I'm sharing a post from a Realtor in Georgia that provides some info for home sellers looking to get the best Bang for their Buck when doing upgrades. Making SMART upgrades to sell is always advisable to sellers, however not all upgrades are equal so it's important to understand which ones provide the highest Return on Investment.
WHat Renovations Add the Most Value and Which Are Overkill?
When preparing a home to sell, it's always best to go through the home and make a list of items that are worn or may need to be repaired. Doing this from the buyers perspective is the best way to gauge the priority of what needs to be done. Most buyers don't expect a home to be in perfect condition, but there are some things that can cause great concern. Having a good friend or two come throught the home and having them give you honest and objective feedback can really be a pluss. We get used to our homes and living in the home we tend to not notice these items as much.
Carpet - If the carpet is worn out, often in high traffic areas, is dirty, or outdated in style, it's time to replace it. Flooring is kind of semi-permanent, in that most people intend to keep it for 8-10 years and so it's expected to be in very good condition. The prospect of having to replace carpet is a huge deduction off the top. Berbers are out, and you won't want to go with anything too dark, too light or too colorful, stay neutral. If the carpet is not worn, and is a good color, clean them if you can. If replacing use a high quality pad!
Paint - Paint should be neutral and have modern colors, while what is acceptable sometimes varies from region to region, clean paint that looks crisp and professionally done always makes a big difference in marketing a home. This is one of the biggest bang for your buck renovations.
Garage Doors - Old wooden doors that have rot and flaking paint are a huge obstacle, and these can be replaced relatively inexpensively. We recommend buying the hardware to make a normal garage door look like a carriage house door. This renovation will make a big difference in curb appeal.
Exterior Doors - Badly dented metal doors, or wood doors that have a lot of water rot or where the stain is in terrible condition really hurt your curb appeal. Staining, painting, or replacing doors as necessary makes a big difference in first impression.
Lighting - For $400-600 in materials you can often change outdated light fixtures to modern light fixtures, making the home feel so much more modern. The difference here can be dramatic, and going form a regular light to a ceiling fan in bedrooms is a big value add. Don't skimp here, a $69 ceiling fan will add a lot of value, but putting in a $12 one won't get you much return.
Programmable Thermostats - These save energy costs, but also make the home feel so much more updated. For $50-75 this is an item that just makes sense.
Roof leaks - If the home has a pretty good roof with life left in it, but has a leak from a boot that needs caulking or a problem spot that needs to be addressed, a few hundred dollars repair can make a huge difference in the sale of your home. Make sure to paint the ceiling too show no concern is created after the repair has been made.
Heating and Air - You will want to make sure that the furnace heats and the air conditioning cools. Getting the units serviced so that you can show records of them being well maintained will make people feel very comfortable.
Termite Bond - Active termites can kill your deal very quickly, and a lot of buyers can't look past this issue, or will discount your home severely. Replacing visible damage, and getting the home treated and under a bond can be a great investment. Often the damage isn't as expensive to fix as you would think, but this can be a deal killer.
Staining Decks - Replacing any rotted boards, and putting new top plates can make a big difference, and pressure washing and staining a deck may cost you $100 to do yourself but will really make a difference to the bueyr.
Pressure Washing Cement - Cement that is blackened from years of stain never looks great, and for less than a couple hundred dollars you can rent a pressure washer with a walk behind disc attachment that will make your cement look brand new.
Landscaping - Making sure the lawn looks green, is free of weeds, and is freshly mowed and edged, while also making sure flower beds have fresh pine bark or pine straw and flowers and neatly trimmed shrubs will add to curb appeal and make a buyer feel that you pay attention to detail.
Clean Windows - Windows should be in good repair and should open, close and lock. Having them clean will make a very good impression.
Granite Remnants - Often laminate bathroom countertops can be replaced with granite countertops that have low proflie stainless sinks for $500-700. This is often only a little more expensive than using new laminate, but makes a big difference in look and often a very positive for appraisals.
Framing in Mirrors - We love taking trim and trimming the outside edges of the mirror for a much more expensive look at a very low price!
Paint Cabinets & Replace Hardware - Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, and having very dated cabinets with ancient hardware is a big negative, and it's not very expensive to paint them and put new hardware on them! This can make one of the biggest differences!
This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but it does give some low cost options that can improve the liklihood, timing and price your home brings on the market!
Sean S. Williams
Licensed Broker, Realtor®, ABR®, e-Pro®
1st Time Buyer & Relocation Specialist
of Louisville, Kentucky
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