House projects - what gets the best re-sale value?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 3:43 PM GMT
    Hey guys...I'm looking to make some improvements to my house before I put it on the market. But, I don't want to waste time/money on things that won't help the re-sale value. What are some good and affordable ideas to help?

    A little about my house: 3 BR, 2.5 bath, all carpet, laminate in kitchen (i know, sux), fenced in backyard, etc.

    Thanks!
    Brad
  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Apr 22, 2012 3:50 PM GMT
    Why do you want to make improvements? Only do stuff on the property that will increase it's value and give you a greater profit.

    If there are things that really detract from the property, like bad windows or really out-dated kitchen, then you might need to change these.

    But don't go wasting money.

    Loz
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    Apr 22, 2012 4:44 PM GMT
    In today's market if your kitchen cabinets and floors are in good shape I think cheap granite and stainless appliances always get a good return. Seems silly, but they're kind of expected. Otherwise paint, clean carpets, clean everything, declutter and style it. Remove everything that's too personal. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves in it.
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    Apr 22, 2012 4:53 PM GMT
    I agree that granite or composite countertops on clean cabinets are a huge selling point. So does having curb appeal in terms of landscaping and sturdy/efficient windows.

    From personal experience... Move most of your stuff out already. An empty house looks bigger than a cluttered one. And, weird smells never work. If you have pets, try to hide all signs they are there.

    Consult with your agent. That's why they're taking your money. There is often an agent caravan where your agent is supposed to get feedback from other agents after previewing your property.

    Good luck. One more thing: the cool thing about laminate in the kitchen is it is easy to update compared to tile. Same thing with carpet floors. Quick and easy to install...and replace. (the stories I could tell.............)icon_rolleyes.gif

    Also, check out shows like "designed to sell" or whatever is on HGTV nowadays.

    I started to enjoy buying fresh flowers a couple of times a week during that process.
  • SkyMiles

    Posts: 963

    Apr 22, 2012 4:58 PM GMT
    Yeah, from watching all those house shows, there's not much you can add that adds more value to the house than what it costs to build in the first place. A friend of mine did it by finishing out his bonus room and putting in a bath which made it a possible extra bedroom -- that kicked his house up a category. You might check things like that with a realtor.
    Other than that, the advice other posters offered (fixing anything that's broken, replacing or redoing anything especially ugly, fresh paint) makes more sense.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:00 PM GMT
    When i was renovating my unit last year in Australia , my cousin who is an estate agent told me , kitchen ( kitchen bench , new cupboads , and appliances ) is a good investment as well as washrooms ...
    This year i renovated my unit in Florida and i got the same answer from the estate agent .
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:02 PM GMT
    +1 on paint. Neutral colors though. Double check with your realtor.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:04 PM GMT
    I've been told that fresh paint and landscaping are the most cost effective ways to spruce up a house before sale.

    +1 for de-cluttering.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:24 PM GMT
    Raleigh, North Carolina

    According to citydata there were 1024 single family houses permitted in 2010 with an average construction cost of $201,600.

    That jives with this which I coincidentally just found

    http://www.byoh.com/costtobuildahomeinraleighnorthcarolina
    "By acting as your own General Contractor you could reduce the estimated cost to build to $209,316 and therefore the cost per sq. ft. to around $103.31 per sq. ft."

    According to Zillow, the average selling price there today is $165,500 for single family (condos bring that number down further). It shows the median sales prices coming in at about $106 per square foot (about the price it costs to build a new home).

    So it looks like the land and infrastructures are pretty much selling for free with purchase of house.

    You guys aren't in as bad a shape as we are in Florida by any stretch because here you get the land and infrastructure for free as well as getting the building for under construction costs. It's a freaking joke. A bad one.

    Still, it indicates that you don't want to put very much into your home in an attempt to increase what someone might pay.

    My guess is that you want to just do things that will not discourage someone from buying such as removing any creep factor, makes sure everything is repaired, clean, painted and looking good.

    PS. As to the person mentioning granite. Totally depends on your neighborhood. If you do go stone (which I don't suggest), go directly to the suppliers as they are undercutting retail now just to push product. I recently did a kitchen and bath vanity for at least 40% below retail plus they threw in the kitchen and bath sinks for free.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:26 PM GMT
    As far as renovations go, the best thing to do is make the updates you want to make while you are still living in the home rather than doing anything major before selling it as you often don't get 100% return. That's why I've been gradually upgrading my place.

