Is it Worth Updating Your Kitchen to Sell the House


The kitchen is a huge deciding factor for homebuyers when they are considering which house to buy. Buyers know that it’s a room they will spend a lot of their time in, but it could be disappointing if it needs updates and repairs.

When it’s already updated, a kitchen will not only increase property value but desirability.

However, is the cost to update a kitchen worth it?

Remodeling the kitchen before selling the house will normally take a minimum of $12,200 and $149,079 for a major remodel, the average cost range lies between $12,800 - $21,200. However, 80% of homebuyers in 2021 listed the kitchen as the most important space and the national average ROI for a minor remodel is 72.2% and 54% for an upscale remodel.

Read below to see what kitchen features matter for buyers, the average cost of remodeling, and what your budget should take into account.

How Desirable is the Kitchen to Buyers?

Kitchen is the heart of homesBecause kitchens can be costly investments it’s tempting not to bother with any remodeling, but think about how the kitchen is labeled as “the heart of the home.” It’s where we spend a great deal of time every day, not just making amazing meals for our loved ones, but also being the place where homework gets done while enjoying a snack, or friends gather to share the latest news. 

It’s the new living room that comes with food in it!

So, it’s no wonder that when homebuyers are looking at houses, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms for them to consider. And, if your kitchen needs updates, they might rule your house out even if it has all the other features they are looking for.

What Features In Kitchens Matter Most to Buyers?

What Buyers Looking in a Kitchen

Not all kitchens are created equal and not every update is necessary. Some homebuyers will be looking for a very specific style of the kitchen while others will be happy with any type as long as it functions well.

The best way to determine what updates your kitchen should have is to look at the features that homebuyers are wanting in their next home.

Some of the most popular features that buyers are looking for in a kitchen are:

-A Gourmet Kitchen: This is a kitchen that has high-end appliances and cookware, as well as a lot of counter space.

-An Open Floor Plan: This is when the kitchen is open to other parts of the house, such as the dining room or living room.

-A Modern Kitchen: This is a kitchen that has updated appliances and fixtures, and often uses sleek or minimalist design.

-A Rustic Kitchen: This is a kitchen that has country elements, such as wood cabinets or farmhouse sinks.

-A Traditional Kitchen: This is a kitchen with classic features, like white cabinets and subway tile backsplashes.

Include an Island in Your Kitchen Remodel

More than half of homeowners remodeling their kitchens (55%) are adding or upgrading an island, while 7% are keeping one that was already in place. A minority of remodeled kitchens (38%) have no island. - from a houzz survey

Island Changes During Kitchen Renovations

Does a Kitchen Remodel Sell a Home Faster

According to, homes that include updated “luxury” kitchens sell 8% faster than homes in the same neighborhood with kitchens that need work. It’s an important selling point that, at the time, 69% of their property listings used the kitchen as a major selling point.

How Much Does a Remodel Usually Cost?

If you remodel your kitchen, you need an idea of how much you would have to spend. How much a remodel costs depends on the scale of the remodel.How Much Does a Remodel Usually Cost

Minor remodeling won’t change the layout or expand its space, but it can breathe new life into the kitchen with a mix of new and touched-up countertops, flooring, appliances, paint, and/or fixtures. This scale can be costly enough at $24,000.

Major remodeling tends to add new key lighting in addition to new flooring and appliances, custom or semi-custom cabinetry, an island, and sinks. The cost is compounded with the necessary touchups such as repainting the walls. The average cost is $69,000.

So, back to the original question: is it worth updating your kitchen to sell your house? It depends on how much you need to update your kitchen and how much money you want or need to spend. Keep in mind that a fresh coat of paint and new cabinets can do wonders for your home's appearance - but be prepared to spend some money if you want a more luxurious kitchen. 

What is Your Budget?

Budgets are the first obstacle when remodeling, and we understand that. If your objective is to buy another home, probably more expensive, you want to sell your house for the most money. You don't want to leave money on the table.

If you’re going to create a budget for remodeling, we need to consider a few things.

Cost of labor

Kitchen Remodel Budget

- Most people are not carpenters, plumbers, or electricians. Odds are you will need at least one of these professionals to complete your remodel and their cost is not cheap.

Design fees - If you don't have the time or inclination to design your own kitchen, chances are you will need to hire a professional. This person's time is valuable so plan on spending at least $1,000 for good design work.

Contractor Fees - Many contractors will want a down payment before starting the job

The size of your kitchen

- If your kitchen is large, it will obviously be more expensive. More cabinets, more counter space. If you're expanding your kitchen, the cost goes up.

The most necessary repairs

- Start with the necessary and obvious.

The most wanted features

- Do you want a quartz counter or granite? Do you want hardwood floors or tile? These are decisions that will add to the cost of the remodel.

If you're not sure where to start, we suggest talking to a designer. They can help take your ideas and turn them into a plan that will meet your needs and stay within your most wanted features

Whether you can afford minor or major remodeling

Updating your kitchen is a great way to add value to your home. Keep in mind, however, that it's expensive and time-consuming - so make sure you're prepared for the commitment before you get started.

