Adding value to your house doesn’t require taking on a second mortgage to pay for improvements. Real estate experts say with a keen eye and a disimpassioned view of where your house can be updated, relatively small fixes can reap big rewards and push your home’s value up. A recent survey – Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report (link) – states, in fact, that expensive full-blown remodels may not always bring the biggest return on investment (ROI). Granted, if your space is in serious disrepair or still sports an 80’s look that’s not intentionally retro, a complete overhaul may be necessary and worthwhile. Otherwise, taking on small projects which increase your property’s visual appeal (crucial when buyers have only a small window during a showing to decide if they like your space or not) will likely get you the most solid return on money spent. Here’s where research says to focus your efforts:
Kitchens & Bathrooms
Kitchens are perennially the heart of the home, so it makes sense that even minor remodeling done right here can make a huge impact on the value of your property. A recent Consumer Reports’ survey of millennials (link below) found that a “modern/updated kitchen” was the ideal home feature for one-third of respondents. A kitchen or bathroom update that simply renders the space brighter, more open, clean, functional, and modern will play into what buyers crave.
Knocking down pass-throughs, expanding doorways, or creating breakfast nooks, according to This Old House (link below), can be done relatively inexpensively and yield significant dividends. Open floor plans reign supreme, and improvements that provide an increased sense of space and better flow will catch buyers’ attention.
Significant improvements and upticks in value can also be gained by upgrading only certain key elements. A Zillow piece (Best Home Improvement Investments) (link), which compiles national sales data from their listings service, shows that upgrading key items helped homes sell faster, and for more money. Per the article, the following small-scale upgrades resulted in higher sales prices: upgrading backsplashes and showers with subway tiles; changing cabinet faces to Shaker style (its clean lines are unobtrusive and appeal to both the modern and traditional aesthetic); and replacing kitchen sinks (homes with farmhouse sinks were reported to sell about 8% above expected value).
According to the Remodeling magazine report, “curb appeal” projects¬—changes to doors, windows, siding, and landscaping—by and large generated higher ROIs than work done inside the home. As a general rule, the simpler the job, the cheaper it is and the more likely it will have a high ROI. The idea is to make the outside so inviting they want to see more inside. Be sure to spruce up the following when getting ready to sell:
Front Entrance. Does your front door appear to be a portal into the 1970s? Is your doorbell working? Are buyers standing in the rain while their agent fumbles to find the house key? Be mindful of what your entrance might be saying about your interior. Make your entrance appealing (make sure your door matches your house’s architecture) and welcoming (installing a portico or awning might help).
Landscaping and Plants. No green thumb needed. Just make sure everything is neat and tidy. Grass needs to be mown, beds freshly laid with mulch. Do trees obscure your house? Prune branches back. Buy some flowers or greenery for pots on the doorstep. Plants are welcoming and cheerful.
Regular maintenance. You don’t want buyers tallying up “to-do” lists before even stepping inside. Patch any peeling paint. Repair cracked windows. And don’t forget to sweep the steps.
General Lightening, Brightening, and Repositioning
A simple lick of paint can solve many property ails. How about just cleaning and decluttering your space? Below some basics that can add nearly instant value with minimal time and financial burden.
Paint. Fresh paint is perhaps the easiest, most inexpensive way to give your home a facelift. Keep it neutral to appeal to the largest contingent and be perceived by buyers as a clean, blank slate. Greys and whites are good bets.
Lighting. Light fixtures can instantly date a space. Consider pendants and recessed can lights in the kitchen or living areas to update the look. The right lighting can transform a dreary space into a welcoming one.
Open and Airy. Taking a room back to basics by decluttering can help show off its millwork, architectural features, and its sheer volume. Purge, clean, and find the right furniture to fit each room, in the right arrangement.
Changing Spaces. Are buyers in your area young families looking for a nursery rather than an extra den? How about converting your two bedroom into a three bedroom by repurposing an office space? When you can’t add a room, you oftentimes can reinvent one. A real estate agent knowledgeable of the market can recommend the right sleights of hand to reposition your home to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.
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