Renovating before you sell your home can mean more money, but it’s not easy. You need to stay on a tight budget, because unforeseen costs are just part of doing business. You also need to know which types of renovations will give you the highest return on your investment. No matter what your renovation budget, making informed decisions on where to spend that money will ensure you get the best bang for your buck.

Kitchen and Bath

While kitchens and bathrooms are the most costly rooms to renovate, they also have the highest returns on improvement investments, according to This Old House. Adding on another bedroom usually yields a good return as well, because it increases living space and square footage.

Conversely, more expensive renovations aren’t always the best bet. Many buyers actually look at a swimming pool as just more monthly upkeep. Instead, consider installing a great misting system and a ceiling fan in the patio as an alternative to spending a fortune on a swimming pool. Also a good thing to keep in mind when redesigning landscape: Low-maintenance rock and gravel designs are a huge selling point with a multitude of buyers.

Updating a kitchen doesn’t have to mean wildly expensive granite countertops and costly custom-built cabinets. Simply updating fixtures, repainting or refacing cabinets and investing money where it counts — in modern appliances — will help you see a ROI. Make sure to protect your investment with a comprehensive home warranty.

Foundation First

Experts warn against making a house look pretty before making sure it’s structurally sound. Plumbing, roofing, insulation, all these things will save prospective buyers a world of headache is they’re not regularly maintained properly. A smart buyer would much prefer a new roof and outdated but functioning bathroom than a pretty new bathroom and a roof that leaks. HGTV reports that most buyers plan to renovate their new home before they even close escrow. So save your money for the renovations that are basic, not fancy.

Look at the Market

Your home does not exist in a vacuum. You are part of a neighborhood and a community and that will play a part in how your home should be priced and how quickly it will move.

First you need to know what the average home in your neighborhood is like and compare yours. If all the homes in the neighborhood have three bedrooms and 1 or 2 baths, having a 3-bedroom, 3-bath house will fetch a higher price. If there are multiple similar homes in your area for sale, pricing yours just below the lowest priced house will almost guarantee you a quick sale.

If millennials with young families are moving into the neighborhood, it might be a good idea to go with a real estate agent who has a strong presence on social media. Do they have links on their website to their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts? You don’t need to know much about how these sites work to know that you need a real estate agent who does. Knowing what’s going on with real estate in your area will enable you to tailor your renovations and marketing approach to get your home sold fast for top dollar.

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