Remodeling Cost vs. Value: 10 Cheap Fixes
With home price gains slowing in most parts of the country, sellers will be looking for ways to get top dollar for their listing. Cleaning and staging make a big difference. But for some sellers—such as investors seeking to bring a property up to neighborhood standards before the sale—remodeling work may be the ticket.
What Is the Cost vs. Value Report?
The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, produced by Remodeling magazine in cooperation with the National Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® Magazine, provides estimated costs for 36 midrange or upscale home-improvement projects, along with the percentage of cost that owners can expect to recoup when they sell. Projects range from a new garage door to a master suite addition.
Project costs for the 102 markets surveyed for the 2015 report were provided by RemodelMax, a publisher of estimating tools for remodelers, using Clear Estimates remodeling software. NAR members provided the expected value of the projects at resale.
To learn more and see all 36 projects broken down by region and market area, visit Remodeling at CostvsValue.com.
As the 2015 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report makes clear, large-scale jobs aren’t likely to return sellers their full cost. But there are improvements worth doing in anticipation of an upcoming sale. Some will return almost 100 percent of their cost. Others may not have as great a payback, but they can improve the market position of the property in relation to the competition. (Think about the impact of beautiful kitchen photos on online home shoppers.) In addition, several pricier projects can provide owners with a few years of enjoyment while still offering a decent payback down the road.
As a general rule:
- Simpler, lower-cost projects tend to return greater value. The national average cost for a steel door replacement was $1,230, for example. That’s the least expensive project on the list, and it ranks highest on the payback scale, returning 101.8 percent nationally on average. In fact, in 43 of the 102 markets surveyed, REALTORS® said the new door would recoup more than 100 percent of its cost. Other projects expected to top 100 percent payback in multiple markets: the midrange garage door replacement, the upscale garage door replacement, the midrange wood window replacement, and the minor kitchen remodel. Notice a pattern? With the exception of the kitchen job, they’re all replacement projects. In general, replacements cost less and provide a bigger payback than remodels or additions.
- First impressions are important. The replacements that offer the greatest payback are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door. Siding replacement also provides great value at resale—particularly this year’s one new project, manufactured stone veneer, which is expected to recoup 92.2 percent of its cost nationally on average.
- Kitchens still offer the most remodeling bang for the buck. The only remodeling job breaking into the top 10 in terms of payback is the minor kitchen remodel with a national average cost of $19,226 and a national average payback of 79.3 percent.
Top 5 projects nationally in terms of cost recouped:
1. Entry door replacement (101.8%)
2. Manufactured stone veneer (92.2%)
3. Garage door replacement—mid-range (88.5%)
4. Siding replacement, fiber cement (84.3%)
5. Garage door replacement—upscale (82.5%)
- Expect bigger payoffs in the West. In addition to reporting national averages, Remodeling magazine breaks down Cost vs. Value data by Census region. In the Pacific region—which includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington—six projects are expected to top 100 percent payback. The nearest competitor is the East South Central region—Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee—where two projects are expected to top 100 percent payback.
Just how much sellers can expect to recoup from home improvements depends on the job and the region of the country they live in. There are also factors that vary from house to house and sale to sale, such as what updates are typical for the neighborhood, the quality of the work, and how important the improvement is to a particular buyer. And while you can’t apply this data directly to any specific house or neighborhood, you can use the Cost vs. Value Report as a starting point in discussions with buyers and sellers about the cost and value of remodeling.
10 cheap fixes to boost the value of your home
Looking for ways to spruce up your home without putting yourself in the poorhouse? Whether you’re getting ready to sell your home or want to spiff it up inexpensively for your own enjoyment, we’ve got 10 good strategies for you to consider.
The actual cost and payback for each project can vary, depending on both your home’s condition and overall real estate market values in your region of the country.
Boost your home’s value
These simple upgrades can easily add thousands of dollars to your home’s value.
10 cheap fixes
- Make your kitchen really cook.
- Give appliances a facelift.
- Buff up the bath.
- Step up your storage.
- Add a room in a week or less.
- Mind the mechanics.
- Look underfoot.
- Let there be light.
- Reframe your entry.
- Consider curb appeal.
1. Make your kitchen really cook.
The kitchen is still considered the heart of the home. Potential home buyers make a beeline for this room when they first view a home for sale, so make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated.
For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones.
If you’ve got a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. “Rather than spring for a whole new cabinet system, which can be expensive, look into hiring a refacing company,” says serial remodeler Gwen Moran, co-author of “Build Your Own Home on a Shoestring.”
“Many companies can remove cabinet doors and drawers, refinish the cabinet boxes, then add brand-new doors and drawers. With a fresh coat of paint over the whole set, your cabinets will look like new.”
If you’re handy, you can order your own replacement cabinet doors and door fronts from retailers like Lowe’s Home Improvement or The Home Depot and install them yourself.
