Should you make that home improvement?
The simple answer:
Yes, as long as the improvement is something you will enjoy while you remain in your home. That being said, if you are interested in knowing whether a specific home improvement will make your home more salable or whether you will be able to recoup your investment, read below.
Inexpensive improvements can improve your resale value.
1) Power-wash your house, including exterior windows. This could make a huge difference in the way your home looks. You may not even need to repaint the house.
2) Paint the exterior doors and trim. This alone can improve the curb appeal.
3) Paint the interior of your home, especially in high traffic rooms which have been scuffed, etc. Don’t forget moldings around doors and floor.
4) Refinish hardwood floors. Refinishing a floor to remove ground-in dirt and dents and tighten boards can significantly improve the internal appearance of your home.
5) Replace old bathroom and kitchen fixtures. A home with beautiful shiny new features (they don’t have to be expensive) will be much more attractive than one with rusty, crusted, chipped faucets.
6) Clean landscaping. Trim overgrown trees and shrubs, add flowers, plant grass seed. These inexpensive additions could make a big difference in appearance of home.
Significant improvements could boost your selling price.
1) Flooring. Install hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are easy to maintain, “green”, and are healthier than carpeting as they do not trap mold and dust mites. They make any home look higher end. See the Flooring Girl’s site for more benefits. You can expect to recoup your full investment when selling your home.
2) Deck additions. Adding a covered, enclosed, or open deck is a great investment. Not only will you get to use the deck while you live there (and what’s better than sitting outside on a warm spring morning with a hot cup of coffee and the paper), but approximately 70% of your investment can be expected when selling your home.
3) Kitchen and bathroom remodeling. New flooring, tiles, fixtures, appliances. All can make a big difference in the salability of your home, and can usually return 75-100% of your investment.
4) Replace entry doors. This could have been added to the inexpensive improvement list (but depends on how crazy you get with door selection) but an updated entrance door can make a huge difference in curb appeal and can often provide 90-100% return.
5) Replace garage doors. (~75%)
6) Add a garage if you don’t already have one.
7) Replace siding or windows if they are in poor shape.
8) Add a family room (~80%).
Some improvements do not add value:
1) Installing swimming pools. Most buyers view them as dangerous, expensive to maintain and a lawsuit waiting to happen, at least that’s true in the Northeast.
2) Overbuilding for the neighborhood. Adding an expensive 2nd story or a major home addition will not be recouped in value if the neighborhood homes are not similar. Most buyers won’t want to buy a $400K home in a $200K neighborhood, regardless of how nice it is.
3) Extensive landscaping. While small improvements, new grass seed, etc. are recommended, making huge changes in landscaping might scare off some buyers. Most buyers will not pay extra for the landscaping and will be leery of maintaining it.
4) High end upgrades. If these improvements are done only in parts of the home, it creates a mismatch (great bathroom but crappy flooring/kitchen/etc). If you are going to invest in high end upgrades in one room, eventually you will want to upgrade other rooms.
5) Invisible improvements. Improvements that are necessary but invisible, such as new plumbing or repairing the roof are rarely recouped (but of course, cannot be avoided).
So make whatever improvements you want if you are making them just for your own enjoyment. If you are making them with an eye on future resale value, choose carefully!
And as always, call your real estate professional if you have any questions.
Estimates of recouped amounts from various sources including: Familyhandyman.com and styleathome.com.