Which remodel will give you the best return?

May 8, 2017

If you’re planning on living in your current house for a while, it makes the most sense to do the remodels that you will most enjoy. But if you know you’re going to be selling your house in the next few years and want to make some changes in the meantime, you should consider what changes will give you the biggest return on your investment. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Make necessary repairs first. If the basement is leaking or the furnace is old, you need to deal with those issues before tackling any other projects. After all, potential buyers can’t overlook possible foundation issues or a dying furnace even if the bathroom is modern and features top-grade marble. Ensure that none of the basic systems of your house, such as plumbing and roofing, need repair. Only then can you move on to improving other areas of your home.

Less is often more. Relatively inexpensive changes such as adding fiberglass insulation to the attic or replacing the front door often have the biggest return on investment. Several small changes may have a bigger impact on the value of your house than one big-budget remodel.

Kitchen and bathroom remodels always attract buyers’ attention. But minor remodels tend to pay off more than extravagant remodels. For example, a $50,000 kitchen remodel in a $150,000 house probably isn’t going to increase the sale price to $200,000. But a smart $20,000 remodel might result in a $25,000 increase in the sale price.

Don’t mess with the house’s style. If you have an old farmhouse, don’t renovate with an ultra-modern kitchen that is totally out of place in the house. While you might like the discordant styles, odds are potential buyers won’t feel the same way. Keep the changes you make consistent with the overall style of your house.

Don’t spend more than the value of your house. For example, if houses in your neighborhood are selling for $300,000 and your house is worth $200,000, don’t spend more than $100,000 on renovations. Even if you use the highest-end materials and have the nicest bathrooms and kitchen in the area, you’re unlikely to convince a buyer to pay more than the going rate for houses in the neighborhood.

Different remodels have different rates of return depending on the area. A fireplace in Southern California simply doesn’t have the same appeal to buyers as a fireplace in New England. If you’re uncertain how you want to spend your remodeling dollars, check with a realtor to find out what types of remodels buyers in your area are most interested in.

Don’t forget about curb appeal. First impressions matter greatly, so all the remodeling you do inside won’t matter if buyers don’t want to set foot in the house based on what they see outside. Your house may benefit from a front porch, new siding, or other exterior changes that make your home look more welcoming.

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