    Here's an average cost calculator you can use as a guide (change the city for your region):
    http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2011/costvsvalue/division/pacific/city/san-diego--ca.aspx

    Too late for you, I know, so go with the fresh paint, decluttering, and obvious fixes.
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    Apr 22, 2012 5:41 PM GMT
    erik911sd saidHere's an average cost calculator you can use as a guide (change the city for your region):
    http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2011/costvsvalue/division/pacific/city/san-diego--ca.aspx


    I'd guess that would be tough to judge today particularly since houses can be bought so cheaply. I bought two dilapidated piece of crap houses that needed new windows, roofs, doors, baths, kitchen, etc. Though I'm planning to stay here very long term, living in one and renting the other, but I'm pretty certain that if I just hold till the market comes back I'd be getting more than I put into it.

    But you're right to do that stuff while living there so you can enjoy it and not just make improvements to sell as if we're suddenly all savvy developers. That was a great little theme for the bullshit flipping years but that's about all that was.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:04 PM GMT
    Tell me more about the granite composite...I'm assuming that's less expensive than the real deal? Does it look good?
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:09 PM GMT
    go_vols saidHey guys...I'm looking to make some improvements to my house before I put it on the market. But, I don't want to waste time/money on things that won't help the re-sale value. What are some good and affordable ideas to help?

    A little about my house: 3 BR, 2.5 bath, all carpet, laminate in kitchen (i know, sux), fenced in backyard, etc.

    Thanks!
    Brad


    Sound like you"re trying to escape suburban Hell!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:09 PM GMT
    its going to cost you more to do upgrades like cabinets, flooring, etc. id stick to paint, cleanliness, and making the front and backyards more presentable. if your kitchen is in good condition, consider refinishing the doors and maybe new knobs icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:15 PM GMT
    go_vols saidTell me more about the granite composite...I'm assuming that's less expensive than the real deal? Does it look good?
    I prefer the look of granite. But, a lot of my friends think differently.

    Since you're listing your house, I would go for costs less and double-check with your realtor before signing a contract.

    Some stone species are porous and can stain if you rest a greasy spoon on the counter. Composites are supposed to be more durable. Soapstone might be an option in your area.

    The argument against plastic/Corian is if you set a hot pan on it, you can end up with scorch marks and scratch marks.

    Smart home buyers will look at a new inexpensive wood laminate countertop and think "that'll come out easy when we upgrade to granite." But, home shopping is still an emotional experience. I think smart home buyers are hiding with the tooth fairy.

    My purchase was a new tract home for around $200K. I didn't go for the stone upgrade because it would be resting on cheap cabinets from Mexico. I should have begged for wood laminate because the "free" upgrade was the 4" generic white ceramic tiles...on a 2" thick bed of poured concrete that was a total ass-kicker to take out.

    Next time, I'm just going to destroy the cabinets underneath with a sawzall and drag the concrete slab out by a chain attached to my bumper. But, those cabinets were handy for the garage.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:37 PM GMT
    It's not so much about what will increase the home price as to what will make potential buyers put in a bid when there are 6 other similar houses on the block. Paint at the top of your list, most will opt for sprucing up the kitchen, but personally I'd consider putting down some cheap laminate faux hardwood instead of the carpet at least in the living/dining areas (unless you have a particularly attractive and newer carpet setup).
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:41 PM GMT
    I've done this a few times, and you lose money quickly, especially in this economy where 1/3 of sales are foreclosures and short sales. Do you know who funds the home improvement shows? Common myths are that you'll get 150% back of what you put into kitchens and bathrooms, etc.

    One rule of thumb: Less is more. Do minor fix-ups with paint and a good cleaning. Inside and out, everything hosed down, scrubbed, wiped, polished and vacuumed. The garage floor needs to be clean enough to eat on. Hire a team of professional cleaners. Hire a handyman to touch up paint and spackle as needed. Rent a storage unit and de-clutter. Your goal is to stage it to where it looks like you're a minimalist with your personal belongings. Buy nice used furniture and good towels if need be.