2. Give appliances a facelift.
If your kitchen appliances don’t match, order new doors or face panels for them. When Nicole Persley, a Realtor in Boca Raton, Fla., was sprucing up her own home to sell, her mix-and-match kitchen bothered her. The room had a white dishwasher, microwave and wall oven mixed with other pieces that were stainless steel with black trim.
When Persley called the dishwasher manufacturer to see about ordering a new, black face panel, the customer service representative clued her in on a big secret: Many dishwasher panels are white on one side and black on the other.
“All I had to do was unscrew two screws, slide out the panel and flip it around. Sure enough — it was black on the other side!”
Persley, who has remodeled numerous homes for resale, says that a more cohesive-looking kitchen makes a big difference in the buyer’s mind — and in the home’s resale price.
3. Buff up the bath.
Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. “Even simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference in the look of the bath,” says Moran.
Moran also suggests replacing an old, discolored bathroom floor with easy-to-apply vinyl tiles or a small piece of sheet vinyl. “You may not even need to take up the old floor. You can install the new floor right over the old one,” she says.
If your tub and shower are looking dingy, consider re-grouting the tile and replacing any chipped tiles. A more complete cover-up is a prefabricated tub and shower surround. These one-piece units may require professional installation but can still be cheaper than paying to re-tile walls and refinish a worn tub.
4. Step up your storage.
Old houses, particularly, are notorious for their lack of closet space. If you have cramped storage areas, Realtor Moe Viessi of Miami suggests adding do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entry closets.Firms like ClosetMaid allow you to measure and redesign your closets online. You can also get design details and parts for these systems at many large home-improvement stores. Most closets can be updated in a weekend or less.In the end, your closets will be more functional while you’re living in the house and will make your home look more customized to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell.
5. Add a room in a week or less.
“If you have a three-bedroom house with a den, the only reason the den can’t be considered a bedroom may be because it doesn’t have a closet,” says Persley. “If you add a closet to that room, you’ve now got a four-bedroom house. That adds a lot of value.”
Persley says it’s usually possible to add a custom closet system and drywall it in for less than $1,500.
6. Mind the mechanics.
Finley Perry of F.H. Perry Builder in Hopkinton, Mass., advocates spending a few bucks on nitty-gritty stuff. “It’s often very worthwhile to hire an electrician and plumber for a couple of hours to look over your electrical services, wrap or fix loose wires, fix any faulty outlets, and check for and fix any water leaks,” Perry says. “Those details tell a buyer that someone has really taken care of the home and can really influence its price.”
7. Look underfoot.
Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your rugs are in good shape and are neutral colors.
If your carpet is showing serious wear, cover it with inexpensive, strategically placed area rugs. Unless it is truly hideous, most real estate agents don’t suggest replacing wall-to-wall carpeting right before you sell your house. The new homeowners may want to choose their own carpeting after they move in.
8. Let there be light.
If you have boring recessed lights in your dining and living rooms, consider replacing one of the room’s lights with an eye-catching chandelier. Home stores offer a wide range of inexpensive, but nice-looking, ceiling fixtures these days. If you have a ceiling fan and light, you can also buy replacement fan blades (leaving the fan body in place) to update the fixture’s look.
9. Reframe your entry.
Do you have a flimsy little knob on your main entry door? If so, spring for a substantial-looking handle-and-lock set. “A nice, big piece of hardware on the front door signals to newcomers that this is a solid home,” says Viessi.
Also, if you’re stuck with a basic steel front door, Persley suggests painting or faux-finishing it for more eye appeal. “It’s becoming a trend in Florida to add wood-grain doors to a home’s entry or garage. The good news, though, is that you can easily paint existing metal doors with stain and paint,” she says.
After using a good metal primer, Persley gives the door a base coat of paint (again, be sure to use one approved for use over metal). For a cherry wood look, Persley uses a burgundy base paint. After it dries, she brushes over the base coat with a cherry wood stain. “It really looks amazing, and it only takes a few hours,” she says.
10. Consider curb appeal.
Although it sounds obvious, a nicely mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs and a swept walkway makes a great first impression. “What buyers see when they first drive by your home is tremendously important,” says Viessi.
If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. “These kinds of changes can instantly change people’s perception of your home and, therefore, increase its value,” says Viessi. And hey, your neighbors will love you for it, too.
Is Staging your home Important?
Home staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even motivate them to pay more, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2015 Profile of Home Staging, a survey of more than 2,300 REALTORS® representing buyers and sellers.
Eighty-one percent of REALTORS® who represent buyers say that staged homes make it easier for their home buyers to visualize a property as their future home. Forty-six percent of buyer agents also reported that staging makes their buyers more willing to tour a home they viewed online, and 45 percent say that buyers tend to view the value of the home more positively if it is decorated to buyers’ tastes.
