Feel like your house would benefit from a refresh before you put it up for sale by owner? It can be a savvy strategy for many, depending on your market. But it’s important to consider what adds value before you start looking around for home remodel ideas.
The last thing that you want to do is spend money right before selling your home that you can’t recoup in the sale. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most bang for your remodeling buck.
Does Remodeling Increase Home Value?
While remodeling your home will typically increase its value, the increased value amount depends on the remodel itself (we have more on that later). However, other factors that are out of your control include the existing market conditions, such as your current competition and recent previous sales, but also the opinion of a buyer, which can be impossible to gauge.
“You have to be careful about spending more on remodeling than the market will return,” says Christopher Pagli, associate real estate broker with William Raveis Legends Realty Group in Tarrytown, N.Y. “Just because you spent a bundle on your remodel doesn’t mean you will necessarily get that back when your house hits the market.”
Chelsea E. Ialeggio, an agent in Marin County, California, agrees that the answer to what adds value to homes could be on a case-by-case basis, as you assess your particular market. “Ask yourself if you are able to take the risk of not seeing a return on investment if the property doesn’t sell at a certain price,” she advises.
And, believe it or not, some home “improvements” might actually detract, such as adding a pool. This reminder comes from Melanie Hartmann, owner and CEO of Creo Home Solutions, in Baltimore, Maryland, who has extensive experience in fixing and flipping homes.
Overall, it’s very important to not over-improve and to instead invest your remodeling budget on updates that actually add value to your home’s price tag.
Which Home Improvements Add The Most Value?
So with that word of caution out of the way, let’s proceed to the good news – the best ways to add value to your home. You may be surprised to find that they are perhaps not the ones you’d immediately think of.
In fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 “Cost vs. Value” report, the No. 1 home improvement that will have the largest return on investment is updating your garage door – offering a near-perfect 97% return on investment (ROI).
Proving that curb appeal is hot, adding manufactured stone veneer also scores in the 90s with a 94% ROI.
“Think of the outside of your home like the cover of a book,” says Hartmann. “Your home’s curb appeal is its first impression; the more appealing it is, the more offers it will attract, and thus the more value it will bring.”
Looking beyond mere dollars and cents, kitchens and baths tend to bring a good ROI, says Pagli. He also believes that “big-ticket items,” while costly, can add a lot of value. Again, this depends on your local market. Specific ideas include adding a bedroom, bath or deck, or upgrading your roof and windows.
“Highlighting these improvements in the listing should increase the marketability of the home,” he says. You also might want to underscore any energy-saving benefits they offer, to help keep bills low throughout the year.
Another great idea is to hire a home inspector prior to listing your home for sale. It will cost a few hundred dollars, but they will provide you with a list of any problems or defects in your home. These noncosmetic issues are great items to fix prior to listing to avoid costly repair negotiations.
How Can I Add Value To My House?
While those larger upgrades are smart, Hartmann believes that anything that packs a lot of punch for minimal effort or money are the best ways to add value to your home. And remember, if you are in the market to sell, you don’t need to look toward your own tastes, but rather think about what will be appealing to your potential buyer.
Hartmann says that major renovations, when done correctly, will add value to your home. However, rarely will the entire cost be fully recouped, so it’s best to stick to low-cost remodeling techniques that pack a big punch as you prepare to sell.
“If you are unsure on what styles are popular, look to rehabbed houses that have sold recently in your area to see what materials may be best to use in your house,” she says.
Here are some large renovation ideas that can add major value to your home – if done correctly.
- If you have an unfinished space in your home, finish it. This could be a basement or attic storage space, for example. You’ll need to make sure that everything is permitted and up to code, but adding square footage is a great way to add major value to a home. Be careful converting garages to living space, as in many areas, buyers expect a usable garage.
- Another way to increase the value of your home is to add a bedroom. You can do this without putting on an addition if you have an extra space in your home. This could be a loft, office, or other extra space. Research the legal requirements for a bedroom in your home and make the updates to that space to meet that threshold.
- Renovating a bathroom can add a lot of value to a home, especially if the current state of the bathroom is dated or dingy. Focus on keeping things light, bright and neutral – bathrooms are not the place for bold design choices when trying to appeal to the masses.
- Transforming a living space to be an open concept can add huge value to your home. Depending on whether walls are load bearing or not can have a huge impact on the cost of this project. But open concept homes are going to be much more appealing to a larger audience than one that has all rooms closed off.
- If you plan to sell your appliances with your home, upgrading old appliances could be a good investment. Shop the sale rack or a discount store for a great deal on brand new appliances.
- Update anything that seems high maintenance. If you have a very old HVAC system, roof, or hot water heater, for example, that might deter buyers who are looking for something more turnkey. These items are likely to show up on a home inspection anyway, so updating them in advance just opens your home up to more potential buyers – and a higher selling price.
How Can I Increase The Value Of My Home For Cheap?
First start with the very easiest: “A clean, well-organized home that has been styled will always present in a much more attractive manner,” notes Ialeggio. And then you can move on to cosmetic improvements.
Here are some top inexpensive home remodel ideas to try:
- Repaint your entire home to remove scuff marks, wear and tear, and to make the space feel clean and new.
- Refresh the basics, such as upgrading light fixtures and hardware and adding modern window treatments, recommends Pagli.
- Paint the walls a neutral color that will have mass appeal. “This advice is tried and true for a reason,” says Hartmann, who adds that in 2020, paint trends are anticipated to remain neutral while transitioning to more natural colors other than gray.
- Refinish or paint kitchen cabinets, especially if they are solid wood cabinets from the ’70s, says Pagli. Just make sure to use a paint formula specifically designed for cabinets.
- Invest in light landscaping, such as adding color with seasonal plants and fresh mulch.
- Refresh your curb appeal by painting or adding window shutters and window boxes. “This is appealing to potential buyers, as the outside of a home is a strong indicator of how well the house itself has been kept,” Hartmann says.
- Paint your front door and add some potted plants and a new doormat to your porch for a welcoming entryway.
- Metal fixtures can quickly become dated and age a home. Replace dated faucets, knobs and hardware for a more modern look. Go for a cohesive design across the whole home for best results.
- Care for your floors. Hopefully a good professional cleaning may be all it takes to make your carpet look and feel brand new again, says Hartmann, although she recommends replacing it if it’s more than 5 years old. If you’re looking into new floor treatments, she says that buyers tend to be attracted to easy-to-clean flooring, such as vinyl planks, tile or hardwood, particularly in the areas of the home that get the most foot traffic.
- One thing that you can do to help your home sell quicker that won’t cost a dollar is purge any unnecessary clutter and then give the space a deep clean. Potential buyers shouldn’t be distracted by your mess or filth when imagining their own possessions in your home.
Of course, no matter what updating you do, the most important things to consider when adding value to your home are your budget and goals. When in doubt, spend less money on updates. Money spent on over-improving will never be recouped.