One of the most common questions I get from people who are considering selling their home is “What renovations should I do to raise my home’s value?” Of course, this is a bit of a loaded question, because the answer is to update EVERYTHING! Generally though this isn’t realistic or necessary. Factors that need to be taken into account are:
1. Your budget
2. How much time and emotional energy you are willing to put into getting your home ready
3. What the standard is for the neighborhood
4. What the payoff (Return on Investment - ROI) actually will be.
My suggestions in this article will be the “budget” versions of various updates that will give you the most bang-for-your-buck and have proven time and again to get the highest ROI. If your home is in a luxury neighborhood, these suggestions may need to be amped up to keep up with the surrounding houses. Of course, for customized suggestions give me a call and we can discuss your personal scenario.
My Top 7 Money Makers:
Paint, Paint, Paint!
There simply is no better Return on Investment than paint! It’s the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to completely change and update the style of a home. Paint makes everything feel fresh and clean. It often hides imperfections and makes the whole home more pleasing to the eye in photographs and in person.
Budget on this project has a large range - anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000+. If you are willing to do the work yourself you can save tons of cash, but it will likely take you way longer than having a pro do the job. If you don’t need to paint every room and the exterior you could also save some major moola.
For the home’s exterior, focus on the paint being fresh. If it was painted in the last 10 years you may not need to repaint unless the color is particularly dark or drab. Painting the front door can go a long way in making a home more welcoming!
For the interior, if you are low on time or money, focus on the entry and main living areas. These are the areas that typically make the most impact in photos and where the home buyer believes is the most expensive to correct. First impressions mean everything!
Current styles lean toward light, bright, and neutral. Palettes can be anything from all white, to a mix of grays, or even a mix of greiges (warmer grays). My favorite place to find great color suggestions is on Pinterest, or just ask me and I’d be happy to help!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard home buyers complain that the flooring is outdated, isn’t consistent throughout the home, or is downright dirty. There are so many options these days to make your house’s flooring better that there really isn’t an excuse to not do at least a little something to improve the situation.
Option number 1 for those of you who either have a low budget or the flooring is already updated: Get the floors and carpets cleaned! I just had an entire home steam cleaned for under $300 (ok, the home wasn’t huge, but still!). And what a difference it made! I wouldn’t say the carpets looked brand new because they were quite worn, but I no longer felt gross being in the house and the carpets no longer stole my attention over the other features in the home. And if you didn’t already know this, one of your goals as a home seller trying to make the most money is to NOT have your potential buyers feel gross. Moral of the story: cleaning goes a long way.
If you do have more of a budget then replacing older flooring throughout the home or in certain areas is recommended. I mentioned earlier that home buyers love when flooring is consistent throughout a home. I’ve been in homes where literally every room has different flooring. This makes the home feel smaller and gives the home buyer the feeling that they have lots of work to do right when they move in. The trend these days is to have some sort of wood-look flooring throughout the main areas of the home, tile or the wood-look continued in the kitchen, and then carpets in the bedroom. This is a winning combo every time.
There are so many ways to accomplish this look that it doesn’t have to break the bank and will most certainly help you achieve a higher sales price and quicker sale.
Light fixtures and ceiling fans are an easy way to give your house a consistent theme and updated look. There are tons of inexpensive options at the big box stores (ranging from $25-$300 a piece) that can really sell that your house is ready-to-go. If you are handy this is a project you can do on your own in a couple weekends. If not, hiring a handyman or electrician will raise the project’s budget, but you’ll still find a great ROI at the end of the day.
If you have a room with no overhead lighting it’s a substantial value-add to add some! Canned lighting is great in living rooms and kitchens; chandeliers or statement lighting in dining rooms; and ceiling fans with lights in bedrooms.
Kitchens and bathrooms are the two spots that home buyers know they could end up spending bookoo-bucks to have them redone. My suggestion is to NOT gut these spaces if it can be helped, and instead make smart choices to update them and make them as appealing as possible without breaking the bank.
In the bathrooms this means changing out the light fixtures, faucets, and mirrors for something that coordinates and is updated. There are tons of choices online and in big box stores.
If budget and time allows, repaint the rooms and fix up the vanity. Fixing up the vanity could be as simple as painting it. But sometimes it means changing the counters and sink or buying a brand new unit.