Twenty-eight percent of agents said their buyers are even more willing to overlook other property faults if a home is staged, according to NAR’s survey.
Buyer agents also say that staging can potentially influence how much their buyers are willing to offer for a home. According to the survey, thirty-two percent of buyer agents surveyed say that staged homes increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer for a home by 1 percent to 5 percent; 16 percent said it could increase offers by 6 percent to 10 percent.
However, not everyone chooses to stage a home in prepping it for sale. Forty-four percent of seller agents say they only suggest that sellers declutter and fix property faults, and they do not recommend that their clients should professionally stage the home.
Indeed, about 34 percent of seller agents surveyed say they stage all the homes they list; 13 percent stage only “difficult” homes to sell; and 4 percent only stage high-priced homes they list, according to the NAR survey.
Here are additional findings from the NAR survey:
- The median dollar value to stage a home: $675 per home
- Among homes that are staged, here’s how it is often paid for: 62 percent of sellers’ agents offer the home staging servicing to sellers; 39 percent say that the sellers pay for staging prior to the home being listed; 10 percent of sellers pay for staging after the home is sold; and 3 percent of agents’ firms pay for the home staging service.
- The three most important rooms to be staged for buyers: living room, kitchen, and master bedroom.
A huge misconception that exists when it comes to selling your home is that home staging costs a ton of money. While home staging can cost a ton of money, it doesn’t have to! Staging a home on a budget can be done. It can easily be done.
Clean and Declutter
Clean everything. The golden rule of home staging is make it look like no one lives here. Make it look like a model home. People don’t want to see a moldy bathroom tile or a dirty tub. Wipe down those fingerprints on the wall. Cleaning tasks include washing windows, removing cobwebs, polishing floors, vacuuming carpets, and scrubbing appliances…. pretend mom is coming to town. No pet hair, no dirt, no cobwebs, no grease.
Smells. No one likes smells….well baking cookies is OK. Smelling your cigarettes or Fido or Miss Kittie is not OK. This may require an intervention. Bring in a 3rd party to determine if this is a problem. Then we can talk options.
Then you should remove as many personal belongings as possible. This may mean cleaning off the calendar magnets on the refrigerator or taking down the family photos that are occupying your entire living room. Less is more. Kitchen counters should be empty. Bathroom counters empty. Toys gone. Make it look like no one lives here. The primary reason to remove personal belongings when staging a home on a budget is because prospective buyers can become distracted when viewing a home by these belongings. You want them to envision themselves in the house not your cute kids.
Move the Furniture you have
Remove large pieces of furniture. Open up the space. As you’re rearranging your furniture you want to make sure you can move freely around the room, remove the pieces of furniture that are preventing you from doing so. Dressers can be removed to make bedrooms look bigger.
Keep the colors Neutral
I love red…but red walls are a bad idea. Use neutral colors such as grays and tans and beiges and creams. You don’t want to make a statement. If you want accents use pillows or towels.
Improve the lighting
Put new bulbs in the fixtures. Maybe buy a few new lamps. The goal is to make the house light and bright…not moody or sexy. T est your homes lighting…. turn on all of the lights in your home while it’s dark outside and walk room to room and see if your able to see clearly in the room. Wen you have a showing open all the curtains and turn on all the lights.
Put fresh bedding on beds. Put clean towels in the bathroom. Put vases on the table. Books on the table.
Use the rule of 3–Interior designers swear by this golden rule of home staging, which involves grouping items—from chairs to lighting to artwork and accessories—in threes (or fives or sevens or nines).
Create a focal point. Walk into any well-staged home, and you’ll notice great accent accessories positioned near a room’s best attributes. For example, a grouping of (three!) vases near a gorgeous fireplace or a large plant near a window with a view.
Use color. Weaving the same pops of color throughout your home allows your space to flow cohesively from one room to the next.
Hanging curtain rods just below the ceiling (as opposed to above the window) adds the illusion of height to an otherwise average-size room.
Ditch the TV. Do you ever see a TV in Model homes?
Are you curious about a how much your home will sell for? CLICK HERE!
Tricks to Help Your Bathroom Sell Your House
Tricks not really. If you want to sell your house the kitchen and the master bath are two major selling features. You can do a lot with a little to sell your house. You may not have a ‘spa’ bathroom but simple things like towels, flowers accessories create an atmosphere that will sell your house. Do these items come with the house? How can they affect the sale. Once again you want to create a setting people can relate to. An image of luxury and comfort….pampering. This image then persuades the buyer that they want this atmosphere and must buy your home and make it their own and then you sell your house!.
