If you build it, they will come. But will they buy? Renovations can be the determining factor in a sale. Homeowners are spending more than ever on remodeling - a record $88 billion in the year ended September 1998, according to the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. But which renovations truly increase the market value of a home, versus those renovations that increase the comfort of a home's inhabitants?
Kitchens and bathrooms tend to top the list for remodeling according to Doug Mason, Real Estate Agent in Plymouth, Michigan. "Dollar for dollar, you get more return on your investment by updating these two living quarters. Of course, improvements vary based on the individual home. If something, such as a roof, is worn or in shabby condition, it may hurt a sale more so than a fabulous kitchen remodeling will help."
Other's note that there are other improvements that might increase the marketability of a home, but won't necessarily increase its sale price. Two improvements many homeowners choose to add are upgraded landscaping and swimming pools. Both of these, however, won't necessarily add value and, in some cases, can deter potential buyers. For example, homeowners can pay between $2,000 - $15,000 for the same landscaping job, but a home buyer may not be able to tell the difference regarding the amount of money spent. Furthermore, that beautiful landscaping might be covered with snow if the house is put up for sale during the winter months or it might become frail and brittle-looking during a too dry summer. Homeowners who are looking to add an in-ground pool should view a pool as an investment in quality of life. The value of a pool is measured more in terms of the enjoyment of having one as opposed to measurement of a good return. While in some areas of the country, pools can limit the number of potential buyers, in warmer climates pools can often help attract offers.
In addition to large renovations, there are options for those seeking to make improvements for a quick sale. Interior and exterior painting can dramatically refresh a tired-looking house. New windows, siding and gutters can also help a house sell faster and add to its curb appeal.
If sellers are able to do one thing in terms of renovations, Mason recommends keeping it clean. "Get rid of overly decorated wallpaper and add a coat of neutral paint. It makes your home more appealing to a potential buyer."