning on listing your home this year, no doubt that you have given some thought on how to boost your home’s value and curb appeal. No matter how tranquil or competitive the real estate market is in your neighborhood or city, putting in work ahead of putting your home up for sale can pay off in the long run. In this article, we’ll run through the choices homeowners have to make when upgrading their home—and the best home improvement projects that add value.

Consider the ROI of a large-scale remodel

There’s a certain tipping point where small, incremental changes to your home are going to have diminishing returns. If it’s been a decade or two since you remodeled your home, chances are that many of your neighbors—some of whom may be direct competition when you list—have leapfrogged you by completing an overhaul. Your 1980s galley-style kitchen is going to have a hard time directly competing with their stone countertops and open floor plan. Instead of lowering your asking price—which will either cut into your equity return or mean you broken even—you might want to consider remodeling your home.

Focus on your kitchen and bathroom first. These are the two areas of your home where you’ll get best-possible return-on-investment. They’re also the places that buyers tend to look at first to assess the quality of the property. If you’re looking to attract several offers above asking price, a remodeled kitchen is a great place to start. Consult with a design expert and see if it’s possible to remove walls and embrace an open-kitchen concept. Install new granite or quartz countertops and match them to new cabinets. Pair these upgrades with new appliances—a functional upgrade that you can enjoy while you’re in the home that will also boost your home’s value.

Don’t forget the basics

A failing roof or an aging air conditioner could be enough to turn off many buyers. You’ll want to deal with these issues first, before you list. If your home is located somewhere that experiences either sweltering summers or frigid winters, it’s important to schedule regular, professional HVAC tune-ups to ensure that the cooling and heating systems are in good working order. This can help make the sale process smoother—you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the air conditioner, heat pump, or furnace are likely to pass the buyer’s home inspection.

Remember to make small, quality-of-life upgrades

Not every homeowner has the cash on hand to make major renovations. However, you can still make some upgrades that improve the overall “curb appeal” of the property without spending a small fortune. Here’s our best tips for making your home one listing that prospective buyers won’t just scroll past online:

  • Keep the landscaping simple: Overgrown and messy landscaping can be a major turnoff for buyers. Simplify your outside landscaping with easy-to-care-for features like river rock, pavers, and light flowering shrubs. Grass can be a big plus for those with children or pets, so be sure to keep some grass in the yard.
  • Add lighting: Adding pendant lighting over the kitchen counters, downlights in the living room, or floodlights for the yard can make the place feel a lot more welcoming, inviting, and safe—especially at night.
  • Embrace technology: Buyers will appreciate long-term tech upgrades like smart thermostats, video doorbells, electronic locks, and more. For the relatively low amount of money these upgrades cost, the curb appeal they add to your home is worth it.

The first impression matters.

Ask any realtor and they’ll tell you: curb appeal still matters. In the age of online listings, that crucial first impression is more than just what your home looks like from the street. It’s about what buyers think about your home as they scroll through pictures of it in your listing. In a competitive real estate market, it’s up to you to make your home stand out above the many other listings in your neighborhood and community. A home remodel, done right, is the perfect way to add both value to your home and boost that digital curb appeal.

Start with the tips in this article, but also consider talking to home remodelers, realtors, and even your neighbors about what upgrades have paid off for them or their clients. If experience is the best teacher, be willing to learn from others, and you’ll be on the road to a more attractive home that—when you finally list—will yield more high-quality offers from serious buyers.

Victoria Reimer is the communications director and senior writer at Reimer Home Services, a professional home repair & HVAC company servicing Western New York. She has been working within the home repair industry for almost 15 years and enjoys sharing her insights on home repairs with homeowners and real estate professionals. At Reimer, we understand that being invited into a customer’s home to perform a service is a privilege, and we take this responsibility very seriously.