Buyers love the allure of a fresh, beautiful bathroom that reminds them of luxury hotels or soothing spas they have enjoyed. And, most important, buyers want to envision themselves enjoying this luxury every day in their new home.However, the reality is that most of us do not have the perfect bathroom. And we know that, in most instances, it is not a wise investment to do a full, costly renovation just for a home sale. It simply doesn’t translate into profit.A better strategy is to maximize what you already have, on a budget. You want to transform your real-life, everyday bathroom into a five-star hotel experience that prospective buyers will love, without overcapitalizing. Here are simple ways to create havens with a wow factor.
Clear the counters and remove all signs that you live there–
Clear off the counters to create a blank canvas.
Remove all of your everyday toiletries and bathroom supplies. This includes soaps, toothbrushes, cotton balls — everything. (And don’t forget the products in the shower.) Buyers do not want to see your personal hygiene products. In fact, this can make them feel as though they are intruding on your personal space, which can be distracting and a little awkward.
Get rid of cleaning products.
Remove all items that imply housework and maintenance, such as toilet brushes, wastepaper baskets, sponges, cleaning products, bath mats — even spare toilet rolls. These are a necessary part of everyday living, but they do not create a beautiful spa-like experience for your buyers.Tip: Remove the bathroom scale, too. Remember, your buyers want a luxurious bathroom experience, not a reminder of those extra pounds they are trying to lose.
Maximize your storage.
Storage space sells. Your buyers will be looking inside your bathroom cupboards to see how much space they offer. Make sure they are only half to two-thirds full and well organized. Store the little things you use every day (hair elastics, lip gloss) in a pretty box or basket with a lid to avoid a tidal wave of trinkets on the shelves.Tip: If you’re running out of space to store your toiletries, keep the overflow in simple wicker baskets. When buyers are coming to inspect your home, just grab the baskets and stash them somewhere else.
Make minor upgrades.
Rather than spending many thousands completely renovating your bathroom, it’s much smarter to spend your money only where it will show and to make small, inexpensive upgrades that will create a large impact. As a general rule, improvements that can’t easily be seen don’t translate into a higher sale price.The best bang-for-your-buck bathroom upgrades are: repainting the walls, replacing leaking and worn taps, updating the cabinet hardware, installing new light fittings and updating towel bars.Note: In some bathrooms it’s also worth considering changing the tiles (large white tiles always make a bathroom feel more spacious and contemporary), replacing shower screens and investing in new cabinetry and countertops. This is often warranted in a higher-priced property, where buyers are looking for (and expecting) a higher level of bathroom luxury.
Clean thoroughly. So simple!! Clean.
Clean everything to within an inch of its life. No, it’s certainly not exciting, but it’s super important. Buyers will pay a premium for new, so your aim is to create a new feel. Everything must be immaculate, as this creates the impression that your home has been well maintained and well loved.
Hang luxurious towels.
Any bathroom can be instantly transformed by adding beautiful, soft towels. New is best (once towels have been washed, they never look quite the same). So it’s a great idea to keep your new towels just for display only. Pack them away between buyer inspections and reinstate them just before the prospective buyers arrive.
Thick, white, luxurious towels always work well, and there are some beautiful textured options. Funky, brightly colored towels are popular at the moment too; for a more dramatic effect, you could consider adding a splash of bold color.
If there is a lot of extra counter space, you can also place a neatly folded pile of two or three matching towels on the vanity or side of the bath for extra luxury.
Stick with neutrals.
If you are going to repaint your walls, upgrade your tiles or invest in new cabinetry, it’s always a good idea to keep to a neutral palette for these larger elements, as it will appeal to more buyers. If you want to add some fresh color, use towels and accessories.
Beautify with accessories.
Now that you have cleared away your personal bathroom products, bring in a few well-chosen accessories to add a layer of warmth, elegance and luxury. Think about creating a spa-like experience with accessories in tranquil, soft colors. Include fragrant soaps, bath oils, natural loofahs and candles.It’s important to display these products as groupings rather than scattering them around the room; scattered products can look like clutter. Less is better. Think simplicity. You may want to consider using a wooden tray as a base and group items together in odd numbers. Vary the height of candles and jars, too.
Use flowers for impact.
Fresh flowers and plants make any space come alive, and the bathroom is no exception. They make a dramatic impact, adding instant color and texture. Orchids are always a favorite in bathrooms; however, here’s no need to always buy huge bouquets. In a smaller room, a single stem of your favorite bloom, a small planter or even a branch with beautiful leaves placed in a jar will look understated and elegant.
Add a stool or an ottoman.
To create the ultimate private-hotel-suite look for your buyers, add a beautiful decor piece that is functional as well. Put a stool beside the bathtub and add neatly folded face and hand towels, soap, a candle, potted plants or even a good book. You could also use other beautiful occasional pieces of furniture, such as a marble side table, a long ottoman stacked with fresh towels or a bamboo ladder, to add extra style and take your room to another level.