You are thinking about buying an older house, and you know would take a lot of work to fix it up the way you want, but it just has that rustic look you can’t turn away from. However, fixer-uppers either go one of two ways, save you a ton of money, or throw you down a financial rabbit hole—It all depends on where you put your money.
Whether you’re an experienced real estate investor flipping houses, or just upgrading the home for your own sake, it’s important to keep your local real estate market in mind for what sells and what doesn’t. If you’re in a neighborhood of houses with certain features that buyers want, but you don’t have, your home will likely be stuck on the market until you make some changes. Unless you drop the price of your home to accommodate for the cost of a buyer installing these features, which is typically over estimated, you may need to consider some of these home improvement projects.
Here are the top home improvement projects with the highest return on investment in real estate.
The Curb Appeal
The first impression of your home is essential. It is typical for anxious buyers to drive by listed homes to take a quick look from the curb before calling for a showing. This curb appeal is what gets buyers through the door.
1. Remove overgrown bushes and trees. Clear out the front yard for a clear, unobstructed view of the front door and windows. Add some colorful, inexpensive flowers to brighten up the yard and make it feel more inviting.
2. Consider repainting the exterior if you have wood siding. Repainting is typically a worth-while investment that would add the most value for your dollar. Neutral colors, such as warm beige, are what sell. If you’re lucky enough to have stucco, sometimes all it takes is a good power wash to make it look like new again.
3. Paint the front door and inviting color and the house trim bright white. This will give your home a fresh new look.
Once buyers make it past your yard, the very next thing they typically look at is the kitchen. Buyers can fall in love with every other part of your home, but if the kitchen is under par, they’ll rethink how they feel about the home and move-on with their search.
1. Think about the design. Most new homes have open floor plans, and has become somewhat standard in real estate. If the kitchen is too small or feels a bit cramped, can it be as simple as taking down a wall to open it up to the family room? Removing a wall isn’t as big of an undertaking as you might think, and it wouldn’t cost a lot of money compared to other projects.
2. Your next priority should be the countertops. This is not the place to go cheap. Buyers love, and almost demand, granite countertops. There is a wide range of colors to choose from, but be sure to pick a color that contrasts with the cabinets.
3. Speaking of cabinets, don’t just jump to the conclusion that they need to be replaced. You could save thousands to simply reface or refinish them if they’re in good shape, while still transforming the look of the kitchen. If there’s no hope in the cabinets and need to be replaced, consider buying lower to mid-grade cabinets and put the money you saved toward the granite countertops. A nice countertop that compliments the cabinets is a major selling point.
4. Last, but not least, is the floors. Cheap vinyl flooring is a major turn off for buyers and if that is what you have, it must be replaced before even thinking about selling your home. Your new flooring should be a neutral colored hardwood or stone-like tile. Whatever you choose, NEVER install a light-colored floor. Light colors highlight any dirt, stains, or scratches and make them stand out like a sore thumb.
The bathrooms are another area that buyers are known to critique. Buyers just want bathrooms to be bright, clean, and modern. It doesn’t take a lot to turn a bathroom into a selling point for your investment property either.
1. The biggest selling point of your bathroom is the enclosure around the shower or bathtub. Dollars spent on these walls will typically generate the highest return on investment. Buyers will quickly forget how great your home is if they walk into a bathroom with ugly tile, and especially vinyl panels. Again, going for the modern look, replace the outdated material with a neutral colored tile, like stone or travertine.
2. This is the next thing buyers look at when they enter the bathroom is the sink and vanity. It doesn’t cost too much to transform your bathroom with a new sink and vanity, so it’s an easy place to add value to your home. Keep in mind your local market when you pick out the colors and models though. If the local real estate market is full of single, first-time homebuyers like the Bozeman area, something modern or trendy like a glass or copper sink would be the best bet.
3. If the toilet looks old or outdated, replace it. Don’t bother scrubbing it down or buying a new toilet seat, just buy a new toilet. New toilets are worth the investment and simply sells better.
The roof is particularly an area of concern in neighborhoods with a history of heavy hailstorms, such as Bozeman, Montana. Roof damage can lead to major mold problems down the road, and buyers would almost never even consider buying a house with a roof in bad condition.
1. The typical life expectancy of a roof ranges anywhere from 15 to 30 years. If your roof is reaching the end of its run, you should have inspector look at it for any needed repairs.
2. If an inspector approves the condition of the roof, or you already had it repaired by a roofing expert (it’s essential to hire someone with experience), keep record of the receipts and documents to give peace of mind to the buyer.