Before deciding where to spend home improvement dollars, consider talking to real estate professionals who are familiar with your area and have years of experience. They spend their days talking to potential buyers and know what features are likely to result in a “thumbs-up” on a house.
Good guideline: Avoid trends that will appear outdated in a couple of years. By doing some fairly simple projects, you open your home to a broader market and hopefully, a quicker sell at the price you want.
Here are ten projects that generally add the biggest per-dollar punch to your home’s value and salability:
- Paint –New paint adds a fresh smell and a well-maintained appearance. On the other hand, a home that needs to be painted looks neglected.
- Landscaping –Well-trimmed bushes and a manicured lawn are signs a home has been maintained. These tasks may involve more sweat equity than financial investment. While landscaping, take a look at your mailbox. If it’s rusty and wobbly, replace it. A nice yard adds to the curb appeal that may get drive-by home shoppers out of their cars and through the front door for a better look.
- Light fixtures –They don’t have to be expensive. But some old light fixtures make rooms look dated.
- Window coverings –Do they let in the light? You don’t need costly drapes, but worn, outdated, or heavy window coverings are a definite negative. Natural light appeals to most home buyers.
- Floors –Attractive flooring adds a lift and can be fairly inexpensive. If carpet is a neutral color and in good condition, it may only need professional cleaning. If not, replace it, stick to mid-grade, neutral tones that will go with all color schemes. Nice-looking hardwood floors can be a major drawing card. If yours appear worn, it would be a smart use of your home improvement dollars to have them refurbished.
- Central air conditioning –Unless your home is in a cool part of the country, this is an important feature and basic comfort that many buyers expect.
- Updated kitchen –The kitchen is generally a major selling point, but it is expensive to totally redo it. The national average cost of a completely remodeled kitchen is between $20,000 and $30,000. It probably will not pay to do this, although an outdated kitchen can lower the market value of a home. One study suggests the return on a complete kitchen job is about 75 percent. That’s not bad if you’re doing the work for your own benefit and will enjoy it for a few years. But for resale purposes, an alternative is do spot remodeling jobs that can be accomplished for less money. For example, consider a new sink, countertops, cabinet fronts, lighting, a paint job, and even drawer and cabinet pulls can add up to a nice kitchen facelift.
- Bathroom –You can also do spot remodeling jobs on the bathroom with new fixtures, a new vanity and an interesting mirror. If the tub is in bad shape, recaulk and check into getting it resurfaced.
- Energy features –If your home is older, energy loss may be a concern for would-be buyers. In that case, improved insulation for windows, doors, and storm doors can be smart upgrades.
- Room addition –An added room may increase the value of your home, but may not pay for itself. Before building an extra bathroom or adding a family room, talk to a real estate professional to see what is selling in your neighborhood. If your home has two bathrooms, for example, but recent sales have been mostly three bathroom homes, it might be a worthwhile project. Otherwise, save your money.
These are just some considerations when improving your home for resale purposes. Getting top dollar for your home generally requires some work and cash. But with a little planning and some advice from real estate professionals, you can help make sure the dollars spent on improvements will come back in the sales price.
First Impressions Matter
For the best chance of selling your home at the best price, presentation is key:
Basic maintenance – Home value doesn’t increase when you do small repair projects, such as replacing torn screens. But leaving them in place can signal neglect.
Furniture – Before showing the home, move furniture away from the doorways in each room. This gives a more open, larger appearance. Stand in doorways and evaluate the space of the rooms. You may be able to make them look bigger by rearranging furniture.
Clutter – The home should look lived-in but not crowded. Clear away knick-knacks and put surplus furniture in storage. Empty out crammed closets.
Windows – Open curtains so sunshine comes through clean windows, providing a light, airy feeling.
Flowers – Plant bright flowers near the front entrance and the back fence line, especially if they are visible through the home’s windows.
Smell – Air the home out and avoid strong pet odors, fried foods, etc. Ask your real estate pro the best way to create an inviting aroma.