When I was younger, I found “Antiques Roadshow” the most entertaining thing on PBS. That show made it seem like everybody had a Mickey Mantle rookie card or 1800s Winchester sitting in their attic.
For most of us that’s not reality, but the show taught me you never know what sort of hidden treasure might be packed away in your house. What if I told you your house could also be part of the treasure?
Both baseball cards and homes are beholden to market value assessments, but unlike a baseball card that just sits there, you can nudge the needle on the value of your home by making improvements.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may do a different style of remodel if you’re planning on living in the house for a while as compared to someone who’s getting ready to sell. If you plan on sticking around, you can decorate to your tastes. On the other hand, if you’re getting ready to move, you want to deliver what prospective buyers are looking for.
To supplement our video on value-adding home renovations, we talked to Jessica Romero and Mike Brocker-Querio. As directors of staff appraisal operations at Title Source, they work with appraisers every day and know from experience what affects your property value.
Before You Get Started
You know you want a change, but you may not know where to start. What’s the best strategy?
Drop in on some open houses for comparable homes in your area. Has the competition put in a new floor or gone with all stainless steel appliances? In addition to determining where you might improve, you can also take note of the advantages you have over the competition. That’ll come into play later if you plan to sell.
If you know you’ll need to get some extra money to finance your projects, a personal loan from Rocket Loans® could make those upgrades easier.
Best Improvements That Add Value
Whether you’re looking to remodel just for you or for the general public, there are a few jobs that are big-ticket.
Romero said buyers are often looking at the relative cost of a particular renovation, and it can have a big impression on them. And if you aren’t selling, you can get a lot of use out of making your bathroom the sanctuary you deserve. A remodeled kitchen can also give you the perfect place to cook up your culinary delights.
Besides adding that wow-factor, Romero said, “Everyone knows that updating a kitchen or bath typically costs a good amount of money and they don’t want to get involved with that.”
The more improvements you’ve made, the less a buyer will have to invest in order to maintain and update the house.
One thing you should know going in is that quality is king. With that in mind, Brocker-Querio said people should choose their materials carefully. Take your countertops, for example. “Porcelain costs a little bit more, but it’s a ton more durable than what ceramic is,” he said.
Quality doesn’t just apply to those things that are immediately apparent. The details matter. Are your cabinets all wood or is there particleboard or plywood on the inside?
While quality is certainly huge, you want to be careful not to outspend your neighborhood. Because of the way property values work, your neighbor has to make the same renovation in their house and then sell their house for a higher price before you realize an increase in value on your home. In other words, there’s no monetary advantage to being the first to have the moat and drawbridge in front of your house. On the other hand, if you’re going to be there for a while and you like it, go for it!
The Trend Is Not Your Friend
Trends are constantly coming and going. Therefore, the homes that hold their value best are more classic in their design style. “If you’re going to do a backsplash in your kitchen,” said Brocker-Querio, “a classic subway tile would be a good thing to do, versus a sparkly glass that’s really colorful, because that subway tile translates across all eras.”
If you want your house to be an expression of you, but you’re unsure whether you’ll be moving soon, there are less permanent things you can do. Give things a pop of color with paint or change your window coverings.
While we’re talking about trends, you also don’t want anything that tells people exactly when you last remodeled or did anything in your house. My grandma has a fuzzy pink toilet seat cover that probably has to go. The same is true if you have a green tub and 70s floral wallpaper. And lose the bathroom carpet.
This won’t necessarily add to your home value, but maintenance can definitely make your home more livable and help sell the property.
I’m about to break the fourth wall and say something really embarrassing about myself. I’ve been in an electric wheelchair since kindergarten, but that doesn’t necessarily make me good at driving it. If my parents ever sell our house, it’s going to need some new paint and some drywall and trim work. Although you may not have a joystick menace like myself wreaking havoc in your interior, doing the little things to maintain the house can make a big difference in the eyes of a buyer.
I mentioned earlier that the cost of potential renovations makes a big difference to the people who walk through your house. There are as many big-ticket maintenance items as there are expensive improvements. They won’t physically add to the value of your home, but they will help sell your home.
As an example, if you and a competing house have substantially similar floor plans and improvements, but you have a new roof, that’s an advantage. Buyers don’t want to have to move in and sink money into a roof or HVAC system right away.
Also, power wash your deck or patio. Doing so removes the buildup of dirt and grime. You might find that the surface underneath looks brand-new after a little TLC.
The Little Touches
Not everyone is made of money. What can you do that’s not going to cost a ton of dough?
Great curb appeal is key to that all-important first impression, so make old things seem new again. Try painting the front door in a contrasting color to make it pop a little bit.
A few landscaping updates, even just new potted or hanging plants that you can take with you, can really enhance the curb appeal. You should also take a look at replacing old shutters and trim.
Moving to the interior, putting new handles and knobs on drawers and cabinets is a nice touch. Brand-new, clean doorknobs are also a nice touch.
In the bathroom, you can get new faucet hardware relatively cheaply and it’s an easy update. Just make sure it all matches; buyers don’t want a chrome faucet, a satin nickel shower head and a brass light fixture.
You can also replace outdated or damaged blinds and drapes on your windows. If they’re in good shape and neutral colors, just give them a wash and they’ll look new. You want anyone to be able to see themselves inhabiting the space.
Another great idea is to add some lighting. Buyers love a bright space, and lighting can really set the tone. Put in something with a dimmer switch or maybe even some fancy Philips Hue lighting that allows you to control the mood.
Whether you’re preparing the house for an appraisal or a showing, first impressions are everything. This doesn’t mean you should go insane trying to show your house in a way Martha Stewart might (we wish we had that talent), but it does mean you should de-clutter your space and run the vacuum. Clean the carpets if it hasn’t been done in a while.
Very few homes offer everything a buyer might want right out of the box. Take note of your home’s unique characteristics: Does it have a big backyard? Lots of patio space? How is the square footage? Is there a multi-car garage attached? Any features your home has can be differentiators for the right buyer. You and your real estate agent should play these advantages up when showing your house.
If you’re looking for ways to finance your home improvement projects, a personal loan from Rocket Loans could make those upgrades easier.
Do you have any tips for improving property value? Let us know in the comments.
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