Selling your home? Tackle this bathroom update first

A new report says home buyers look for this bathroom upgrade the most.

double bathroom vanities
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kitchen and bathroom design can make or break a home sale. Granted, they’re not the official reason why buyers should walk away from a home sale. But that’s because the condition of these rooms can determine if your home even makes it on the list of houses that buyers want to consider purchasing.

Since buyers are finicky, sometimes, it’s hard to predict exactly what they want in a bathroom – for example, some want a deep soaking tub, while others want to completely remove the bathtub. So, how can sellers determine which changes are most likely to appeal to the majority of buyers? 

We discovered the No. 1 bathroom update to tackle before selling your home: double your sink/vanity space.

In a recent report by HomeLight, the overwhelming majority of real estate agents ranked a double sink vanity as the number one bathroom upgrade for 2021. We asked Annie Dreshfield at Homelight to explain the popularity of this particular update, and also offer some renovation tips for homeowners thinking about undertaking this project. 

Benefits of a double sink vanity

People don’t spend a lot of time at the sink vanity, so why is this particular feature so important to buyers?

It can improve/save relationships. If you live alone, or you have several bathrooms, you might not understand the appeal of a double sink vanity. But the separation of space can help to keep the peace in a household. “If one person is a neat freak, and the other person has less-than-ideal grooming habits, individual stations are ideal,” Dreshfield explains. And when both individuals are getting dressed at the same time, she says it can keep them from bumping into each other.

It can increase storage space. A double vanity isn’t likely to retain the existing footprint – unless you’ve got one of those long vanities with the sink on one side. But for most people, a double vanity is going to be much longer. And Dreshfield says this also adds more bathroom storage. “In older homes that don’t have built-in cabinetry or large closets, this is particularly important,” she says.

It can lead to more efficiency. When two are sharing a single vanity, all of their items are randomly stored underneath. However, not having to wade through someone else’s products (often knocking items over in the process) to find what you need can speed up your grooming process. And since you can open the cabinet and see at a glance what you have, it’s easy to discern when you’re running low on an item and need to reorder it.

Buyers think it’s cool. “A double sink vanity wasn’t really a selling factor until the 1980’s because homeowners viewed bathrooms as purely utilitarian,” Dreshfield explains. But as they’ve changed their perceptions of bathrooms from basic to luxurious, they’ve also decided that it’s worth splurging on bathroom components to make them more attractive and comfortable. “A report by the National Association of Home Builders revealed that 71 percent of homebuyers consider a double sink vanity to be both essential and desirable.”

What you need to know about a double sink vanity update

Before you embark on this bathroom remodel, these are some factors to consider:

Room size

Scale is important, so be sure to consider how the double sink vanity will look in your bathroom. “If the vanity is going to take up more than a third of the space, your bathroom will look cramped,” Dreshfield says. And regardless of how much you may like a particular style, she warns against trying to force it to fit if you just don’t have enough space. Otherwise, your bathroom update could actually turn buyers off.

Counter width

“A standard double sink can run anywhere from 60 to 72 inches (some are even as long as 84 inches), and you will need five to six feet of wall space to accommodate the vanity,” Dreshfield says. You can also get a smaller, 48-inch double sink. “While they save space, you won’t get the same level of efficiency and style with these smaller versions.”

ROI

Your return on investment may depend on what you’ll need to do to install a double sink vanity. “If you’re just swapping out an existing vanity – in the same space – this is a great project for upgrading your bathroom,” Dreshfield says. But if it’s going to require extensive work (and money) – like knocking out walls – she recommends putting your money into another project that could yield a better return on your investment.

Agent input

Even though the majority of realtors in the HomeLight report recommended a dual sink vanity as the top bathroom update, keep in mind that preferences vary by region. For example, what’s popular in the Northeast region may not be provide the same value add in the Pacific region. “I recommend consulting your agent to see if local buyers expect this feature in homes at your price point,” Dreshfield says.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams

Terri Williams is a journalist with real estate, home improvement, and product review bylines at Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, MSN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, and Apartment Therapy. She also covers business topics, with bylines at USA Today, The Economist, US New & World Report, Verizon, and several other brands that you’ve probably heard of. Follow her adventures on Twitter.