Whether you’re preparing to sell or planning to stay put for decades, your home is most likely your most valuable asset. Investing in upkeep and larger projects is a surefire way to maintain — and increase home value.
On average, renovation projects should recoup 64.4 percent of their costs in 2016, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual survey, although the return on investment varies widely by the type of project, the value of the houses in your neighborhood and the local housing market. More important, though, are your own goals and timeframe.
“Are you doing it to sell the place, to live in the place or a little bit of both?” asks Bruce Irving, a renovation consultant and realtor. “Time should always be thrown into the mix.” Regardless of your timetable, here is how you can add value to your home:
Sweating the small stuff
The little details matter — both when you want to sell and in the day-to-day enjoyment of your house.
1. Paint: Nothing makes a quicker change in the appearance of a house than a fresh coat of paint, especially neutral colors that add light to rooms and make surfaces look cleaner and crisper. “The power of paint should never be underestimated,” Irving says. “That’s true inside and out.”
2. Deep cleaning: An essential part of preparing a home for sale, a thorough cleaning — floors, windows, and more — can also help identify maintenance issues and give you a healthier house to live in even if you’re not selling soon.
3. Landscaping: Overgrown yards and unkempt trees and bushes can turn off buyers so staying on top of your outside spaces is always important. Trees that are poorly cared for can lose limbs or fall, causing thousands of dollars in damage. When adding new plants and trees, consider ones native to your area because they’re less likely to require extra watering or other maintenance.
4. Heating and air conditioning systems: While an air conditioning unit lacks curb appeal, an aging, noisy system could send buyers back to the street. One benefit of replacing old systems: New, energy-efficient systems can save big bucks on utility bills — as much as 30 or 40 percent over creaky, decades-old equipment.
5. Offsite storage: When staging a home for sale, don’t just cram everything in the closet — that’s where people have the toughest time seeing past the clutter and visualizing the space available to them. “Renting a storage locker for $50 is probably the best investment you can make when it’s time to sell your home,” says New York realtor and real estate expert Brendon DeSimone.
The big stuff
When it comes to larger remodeling projects, strike a balance between what you want and what’s likely to attract buyers in the future. “Do whatever you want. It’s your house,” says DeSimone. “But be sure to be conscious of what the market will be like down the road. You never know when you might want to sell.” Real estate agents and renovation specialists can help you learn what buyers want in your market to increase home value.
6. Roofs: Before you lay out a lot of cash for upgrades inside the house, make sure your roof is in good shape. Along with preventing potentially costly damage, a well-maintained roof instills confidence in buyers, according to Irving. “Having a roof that’s less than 10 years old when you put the house on the market tends to calm people down,” he says. “Otherwise, they wonder what else you haven’t been keeping up.”
7. Kitchen: It’s true that a kitchen remodel has long offered the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to renovations, but don’t count on getting back every penny you put into it. Focus on future value and function. How do you use the space, and what will make it better? If you’re preparing to sell, even small tweaks get results. Consider re-facing or painting old cabinets, adding a backsplash, or replacing the most dated appliances. “Just make what you have work,” says Irving.
8. Bathrooms: Bathroom remodels are another big-ticket item with the potential for returns — but only if you’re careful. “Simple, simple, simple,” Irving advises. Consider classic subway tile or calm, soothing stone patterns. In the short term, less expensive fixes can go a long way. Replace or bleach the grout, upgrade light fixtures and faucets, repaint or replace vanities, and upgrade the toilet (or even just its seat).
9. Siding: When possible, upgrading faded vinyl and aluminum siding with wood or newer siding products gives you more options, not the least of which is the ability to give your exterior a fresh new color, according to Irving.
10. Additions: With more millennials returning home after college and older parents moving in with their children, increasing usable square footage can make a house more appealing to multi-generational families, according to DeSimone. Focus on creating functional space — more open kitchen and living areas, and possibly guest suites or rooms over the garage that help meet the needs of larger families.
After you increase the value of your home, make sure you protect. Homeowners Insurance from Nationwide can give you the coverage you need at a price that’s right for you.