If you’re planning to sell your house any time soon, home improvements that build property value should be on your to-do list. It’s a buyer’s market, and between tighter purse strings and plenty of properties to choose from, shoppers want homes that are move-in ready and free of the need for home improvement projects that will add to their own bottom lines.
Planning home improvements that pay you back at the time of sale requires a strategic vision as well as design, finish and product selections that welcome the widest possible range of buyer tastes. Drawing on tips from real estate pros, along with Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report, here are 10 home improvements that pay you back when you sell.
Front entry doors: Curb appeal is the first step in a successful home sale, and installing a beautiful, high-quality entry door is a simple home improvement that delivers impact both in buyer drive-bys and online listings. A new entry door will also help lower home energy costs and stand up to weather extremes.
Attic bedroom: Converting an attic into useful living space is a smart way to add value and attract those shopping for multigenerational family homes. “Parents are moving in with their kids and vice versa, or people are combining their incomes to live in a bigger house,” says Renee Mayhall, RealEstate.com managing broker for the Carolinas. “So we see buyers focusing on properties with a higher number of bedrooms and baths to accommodate that.”
Decks: Building a deck is one of the least-expensive ways to extend your living space. Composite decking is a great low-maintenance option, and even building a deck from pressure-treated wood can bring a return on investment of up to 80 percent at the time of sale.
Siding: A tight, tidy home contributes to curb appeal and takes major home improvement worries off a potential buyer’s list. Spruce up your home’s exterior by repairing or replacing siding for an eye-catching, protective finish. And for way less than the cost of siding replacement, consider adding easy-to-install decorative trim elements made of high-density polyurethane foam to spruce up an otherwise dull exterior.
Kitchen: The kitchen is a major selling point for a home, and its appearance and layout can often be a deal-breaker. Improving your kitchen doesn’t have to be a huge investment, however: just replacing countertops, key appliances or cabinet hardware can transform a kitchen’s look and impact.
Windows: Installing replacement windows is a pre-sale home improvement that pays for everyone, with the seller earning valuable energy tax credits and the buyer enjoying lower home energy bills. Buyers always seem to appreciate when new, better windows have been put in. People like the energy efficiency aspect now more than ever.
Basement: Make the most of this bonus space by finishing it for use as an apartment, office or entertainment zone ─ more great ways to appeal to multi-generational households.
Bathroom: Along with kitchens, bathrooms tend to age easily, so neutralize potential design objections by replacing the vanity, installing efficient fixtures and choosing hardware that facilitates easy access for all.
Backup power generator: With the aging electrical grid becoming less reliable, access to backup power is essential for a home. Gone are the days of bulky, smelly, portable gas-powered generators: You can now have a neat, compact standby generator installed right next to your outdoor AC unit that can repower most of your home within seconds of losing electricity from the utility.
Additions: If done wisely and in a way that won’t price your home out of the local market, additions are valuable home improvements. Add a second story, expand into a master suite, enlarge the garage or create an extra bathroom for a busy household.