Good and bad renovations for your home's value

It's smart to put your best foot forward when you're selling your house, but not all 'improvements' will help make the sale.

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Sep 26, 2013 1:35PM

Here's a radical idea, keep it clean and neat and eliminate any odd colors in paint, repair what's broken and price it accurately.  Unless you're talking high end, the rest of that article is nonsense.

And most of us aren't in the market for million dollar homes.

Sep 9, 2013 10:19AM
They always say putting a pool in is the number one no no. When I was trying to buy a house with a pool , every house with a pool I put a bid on would go into a bidding war. It's not a good idea to put one in if you live in a norther climate, but in a southern climate everybody wants one. Especially when you can swim 8-9 months out of the year. Who wants to have to put up with screaming brats at a public pool.
Sep 26, 2013 3:13PM
All of this is assuming the house is going to be put on the market.  If it's not - live the way you want!!  I have a small condo, which I renovated to suit my taste and needs.  Nothing outlandish - flooring, wall color, some appliances and furniture.  EVERYONE - salespeople, contractor, decorator neighbor - said, "Oh, that won't be good for resale."  Well, that was 15 years ago.  I had no plans to sell then and I don't now.  So I should have forfeited my own preferences because sometime in the distant future when I die, my condo will change hands?  Really - don't let other people tell you how to decorate your own space - it's all you have that's YOU.
Sep 14, 2013 5:01PM

Here is the honest to goodness truth.  I have been a Realtor for 16 years, an appraiser for 12.  This is the real deal almost anywhere you are:


1.  Bathroom - we can't all rebuild it to recess anything into the wall.  Make sure grout is clean, a new toilet and vanity that fits the space, and the tub clean.  New fixtures if need be and paint.


2.  Floors - Can't afford hardwood?  Put in carpet if your carpet looks dirty or has individualized colors (mauve. hunter green, etc).  Beige is best and for God's sake DO NOT INSTALL LAMINATE!  The ship has sailed on that stuff and frankly it's now seen as cheap.


3.  Look at your home critically.  Have the furnace serviced, paint rooms neutral colors, clean the vents, landscape, and remove debris inside and out.  Work on your gutters and downspouts.  Remember the savvy buyer is going to have a home inspection.  The savvy buyer also wants a house that looks neat and clean.


Solar is if you're going to stay there and pools are really regional and seasonal.  Most of the people who write these articles bit and piece from other articles and wouldn't know a footer from a ridge vent.

Sep 26, 2013 1:50PM
As a Realtor and Appraiser I have to go along with the majority here.. Most of the assertions in this article are wrong. Kitchens are going to synthetic counters and white appliances. Updating the bath is a good thing for the resale market.. Just skip the pedestal sinks.. People like their storage.  Laminate looks cheap and is rarely installed properly. Real hardwood is nice but cold in the winter and hard to keep clean. I have the  heavy red oak flooring common to our market but it is covered with a good quality carpet and heavy pad. Wiring the house for sound or network is okay if you are building from scratch but not that many people are impressed with the partial sound systems left behind by a previous owner. It locks them into a specific configuration for a room that may not suite the buyer. The garage is another place to consider carefully. There are areas here where a spiffy garage is a major selling point and the converted garage is a negative.. The list goes on but here is the key: if you are fixing the house for yourself then ignore the popular advice and do what you will. If you are making changes to enhance the value keep it neutral. But mostly don't take advice from internet pundits.
Sep 15, 2013 6:30PM
Well, folks . . . these types of articles are designed to promote "fads" & "passing fancies."   Written by people who've never swung a hammer or replaced a shingle.  

Stainless appliances are already on the way OUT!  In five years, the "trendy" people will curl their noses and sneer, "How RETRO!"  By then, 70's avacado-green will be IN again!  I couldn't care two-cents what color my fridge is, as long as it keeps the Pilsner Urquell cold.  

And I'll put in a word for the traditional single-point American water heater, which does the job rather efficiently & economically.  You who swoon over multi-point, multi-tank systems (so EURO, don't you know), never mention the added mechanical complexity and multiplication of leakage joints, and the staggering initial cost, or how long it takes to recoup it.  

Yes, swimming pools are region-centric.  Here in Arizona they're very popular!  

Sep 16, 2013 9:31AM

When I had our home built in 2003 I picked a design where I could later convert our attached oversized two car garage (with room over it), to a large family room, and then add a new garage on the other side of that one.  I still think that will add overall value to my home.  I'll still have a garage (the new one), in addition to a huge family room (with a new handicap accessible bathroom.  For the interim, I plan on using the Family Room as a Mother-in-Law type apartment for my elderly mother - it will have two entrances to the main house, one directly into the kitchen, and one to the laundry room.  She'll have her own heat (she likes it warm in the winter), and we'll be right there to help her out.  When she does pass on, I'll have a very nice family room.


