If you are planning to sell your home, the list of potential improvements to consider before staking that sign in your front lawn probably seems endless. And the numbers can be a bit disheartening — nearly all remodeling projects do not recoup the full costs when you sell your home.
But recouped costs do not give you the complete picture. Selling your house quickly, and at your asking price, are goals that the right remodeling projects could help you achieve when you put your house on the market. Here’s what I found out from a contractor, an architect and a real estate agent about how to remodel smart and small when you are prepping for sale.
James Crisp: Click to View the Original Photo on Houzz!
Boost Curb Appeal
Add a porch. “This is one of the least expensive additions to a home, which gives the absolute maximum curb appeal for the dollar,” says James Crisp of Crisp Architects in Millbrook, New York. Many potential buyers will make up their mind about about whether to attend your open house based on the impression they get the first time they drive by — and an attractive front porch can be a wonderful way to lure people in.
Pay attention to details. Iris Harrell, CEO of Harrell Remodeling, adds, “A clean and welcoming appearance at the front entry is critical. Add a new exterior light fixture, new front door or front door color, and new door hardware with a lock that works properly. If the front door has a sidelight of glass that is a bubble glass from the 1960s, change it to clear tempered glass. Bring in as much natural light as you can.”
Choose exterior colors and finishes that feel current. “If you have a section of diagonal wood siding from the 1970s, replace it with horizontal siding, which was popular in the last century and is still popular,” says Harrell. “For exterior the color should recede and let the landscape be the focus. So no pink exteriors — try deeper earth tones. And no high sheen — that only appeals to a small group of people.”
Do you have a Houzz Profile for your real estate business? Create one for free today!
Crisp Architects: Click to View the Original Photo on Houzz!
Improve Light and Flow
Spring for more windows. “Add windows for light and views,” says Crisp. “Most ‘builder’ homes are from stock plans, which do not take advantage of the views and have nothing to do with the place the home is built.”
Not sure it’s worth the splurge? Pay attention to photos of rooms you most admire — chances are, they include generous windows, striking views or both. And unlike paint color choices and decorating decisions, great windows appeal to everyone.
Remove Walls. Imagine attending an open house where the rooms are difficult to navigate, dark or simply too small and cramped. Not pleasant, is it? “Combine rooms,” advises Crisp. “Our clients almost always want to improve the flow and connection between rooms.”
Consider taking down a wall between the kitchen and dining room, the living room and kitchen, or the kitchen and breakfast nook to open up the space. Always check with a pro before removing a wall in your home to ensure structural safety. It’s not worth the risk to do it yourself without assurance that you are not removing a load-bearing wall.
Crisp Architects: Click to View the Original Photo on Houzz!
Update the Kitchen and Bath
Add a breakfast bay. “Breakfast bays can add views, light and character to a home,” says Crisp. Sure, people want high-end appliances, but “a breakfast bay also is one of the most desired additions to a kitchen,” he says. A lovely bay window breakfast nook could be just the sort of charming feature that ends up selling your house.
Give your kitchen a DIY makeover. Caroline Bass, an agent at Citi Habitats in Manhattan, says, “Kitchen renovations can be big or small, depending on how much money you have to invest, but they are definitely worthwhile — most buyers are looking for move-in-ready homes.” If you don’t have a big budget for updating your kitchen, there are still plenty of high-impact things you can do.
“Try changing out old appliances for new, modern ones. Reface your cabinets or simply purchase new cabinet doors if your current ones look outdated,” says Bass. “Changing hardware is a great investment, too — you can even buy nice nickel-colored pulls at Home Depot for under $2 each! I just did this in my kitchen, and they look great.”
Make small swaps in the bathroom. Major bathroom renovations do not typically make the same impact on a home-selling price as kitchen renovations do, so save your money here — and make what you do splurge on count.
“Small changes to your bathroom, such as a new vanity or mirror and new lighting fixtures, will make a big impression to buyers,” says Bass.
Caroline Bass Citi Habitats. Click to View the Original Photo on Houzz!
Take Care of the Basics
Clean and paint. Just because we are talking renovating here doesn’t mean you should forget about the basics. “A new coat of paint, inside and even outside, in a neutral color will make your home look clean and fresh to prospective buyers,” Bass says. “Bold colors can often be a turnoff; painting is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to get your home ready to sell.”
And clean your windows, advises Bass. “I know this isn’t a renovation tip per se, but it will make a big difference in the amount of light that comes into your house or apartment,” she says. “You’d be amazed at how few people do this.”
Choose timeless finishes. “Hardwood floors are a much better investment than stained concrete floors, as it has wider appeal and works for both contemporary and traditional design,” says Harrell. “Replace old wall-to-wall carpets and reduce the amount of carpet in the home, the exceptions being the master bedroom and on the stairs.”
In the living room, Harrell recommends smaller updates, such as refacing the fireplace and updating the mantel. And don’t neglect scent! “Make sure the fireplace does not smell like burnt wood upon entering the home,” she says. “If your nose is too used to it, ask a friend who will tell you what the home smells like upon entering.”