Since I generally don’t recommend changing out the tub or shower because it’s the most expensive bathroom endeavor, please make sure they are clean. If needed, recaulk the tub/shower enclosure. Scrub the grout. Make it shine as best as you possibly can.
To reduce costs (and time!) in a kitchen renovation we hopefully want to save the cabinets and keep the same layout. Unless the cabinets are completely falling apart this should be a reasonable expectation.
The key items home buyers DON’T want are yellow oak cabinets, mismatched appliances, and tile or laminate counters. If you only could do one thing, get rid of the yellow oak by painting out the cabinets. The safest bet is to go white, but if you have the talent you could try some of the other color trends like grays, blues and greens.
Regarding appliances, these will be checked during a home inspection, so first and foremost we want them operational and safe. Home buyers also want them pretty. Stainless steel is still the number 1 request. However, if your kitchen has all white or all black appliances, that’s fine too. Matching is almost more important than having stainless steel. If you have multiple colors in your kitchen you are going to have to make some decisions. Looking for an inexpensive method of replacement? Consider shopping online for used stoves and refrigerators. There’s lots of great options at a fraction of the price!
The icing on the cake in the kitchen are the counters. Most home buyers want hard surface counters like quartz or granite. These, of course, are the most expensive options out there. Usually there are warehouse discounters that may have a limited selection but can cost thousands less for a great look. If it isn’t in the budget to get new counters consider painting laminate counters and getting the grout professionally cleaned for those tile counters.
Front Yard Curb Appeal
I said it before, and I’ll say it again - first impressions are EVERYTHING! Besides opening the front door, driving into the driveway is the second most important moment of a property showing. Clean, fresh and welcoming is the vibe you are going for. Generally you can spend a little and get quite a big transformation in this area.
Start with cleaning up the front yard and making everything presentable. To begin, wash the siding (unless you painted it). Clean the exterior of the windows - this will actually help curb appeal and indoor natural lighting. Work on making the grass green. Maybe that just means extra water and fertilizer, or maybe it means new seed or sod. Either way, get it green! Clear out any dead or dying plants. In fact, if you have a jumble of landscaping, it may be best to get rid of several plants to freshen things up.
Once you have the front yard cleaned you can start adding in elements to make it more welcoming. I mentioned it earlier, but painting the front door is a great way to add a pop of color and/or freshen up the whole curb appeal. Then add a couple potted plants with color and a new welcome mat. Voila! Brand new entry!
The last couple items on the front yard list include putting out fresh bark, new house numbers, and new exterior lighting. Nothing’s better than freshly barked flower beds! Such an inexpensive project as well. If your house numbers are dated, go get some new, larger ones from any big box store. And lastly, if your exterior lights are dated and dingy, getting some new lanterns can really up the curb appeal points.
Our seventh and final area to remodel is your backyard. Like the front yard, this is likely one of the lower budget projects on the list. The main goal is to help home buyers visualize themselves using the space. If it’s a bramble pile or a completely blank slate it’s a lot less enticing than a space that has well designated areas.
So what areas should we designate? The main zones you’ll want to create are spaces for dining, lounging, BBQing and playing. If you already have a patio or deck, this process is simply about strategically placing furniture. A smaller deck/patio could have the dining set and BBQ on it. Then in the yard you can add lounge furniture or a firepit. A larger deck/patio could have dining, lounge, and BBQ. A play space could be an existing swimming pool or a grassy area. If you don’t have play equipment just set up a yard game like Cornhole.
If you just have a big square yard with grass, it would be a great payoff to add a patio of sorts. Pebble or paver patios that you can make yourself are great options to keep the budget in line.
People do love shade, so if you don’t have a shade structure anywhere in the yard it will pay off to add some sort of pergola or patio cover.
Let’s Get Started!
It may seem like a HUGE project to get your home ready for sale. Remember that the items above are suggested to get the optimum price for your home. This doesn’t mean all of these updates and remodels are required to have a presentable and saleable home. Speak with your real estate agent to develop a specific list for your house. It’s never too early to plan and any reputable real estate agent (myself included!) would be happy to give you suggestions even if it’s months before you’re planning to move. Give me a call anytime.