“It’s one of the least looked at items on the exterior of a house along with doors and door framing,” says Gwen Johnson, a top Iowa Realtor® and founder of the The Johnson Team. “It’s the least looked at by sellers, but it’s the most looked at thing from the buyer’s standpoint. It’s really essential to getting the most amount of money for your home.”

The garage door’s importance may seem surprising at first glance until one considers its prominence on the home’s facade and that it’s one of the first things prospective buyers and their agents see when they get out of the car and walk up your driveway. Rust, peeling paint, dents, a lack of weatherstripping or just overall unsightliness can leave people with the impression that the home wasn’t loved and wondering what else is wrong.

“That first impression is really hard to change,” says Johnson.

We’ll now go through more about why the garage door is such a pivotal aspect of a house and what you can do with yours to help impress buyers.

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How much does my garage door impact curb appeal and home value?

Upgrading your garage door is one of the very best investments you can make to your house before selling time and it’s easier than you think. In working with clients over the years, Johnson has seen many sellers get triple their investment from replacing an old garage door.

Generally, if you’ve been putting in the recommended 1% of your home’s value back into maintenance tasks every year, you may have already gotten around to getting a new garage door. However, if this isn’t the case, many of the items on your pre-sale to-do list will include things that are very visible, and given how much square footage a garage tends to take up on a home’s exterior, it would be a mistake to skip it.

Along with devoting resources to other aspects of curb appeal like landscaping and the front door, your investment in a garage door upgrade or replacement is bound to pay off.

In 2018, Clopay, the largest residential garage door manufacturer in North America, worked with an independent research firm on a study to “gauge Realtor® perceptions” about how a garage door’s appearance influenced the listing price they assigned to homes. The finding? If things look bad on the outside they assume the worst about the inside and immediately move on to the next showing.

70% of the real estate agents in the study agreed that a new garage door helps sell a home faster and 80% think a new door improves a home’s value.

What options do I have to upgrade my garage door so it helps sell my house?

How you go about addressing your less than appealing garage door will depend in part on what’s wrong with it. Let’s explore some common options to get your garage door up to snuff and when to apply them.

Minor improvements: According to Thomas Scharpf, CEO of Schartec, a German garage door manufacturer and distributor, if the door is overall in good shape but needs a gentle facelift, or if the opening mechanism jerks, is sluggish or stops in the middle of the track, there are some inexpensive DIY steps to get it flowing again:

  • Painting the exterior – a simple coat of paint may be all you need. Just be sure the color you choose matches your home’s exterior
  • Lubricating the movable components
  • Replacing the garage door springs with a cost estimate of about $80 to $150
  • Replacing the rollers for about $60
  • Installing an electric garage door opener can be done DIY for about $120

Use a restoration kit: If your garage door needs a bit more TLC than painting will provide but not enough to justify a full replacement, a restoration kit to improve its finish will go a long way. The cost of kits varies widely but some run under $100 and can offer a nice glossy look with minimal effort.

For a more advanced option, GarageSkins offer magnetic wood-styled panels that can be simply attached to existing metal garage doors providing a high-end look. Pricing runs $749 for a single door and $1,499 for a double door. However, GarageSkins’ products only work with metal doors that are fully operational with very minimal dents or damage.

Replace your garage door: If a little TLC isn’t enough, replacing your garage door may be the best option. If your garage door has major damage, dents, is non-functional, ugly or has a combination of issues, getting a brand new one will go a long way in getting your home sold for top dollar.

A person taking notes about updating a garage door.
Source: (Kaleidico / Unsplash)

How much will it cost to replace my garage door?

Depending on how fancy a garage door you want, the cost of a full replacement will vary. A basic white metal, non-insulated door can cost under $600 not including installation, while a high-end custom redwood garage door with glass windows can cost $4,118 including installation. According to HomeAdvisor, the national average of a new garage door plus installation is $1,153 with a range between $754 and $2,400.

What return on investment (ROI) will a new garage door have?

You may be wondering if upgrading your garage door is ultimately worth it prior to selling. Although many possible home improvement projects may be on your mind, if your garage door is ugly, damaged or broken, the jury has decided: upgrading or replacing it will pay dividends.

Compared to other remodeling projects that might be on your list, garage door replacement will yield a high ROI. According to the Clopay study, a luxury $3,470 garage door replacement will yield about $3,411 at resale, which is a 98.3% return on investment. However, in some markets the ROI could even be over 100%, which is what Johnson has observed in her practice.

The return isn’t guaranteed to be that high. For example, according to a Cost vs. Value report, the average ROI is closer to 85%. Still, if you consider the higher price tag of a kitchen remodel that only yields a 72.2% ROI, a garage door replacement is a sensible improvement to choose.

Another thing to note is that if you’ll still be living in the house for a while before you sell, the higher insulation and R-value (ability to slow transmission of heat) provided by a new garage door will help save on heating and cooling bills, adding to your ROI. Additionally, it will also provide greater security for your home and just look better.

I recommend getting a garage door sales team to come out and give some ideas about what they could do. Sometimes, it’s not necessarily that you have to replace the garage door as much as you have to replace one panel. And maybe you could add windows to that one panel.

Here are some more expert tips about upgrading your garage door

Consider your garage door options: Even though a garage door replacement is not complicated and relatively inexpensive, there are still a lot of options to consider. Style, color, material and tech options all are important aspects of the finished product, which you want looking the best.

“I recommend getting a garage door sales team to come out and give some ideas about what they could do,” says Johnson. “Sometimes, it’s not necessarily that you have to replace the garage door as much as you have to replace one panel. And maybe you could add windows to that one panel.”

The biggest garage door mistake: One of the biggest mistakes Johson says she’s seen sellers make regarding their garage door is to choose a trendy design that doesn’t match the rest of the house. Although an ultra-modern garage door might look impressive, it might clash when installed on an old farmhouse, for example. So making sure that the style and colors are in harmony with the rest of the house is crucial.

Windows or no windows: Adding windows can be a major style bonus, but Johnson stressed it’s important to also consult with your agent about trends in the area, because if there are concerns about crime where you live, windows could be a concern for some buyers.

Doing it yourself: If you’re handy, installing a new garage door yourself is possible, however Scharpf advises to opt for professional installation as mistakes could be costly or create a safety hazard. In addition, he said to consider sun exposure.

Garage door color: If a garage is positioned in a way that it’s exposed to blazing sun much of the day, a dark color isn’t recommended as it will decrease energy efficiency and the color may fade.

Bottom line: A garage door update can open doors to a better home sale

If you’re preparing for a home sale and seeking an easy, simple way to maximize your return and sell fast, upgrading or replacing your garage door is the way to go. This is true especially if your current one is old, unsightly or no longer gets the job done.

Experts advise to speak with both garage door specialists and your agent to determine the best type of door and style to entice buyers through the threshold. While buying a brand new one might give the curb appeal the highest boost, keep in mind that supply chain bottlenecks might slow down the process. Opting for a fresh coat of paint, skins, replacing a damaged panel or simple DIY repairs to your existing garage door will also help improve your overall house’s exterior.

Remember that partnering with a top agent is vital to getting an experienced set of eyes to evaluate your curb appeal and choose the right way to improve your garage. They will have the latest information about the local real estate market and what buyers are looking for in terms of garage doors and anything else that could help the sale. Good agents also have connections with local contractors they trust to repair or replace everything from garage doors to that window that hasn’t opened in five years.

Using HomeLight’s Agent Match tool to select a great agent is a simple and straightforward way to get you on the path to a fast sale that earns the highest yield.

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