As the housing market regains its footing, home prices are creeping back up. It may take a while for them to reach their former glory, though—a huge inventory of unsold properties remains in most areas.
But veteran real estate agents are doing what they have to do to make the sale. And they know that home improvements even for old homes, can add value to the pitch and can help seal the deal.
Remodeling doesn’t always mean a guaranteed return on investment. Some projects, such as adding a wood deck or renovating kitchens and bathrooms, usually pay for themselves. For other projects, you’ll need to consider local market characteristics, the magnitude of the work to be performed, and even the tastes of prospective buyers.
That said, if there’s a design flaw or structural issue—or if something is simply outdated or ugly—you stand to recoup your investment and then some with any of the following real estate renovation upgrades.
Deck. A deck is a fantastic way to extend the living space. The cost of adding a deck to a home depends on size and how many features you want. Built-in seating and multiple levels look great, but can turn a $1,000 project into a $10,000 project before you know it. Adding a deck doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal. Use low-maintenance composite decking materials to keep the budget low. Pressure-treated wood is also a great value.
Kitchen. You already know a kitchen can make or break the sale. Give it some special attention and you’ll see a lot of interested buyers when you show the home. Renovating an old kitchen costs a lot, but by replacing cabinets, appliances and countertops you can make the cooking area—and the home it’s in—look and feel entirely new. Be sure to replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Energy Star-rated appliances are good for the environment because they use less energy, and potential buyers looking for ways to save money will take note.
Bathroom. The bathroom is another deal-maker (or deal-breaker). It’s a private, personal space that needs to be in tip-top shape or else you could be flushing the big deal. Examine fixtures such as faucets and shower heads. Make sure hardware such as cabinets and the vanity is structurally sound and looking good. Replace and remodel with extreme prejudice. Buyers may see “potential” in the rest of the house, but they want to see “perfect” in the water closet.
Power generator. A generator is a valuable safety precaution to take in case of loss of electricity. Also called emergency generators or backup generators, these machines are especially important in areas susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes. Modern generators aren’t like the noisy, smelly and bulky generators of a generation ago. They’re actually life-saving equipment in places such as Texas, Florida and Louisiana.
Floors. Don’t forget what you’re standing on. According to some estimates, an investment of $600-$900 in flooring can mean a return in value of up to $2,000 in the asking price of the property. You may not even have to spend that much. A well-placed nail here or there can eliminate problematic floor squeaks. Broken tiles and damaged floor boards are other relatively small jobs. But if an entirely new floor is in order, consider ditching wall-to-wall carpets in favor of engineered hardwoods. Another option is floating cork, which lasts longer than cork tile.