Which Home Renovations are Considered the Best when planning to sell your home?
By Mark Slade
The most challenging dilemma you may be facing when you begin to think about the possibility of selling your home is the thought of having to put more money into it, especially in a time when the national housing market is acting a bit temperamental.
During the time you own your home, many home renovations can offer a win-win situation, providing enjoyment to you, as the owner, and later making your home more marketable and/or worth more when you go to sell it. At the same time, other renovations, while providing you as the homeowner some benefit, can set you back thousands and leave you with a home that isn’t as marketable as you would have hoped or a home you want to price above what most buyers would be looking to pay for your general type of home.
So, here are some of my suggested Home Renovations, for the Maplewood Marketplace, keeping in mind that the present buyer in today’s market appears to be looking for so many things—granite counters, stainless appliances, renovated baths, finished basements, etc.
You have all heard of the expression, “judging a book by its cover,” well I suggest we start in the order in which most buyers would see your home and that is the exterior of your home and its landscaping. During the snow free months of the year, you want to make sure your lawn is well groomed and green and that if you have bushes and trees that add color at different times of the year. If you don’t have that green a thumb, then I suggest you invest in some planters (you can go to Home Goods or Marshall’s/TJ Maxx to find some on the cheap) that you plant seasonally appropriate flowers that you can find at local plant stands and markets. Unfortunately, we wish that the exterior of your home would be as inexpensive to keep inviting as is your landscaping; However, if you have peeling paint, I strongly recommend you scrape and paint, even if you only do touch ups, as you can understand that your are setting yourself up for disappointment as a buyer won’t necessarily have good feeling entering a home when the exterior appears to be lacking in maintenance.
From there, we need to go to the New Nerve Center of your home–The Kitchen. Going back about 15 years, since “From Ourhouse to Bauhaus” was published; the kitchen has overtaken the living room or family room when it comes to the most important room in the house.
Ideally, today’s buyers prefer new Kitchens with granite countertops, tile or wood floors, stainless and or modern appliances, quality feeling and highly functional cabinetry and an island or layout that allows a pass through or dining within the expanded kitchen/dining area.
However, when you don’t have that $20,000-$60,000 burning a hole in your pocket, then consider these Alternative suggestions:
Cabinets: consider having them painted with quality paint so that wear and tear is now a thing of the past and there is a fresh clean smell and look to the kitchen.
Appliances: Some models can be re-skinned like our (or our kids) iPods, cell phones and laptops. You can also consider going to S+D (scratch and dent) stores and, depending on how your appliances are placed in your kitchen, someone else’s dent might be hidden from sight.
Floors: check under that linoleum and see if you have hardwood under it for a relatively inexpensive scrape, sand and refinish job; or, you may simply consider a nice inexpensive tile or wood laminate flooring to put down.
Backsplashes: It’s amazing how sometimes a little effort can go a long way, but I recommend a re-facing of your backsplash, using tile or another material, as it can do wonders to freshen up the appearance of your kitchen without having to empty the bank account.
Lastly, if you don’t have an eat-in kitchen, think about the idea of installing a small counter with 2 bar stools to at least allow the on-the-go commuter a quick and easy area to down their java and bagel before heading to the train station.
Next we need to hit the Bathroom(s). What’s the first thing we do when we move into our new homes—change out the toilet seats. Well, the irony is that this investment costs about $15.00 and not only makes an older toilet appear much newer, but can surprisingly rid your bathroom of odors you might have gotten used to. At the same time, if you have a little bit of money, replacing the vanity ($150.00 to $750.00) and the toilet (once again $150.00 to $750.00), as well as the medicine cabinet, go a long way to updating the appearance of your bathroom. When you have the bit more in the bank account to “play” with, adding a nice tile job on the floors and around the tub/shower is like putting on that favorite outfit of yours that makes you feel like a million dollars. For the appearance of a more luxury-like home, consider adding skylights (anywhere you could easily add them as long as they don’t leak!) and a Jacuzzi tub, as they could provide a spa-like appearance. The best news is, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, that a mid-range bath remodeling (which costs an average of $10,499), will add $10,727 to your home’s value. But, if you don’t have the money, you should at least consider either re-grouting the tiles in your bathroom or even buying that grout paint that can cosmetically change the look of a dated bathroom and for those of you with chipped tubs, they also make porcelain touch up paint which I highly recommend.
For those of you that have a nice Bathroom but have a bedroom-to-bathroom ratio over 3:1, you might want to consider adding a powder room if one can be fit in and is close to nearby water and waste lines or, even better, a 2nd full bath that can be built right off the one you do have so you can make one for the exclusive use of a master bedroom. An extra bathroom will always add extra appeal to buyers with families. If you’re not sure you have the space, consult with a contractor. From my Otteau Valuation Group Advanced CMA training, a full bath can add as much as $11,000-$18,000 in perceived value of your home and a half bath $7,000-$11,000 in perceived value.
Lastly, there is that place, down under, that is perhaps one of the most interesting of choices for investing in your home. While your Basement has traditionally served as the storage warehouse and laundry center for most of us living in our homes, I find that today’s buyer has a bit of a different outlook. They appear to look toward the basement as having the basic laundry facilities, but also the bonus of either being a recreation or media room with a big flat screen TV (which you take with you), or a playroom for the kids or lastly, a home office. In all of these cases, carpeting that is clean and dry really does appear to add value in the mind of today’s buyers. If you renovated your basement several years ago, then I would recommend a fresh coat of paint, and either cleaning or replacing your carpets if they are dirty and stained. Don’t, and I repeat DON’T go overboard with renovating your basement as an appraisal won’t usually count this space as added value because the underground space isn’t normally counted as “livable space” unless you have a separate walk-out exit and plenty of windows.
More Renovations Not Necessarily Better
Before you begin any major projects, it’s important to assess your home’s value and the neighborhood it’s in. It is possible, through a lot of renovations and money, to boost your home up so high that you’re no longer in the market.
Please take my advice and don’t do any work that makes your house worth a $100,000 more than any other home in your neighborhood.
Be sure that your home renovations will add to the value of your home, and, if possible try to enjoy them for your own use while being aware that getting too extravagant will probably not bring you the return you’re seeking. If you aren’t sure, please feel free to contact me or another realtor to give you an idea of how much your home is worth and how your neighborhood is trending before you spend a dime.
Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty, Inc.
181 Maplewood Ave
Want to find out how much your home is worth? I am a trained Otteau Valuation Group Advanced CMA–Comparable Market Analysis—service provider who can give you an improved quality valuation of your home.