Sep 26, 2013 2:04PM
Ms/Mr. Average home seller can't afford the $50K remodel. Best to make good use of what you have, fresh paint in light neutral colors is cheap, dump the faded drapes, put down some nice washable bathroom rugs to hide faded vinyl floors. I'd take a spotless bright shiny all white kitchen over granite and stainless any day. Clean clean clean scrub scrub, the place needs to smell like soap & Lysol, keep the cat liter out of the house, shampoo carpets or if they are threadbare replace them with a mid-quality low nap simple style, get rid of the clutter, make the bed. Wood floors can be very slippery and in the kitchen and high traffic areas you soon learn that wood and water do NOT mix. A good quality vinyl is washable scrub-able and much more sanitary with pets and kids. Cut the grass, get rid of the junk cars, price it right based on the market reality, understand that your sentiment has zero value, select a good agent with an aggressive marketing program and it will move.
Sep 15, 2013 4:21PM
Not everyone has the funds to update their home and many upgrades offer negative return on investment especially in a weak housing market. I bought my home near the bottom of the market this round anyway. I don't know if there will be a round two collapse but I'm not discounting the possibility, then again we could revisit the Carter era and homes could skyrocket in price. I think a well maintained home is more important than any high dollar upgrade, but then again I am no expert. The best possible upgrade I can think of for any home is a paid off mortgage, after that making sure everything is maintained in like new condition would have the most impact. I replaced my old furnace and AC with high efficiency units and put in all new thermal windows that reflect the sun's rays, that's good in the summer but maybe negative in the winter. I think my timing in buying and cash payment on a home I could actually afford is the best possible upgrade of all. From there I will maintain it and do small do-it-yourself improvements that suit my lifestyle and desires. 
Sep 26, 2013 2:22PM
This is a mostly common-sense list but I disagree with "Renovation Do No. 5: Install built-in speakers". Built-in technology may appear cool when new, but quickly becomes obsolete in a fast-moving market and is a burden to the homeowner. Buyer beware! Do you remember the "in wall" speakers wired behind the walls to multiplex systems..."why does the wall have a cloth-covered hole in it...?"
Sep 26, 2013 1:49PM
I did not like any of the designs they had here. I would go neutral, comfy and cozy. Whoever buys it can change what they want.
Sep 26, 2013 4:50PM

Here's some advice. Do not ever redo your home to sell it. It some rooms need touch up pain, especially baseboard and molding do that.  Makes things look clean and great.  Wash the windows and get your clutter picked up and closets organized.  Thats it.  Buyers will do their own thing. You will not make enough money in the sale. Make it look clean and lived in.  After all you do live there don't you.

Been selling houses by owner for 40 years so I know what works.  Keep it simple and cheap.

Sep 9, 2013 9:52AM
Speaking as someone who is both designs house for a living and as a new home owner: I do NOT want stainless steel appliance (they show fingerprints). 

Granite (having a compressive strength of roughly 26,000 psi) should be doing actual work (i.e. in the foundation). 

Wood flooring, provided it is REAL wood (with actual end-grain) is a good thing...unfortunately a bit on the pricy side though.

And let us not forget about basic materials theory, materials should be stacked in a building in the same order they're found in nature (msonry at the bottom, wood in the middle, and soft fibrous materials (leaves in nature) on the top.

Sep 14, 2013 4:41PM
The updates given in this list only matters if you wish to sell in a downwards spiraling housing market or if you are in a 'ok' community.
But, when the market is up, houses are sold like 'hot cakes'... period.

Sep 26, 2013 2:55PM
Our house has wall to wall hardwood flooring.  Do you know how much noise that makes?  If a kid drops a dime in their bedroom, it echos throughout the entire house.  I so miss the warmth of carpeting.  When a couple kids move out all the bedrooms and living room is getting carpet. Can't wait.
Sep 26, 2013 3:29PM
First impressions are more important than anything since buyers aren't exactly hanging out for hours on end looking at every single little minute detail in a room.  A house on the market should be clean, rooms shouldn't be cluttered with too much furniture, and for the average person, an upgraded/modern kitchen with new appliances but additional rooms in the house in dire need of an upgrade means wasted money on the homeowners part overall.  

Much of this list is pointless anyway because it would be up to the realtor to understand the buyer they are representing, and understand what they are looking for.  If the buyers have no interest in a pool, then the realtor shouldn't be showing homes with a pool.  If the buyers are looking for a fixer-upper to save some money, showing them a house with a newly renovated kitchen seems pointless as well.  This list would be one thing if you are selling a million dollar home.  With that level of price comes an expectation of everything being perfectly done and pristine.  For the other 99% of homebuyers, its really more important that the house is clean, rooms look lived in but not cluttered, and the homeowners are nowhere in sight when buyers are checking out the house.
Sep 16, 2013 2:23PM
The cost to upgrade was $50k and approx.6 weeks work.  We priced the house $20 lower than market and dropped it another $10k in sales concession and it sold in 12 days.  Something to think about when you want to get out fast. 
Sep 9, 2013 9:13AM

I know 3 different realtors and all of them have swimming pools.

Sep 26, 2013 4:35PM
I hate stainless, granite and neutral colors as do many people I know.  This is the HGTV version of what everyone wants.  I'm more interested in a new roof, updated electrical, recently inspected furnace, not in a flood zone, solid foundation and quiet neighbors.  Those are the things that matter.  People who are more interested in the "right" appliance and not a good appliance that's clean and works are idiots.
Sep 15, 2013 3:51PM
Going Green.... seems like a good thing, Should be a good thing, ... BUT... the BANKS don't like it!
If you have anything that seems like a good thing (as in going Green), they say you are off the grid and they won't lend you money to refinance or renovate.  You MUST be connected to Public Utilities, has to do with guidelines set by/for Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac.  

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