    You want them thinking: Oh, it's nice enough to move in tomorrow, and then later on I can do so and so to the kitchen or bathroom.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:46 PM GMT
    Kitchens and baths sell properties. Windows don't always get you a return, they're somewhat of a requirement these days. Ensure that whatever you do is neutral and will appeal to the widest range of buyers, but don't overdo it for your market.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 7:50 PM GMT
    fuzzywuzzy saidKitchens and baths sell properties. Windows don't always get you a return, they're somewhat of a requirement these days. Ensure that whatever you do is neutral and will appeal to the widest range of buyers, but don't overdo it for your market.


    Kitchens and bathrooms don't sell properties in this market, prices do. It's a myth that they offer any return on investment. Most people are looking for a bargain.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 8:00 PM GMT
    White4DarkerFL said
    fuzzywuzzy saidKitchens and baths sell properties. Windows don't always get you a return, they're somewhat of a requirement these days. Ensure that whatever you do is neutral and will appeal to the widest range of buyers, but don't overdo it for your market.


    Kitchens and bathrooms don't sell properties in this market, prices do. It's a myth that they offer any return on investment. Most people are looking for a bargain.


    Working in the industry, they do. Whether the market allows for the reimbursement of your initial investment or not, people want the house with the updated kitchen and bathroom verses the 1950's pink tile and 70's kitchen.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 8:08 PM GMT
    I wouldn't be your typical buyer, but for me I'd agree with just a good clean and polish unless you have damage to the carpets, etc. I'd prefer to redo the place myself before moving in because I hate the way people modernize their homes. I would probably want to change all the colours, floors, etc. anyway if I moved in. Make sure the yard is super tidy.
  • stefanapolis

    Posts: 65

    Apr 22, 2012 8:24 PM GMT
    My advice would be to

    A. Consult with your agent and maybe look at some comparable properties with them, it helps to see what other potential buyers will be looking at against your property. Try to look at it through the eyes of a perspective buyer. what kind of people are looking for properties in your neighborhood. young families? older families? downsizing parents? young couples? these groups look at houses differently and have different expectations

    B. Don't over renovate! I would say if you are looking to leave soon (within the next year) don't bother with major renovations, you prolly won't see the return on investment. I say this because you see so many people renovate to sell, then they still don't get a higher price for the home. (Example, my parents neighbors had put their house on the market, and had renovated the kitchen to hope it would sell closer to their asking price. well, they still received 40k under what they were hoping for and the new owners came in and gutted the kitchen to what they wanted, so a new kitchen meant nothing and was a waste of their money)

    My advice would be if you want out quickly, try to do as much as you can yourself. little fixes. landscape the yards to look attractive from the outside, this is the first thing a buyer will see and they will make a strong initial reaction from that. NEW PAINT! this does wonders! i would suggest. Deep clean your carpets and make sure their are no odors in the house, this can turn off buyers (have someone who does not spend a lot of time in the house or a outside party just walk through and smell, sounds strange but our bodies adapt to odors we smell on a consistent basis and eventually don't even recognize them, i.e pets)

    I would suggest to just make sure everything is as clean as possible, uncluttered, no personal objects. But if you want out quickly, i wouldn't waste the money on larger scale renovations, they most likely won't raise the value of your home. and remember their are always people out there looking for projects (some people like doing that, who knew? :-P)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 8:35 PM GMT
    Todays granite is tomorrows shag carpet
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19133

    Apr 22, 2012 8:41 PM GMT
    I would say don't spend a dime making improvements, price the house accordingly, and sell the house "As Is". Why make improvements on things that people may want to change or not be of their liking anyway?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 22, 2012 8:48 PM GMT
    Opinions and anecdotes are great, but the data on this has been stable for decades and is all over the web. For example, see

    http://www.remodeling.hw.net/2008/costvsvalue/national.aspx

    Ignore the dollar and %return figures, as they are national averages and thus useless for any particular property. But the ranking (in this chart, click twice on the percent recouped column) is what hasn't changed much in decades. Start with the top and go down the list. I'd look for other such ranked lists online as well before investing anything significant.

    Or, just post on RJ, a veritable font of thorough, researched, qualified and knowledgable advice.