Whether you are actively preparing to put your property on the market or just want to update your space for yourself but with an eye towards future resale, several key improvements will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Even reworking a space on a shoestring budget can reap significant rewards if done correctly. Recent analysis, notably Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, 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 easily identified as being last decorated in the 80’s, a complete overhaul may be necessary and worthwhile. Barring that, switching out key elements and taking on relatively 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. In general, though, the hotter the market, the further your investment will go.
We hope you enjoy our recommendations, but remember your realtor can give you a personalized, professional opinion of what is going to add the most value in your specific space.
Kitchens & Bathrooms
Kitchens are the heart of the home, so it makes sense that remodeling done here will make a huge impact on the value of your property. But it has to be done deftly to ensure money sunk in will be money returned, if not grown. Alterations to increase their size and openness will likely pay dividends, blurring the lines between food prep areas and living rooms – since kitchens are more than ever recognized as places to gather and socialize as much as to make a meal.
Data from the Remodeling magazine Cost vs. Value Report shows that minor kitchen renovations will likely have a bigger ROI than complete, high-end overhauls, however, with an 81% versus 59% return, respectively. The same can hold true for redoing bathrooms, too. The reason points to taste: one man’s love for French provincial, splashed over every surface, may not resonate with the majority of buyers. Everyone can agree on the appeal of new appliances and fixtures, though. The rub? A major kitchen or bathroom remodel that renders the space brighter, more open, clean, functional and modern will play into what buyers crave, but significant improvements and upticks in value can also be gained by upgrading only certain key elements. For example, a New York Times article explains how a condo owner in New York selectively replaced buckling hardwood floors and chipped granite countertops in her kitchen for a massive ROI, and how another family in the city hired a designer to craft smart storage solutions that also became a design detail in their living room for similarly hefty returns.
A Zillow piece (Best Home Improvement Investments) 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, consider upgrading:
Backsplash Tiles. Subway tiles reign supreme, with homes advertizing this feature selling at 7% above asking price. Patterned tiles tended to help but not as markedly, with homes generally selling at 4% above asking.
Cabinets. The clean lines of Shaker cabinets are popular, and on average homes sold for 9.6% above asking when featuring them. Think about updating the bathroom vanity – an inexpensive and easy upgrade – as well as kitchen cabinet faces.
Counters. Quartz and natural stone countertops helped homes exceed expected sales prices, at 6% and 4% over asking, respectively.
According to the Remodeling magazine report, “curb appeal” projects—changes to doors, windows, facade, cast iron railings and landscaping—by and large generated higher ROIs than work done inside the home. (Check out http://www.amighini.net/ as a source for historic vintage doors in Jersey City.) As a general rule, the simpler the job, the cheaper it is and the more likely it will have a high ROI. If you have a home which you can alter from the outside, here are some easy ways to improve a buyer’s first impression and make them want to see more inside.
Front door. Does your front door need work? Is the paint tidy, the hardware shiny, the glass polished? Be mindful of what your entrance might be saying about your interior. If the owner hasn’t bothered to keep up appearances of the front door, no telling what the inside looks like, or so the buyer may think. Invest in sprucing up your front entry to entice buyers to come on in.
Plants. No green thumb needed. Just make sure everything is neat and tidy. Buy some flowers or greenery for pots on the stoop. 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. Fix broken light fixtures and loose hinges. Repair cracked windows. And don’t forget to sweep the steps.
General Lightening and Brightening
A simple lick of paint can solve so 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, though warmer colors like sage green are also on trend for 2018.
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, cluing in buyers that there’s nothing to hide and that you have a space worth showing off.
Open and Airy. Five minutes worth of HGTV viewing and you will know that everyone wants open concept living. If you have the means, opening up spaces – say between your kitchen and living room – could provide buyers what they crave. This could entail a serious time and monetary investment but could pay off if it brings your space up to date. However, simply decluttering your space can also open it up and make it feel new again. Buyers in particular want to feel that the property is spacious and amply big. Purge (check out our spring cleaning guide here), clean, and find the right furniture to fit each room, in the right arrangement. If you’re serious about listing and need help pulling together the right look and feel, consider enlisting your realtor to help identify a trusted home stager, styler or designer.