Renovations Worth the Money — and Those That Aren’t

Author: Alecia Pirulis


If you are preparing to sell your house and want to add value to your home without spending a lot of money, there are a few small projects that will provide plenty of bang for your buck – and some renovations you should avoid. Here’s a simple cheat sheet to impress those potential buyers and get top dollar for your home:

Remodeling projects you should consider:

* Bathroom and kitchen updates – these are huge and are probably the best place to spend your renovation dollars. It doesn’t have to be a massive project, however – simply refacing your existing kitchen cabinets will give your kitchen a whole new, fresh look. New hardware (door handles, drawer pulls, towel bars in the bathroom) are also a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to update these important spaces without a huge investment.

* Add curb appeal – It’s true that first impressions are lasting impressions, so make your house stand out by adding a few colorful plants, trees, and bushes to your landscape. Paint the front door and add a new mailbox, and add some decorative touches (an outdoor planter, statues, or new lighting).

* Add a deck – It isn’t an expensive undertaking, and it will add huge value to your home. If you already have a deck, stain it or give it a fresh coat of paint, add some decorative planters and colorful flowers, and add some furniture – a small bistro table and two chairs, for example, will bring to mind quiet mornings with coffee al fresco. Get rid of any stray odds and ends — the discarded pots, old gardening tools, the kids’ toys – these will make the space feel small and cluttered.

* Finish the basement – adding a room in the basement or in the attic will increase your home’s living space and its value.

* Removing wallpaper and repainting – Everyone has different tastes, and if you love that huge-flower-print wallpaper in the dining room, great – but if you are trying to sell your house, the buyers may only see a big project looming in their future. The same is true for wild paint colors. Removing wallpaper and painting your home a fresh, neutral color will be much more attractive to potential buyers.

Remodeling projects to avoid:

* Adding a swimming pool. This is an expensive undertaking and surprisingly, it may actually deter some buyers. Potential buyers could be turned off by a swimming pool – especially if they have young children. They may see the pool as a hazard. Pools are also a lot of work, and many buyers may not be willing to take that on.

* Over-the-top landscaping. If you go overboard on the plants and end up with flower beds and gardens galore, potential buyers may find it overwhelming – the thought of maintaining such extensive landscaping. Keep it beautiful and simple – a little goes a long way.

* Carpeting and new flooring. Unless it is unsightly, leave the carpeting as-is – the buyers will probably want to choose their own colors and textures anyway. Same goes for the kitchen – you may put down fresh linoleum, but if the buyers would rather have wood or tile, they will just end up replacing the floors anyway, and that is money spent that could still be in your pocket.

* Adding too much. Your home’s resale value depends a lot on your neighborhood – if, for example, you are in an area filled with small ranch homes and you decide to add a second story, that extra space may appeal to buyers, sure — but they probably won’t be willing to pay much more for it. If the price of your home is way above the average for your neighborhood, you may have trouble getting your money back.

* Routine maintenance is expected – not an upgrade. Unless the septic system is failing, the water heater is broken, or the roof is seriously outdated, replacing these items might not give you the return you’re expecting. Buyers expect these basic systems to be functional – they won’t be impressed by “hidden” upgrades when looking at your home, so don’t replace these items just to increase your home value. That being said, if these systems are outdated or not working, you’ll need to replace them – just consider it routine home maintenance and not something that will significantly increase your asking price.