Will you change the layout?

One of the biggest decisions you'll have to make when updating your kitchen is whether or not to change the layout. If you're not happy with how your kitchen is currently laid out, a remodel is a great way to change it. However, keep in mind that this will add to the cost of the remodel.

What materials do you want to use?

-Choose materials wisely. Don't go for the most expensive option available. Choose something that fits your needs and your budget.

How much can you do yourself?

-Do some of the work yourself - If you're willing to do some of the work yourself, you can save a lot of money.

-Hire a professional for the more difficult tasks - If you're not comfortable doing something yourself, hire a professional. This will add to the cost of the remodel, but it may be worth it in the end.

How much time will the remodeling take?How much time will the remodeling take

-Remodeling can take a lot of time. If you're not prepared for the disruption, it may be wise to reconsider.

-Plan on at least two weeks of work - This is a general guideline, but it's a good starting point.

-Be prepared for the noise and mess - Updating your kitchen will create a lot of dust and noise. Be prepared for this before you start the remodel.

-Rent a storage unit - In order to make room for the new kitchen, you'll need to get rid of some of your old furniture and appliances. Renting a storage unit can help you keep everything safe and organized while you're renovating.

How much do your finances allow you to set aside?

A kitchen remodel is a big investment. How much you spend on your remodel will depend, in part, on how much money you have to spend.

-Set a budget and stick to it - This is advice that can be applied to any remodeling project. It's important to stay within your budget so you don't go into debt.

-Think about what's important to you - Do you want granite countertops or hardwood floors? These features will add to the cost of your remodel.

-Consider doing some of the work yourself - This can help reduce the overall cost of the project.

How long will it take to recoup the cost of the remodel?

Save 20% of your budget for accidents & repairs

Put aside 20% of your budget for unexpected accidents and repairs.

-Things go wrong. Things take longer than planned. Budget for the unexpected. Plan for the worst. Don't be surprised when things get more expensive.

Helpful breakdown from of remodeling costs:

  • 35% for cabinets
  • 20% for labor
  • 20% toward appliances
  • 10% for windows
  • 7% for other applications
  • 5% toward fixtures 
  • And 3% on fittings

By the end of these questions, you could find that the cost of remodeling is beyond your current finances. In this case, you should do what you can and focus on the essentials of the kitchen to make it as desirable as possible, such as repainted cabinets, or a new backsplash.

What are the Most Important Kitchen Features?

When you know the features buyers want the most, you know what your budget should prioritize.

You can ask your real estate agent about the most important features to focus on renovating. We’ve handled real estate for 40 years together and we can tell you that real estate agents make it their business to keep up on design and function trends. 

If you don’t want to do that, what we can tell you right now is that there are two things that matter to buyers:

  1. The design
  2. The function

Under design, layered lighting adds depth and atmosphere, but for more design preferences, we recommend contacting your real estate agent. 

Under function, does your kitchen have sufficient storage? Do you have durable counters? Do you have appliances that work like they should and are located in the layout in a way that makes sense? Finally, can the floor in the kitchen withstand heavy objects dropping on it without scratching or chipping, withstand water, and take spills or pet accidents without staining?Design and Function, Most Important Kitchen Features

Kitchen Updating Mistakes that Destroy ROI

When done right, homeowners might see a 54 - 72% ROI for remodeling to their kitchen, but many people selling their home end up confused when they’ve checked the list of most wanted features and buyers still don’t seem to like the kitchen. What happened? 

Features can’t be looked at separately. They should look good together, and going too cheap like with the mistakes below, can ruin that because the buyer will think you’re trying to trick them.

1) Bad flooring 

For example, new flooring on top of the pre-existing floor. Although the cheapest and easiest option, people notice the awkward height difference. Gaps, weird angles, all send signs to the buyer something is wrong here.

2) Expensive Countertops on Old Cabinets 

Broken cabinets that clearly don’t match with the countertops give a red flag that something is wrong, and maybe there is more wrong. So, keep looking for things that are wrong. 

3) Leaving the Appliances for last 

By then you may find yourself at the end of your budget and are forced to buy cheap appliances which are major turn-offs to buyers, making those expensive cabinets and flooring worthless. Kitchen Updating Mistakes that Destroy ROI


In the end, a remodeled kitchen has great potential to sell a home faster, but not make the seller more money, especially if you focus on the wrong features and go way over budget.

If you intend to go through with remodeling, it will help if you give yourself as much time and get as much help from your real estate agent and professional interior designers as possible.

What we tell our real estate clients

One of the first things we do when a homeowner decides they are ready to sell is what we call a WalkThru.

The sellers tell us what they are thinking about doing to get their home ready for sale. We then tell them what they should do, not do and give them alternative ideas. This ends up saving them hours and dollars.

They don't have to spend weeks and months getting their home ready for sale, and they don't have to spend money out of pocket, that they probably won't make back.

This is one of the most important, valuable steps we do with our clients.

If you are ready to start a conversation about doing a WalkThru visit