Upgrades Can Sell Your Home
You’ve decided to sell your home, but you have some repairs to do. Or maybe you’re wondering if a quick renovation will pay off. You need to know which repairs will bring the best return on your investment.
Simple fixes tend to work in your favor, while extensive makeovers may actually diminish your selling price. You likely won’t get your money back from major home improvements completed right before the house goes on the market. Which projects are worth spending money on and which ones should you leave for the new owners?
Fix It Up
First impressions matter. Potential buyers judge your home before they even walk through the door. As impressive as the interior may be, the exterior is what sets the tone.
Spending money on curb appeal is a good investment. Brightly colored annuals, shrubs and mulch are relatively inexpensive and improve the look of your home. Even bigger-ticket items such as sod (as much as $1,500 for a 5,000-square-foot lawn) and trees (about $200 for a 7-foot Colorado blue spruce) can put a buyer in the mood to pay more.
Replacing the garage door also boosts your curb appeal. You might spend nearly $1,600, but experts estimate that you’d recoup more than 88 percent of your investment at closing.
Next, consider the house. A new door ($200 and up at the home improvement stores) or a fresh coat of paint (less than $20 a gallon) for the existing door can work wonders on buyers. If the house numbers and mailbox (anywhere from $15 to nearly $650) look tired, replace them too.
A fix that doesn’t cost a dime: keeping the walkway swept and clear of debris.
Inside, fix anything that doesn’t work, including leaky faucets, worn or missing door handles or closet doors that are not on track. Outdated plumbing or light fixtures need to go too, as does any wallpaper that’s still hanging around. Also, consider removing popcorn ceilings. At $1 to $2 per square foot, the total price can climb to more than $1,000 pretty fast. But buyers who see popcorn think, “what a lot of work!” and lower their bid accordingly.
A fresh coat of paint on the walls can spruce up the interior. However, stick to basic white. Buyers like neutral, especially if they plan to decorate with their own colors. Wash the window curtains or hang inexpensive new ones.
Other projects to consider:
- New wood floors – the price tag can be more than $5,000, but you’d recoup about 91 percent of the cost. Refinishing existing hardwood (about $2,500) also can be a good investment, though you also could leave the project for the new owners.
- New insulation – it can cost more than $2,000, but about 95 percent of the cost would come back to you.
- New exterior paint – a gallon covers 400 square feet and the higher sales price will more than cover your costs.
Leave It For The Next Guy
Buyer can have very specific tastes, so spending to update major appliances can backfire. Stick with your current appliances and just give them a good cleaning. If carpet on your floors was laid over wood, remove it. Buyers these days are more likely to be impressed with the wood.
Replacing old windows with new energy-efficient ones requires a five-figure investment. Since you won’t be reaping the benefits of lower electricity bills, your return on the project would be negligible. Better to leave this improvement for the buyer.
Other projects better left for the new owners include:
- Full bathroom remodel – updating the fixtures or installing new tile can work in your favor, but a whole new bathroom will set you back big bucks that you’ll never recover.
- Fiberglass front door – while a new door will spiff up the look, a fiberglass version can set you back $1,000 or more and won’t pay off for you at closing.
- Full kitchen remodel – cosmetic updates are fine, but people can be picky about what they want in their kitchen. Install the “wrong” color granite countertop and you could end up losing a good bit of money.
- Adding a pool – in warm-weather states pools are expected, but in cooler climates buyers often see them as more of an expensive hassle than an asset.
Is It Ready To Show?
If your house needs too many costly repairs, consider selling it “as is” – but remember that buyers looking for a fixer-upper will expect a sizable discount to compensate them for the hassle and cost of repairs. Your real estate agent can help you determine what others are asking for fixer-uppers in your area.
What sells your house best is having it “show ready” at all times. You never know when the right buyer will walk through the door and you want to be ready for the opportunity.