6 Upgrades That Give You the Best Bang For Your Buck
Strategic upgrades will give you the biggest return on your investment.
Selling your home? A few classic — and relatively inexpensive — changes can make a big difference when it comes to how much you’re able to collect from potential buyers. If you want maximum effect for maximum profit, these six strategic upgrades will give you the biggest return on your investment:
Realtors will tell you time and time again: kitchens and baths (see No. 2) are what sell a home. A dated kitchen can be a big turnoff, so make sure yours is updated and inviting. When it comes to spiffing up your kitchen for resale, you don’t need to splurge to get buyers’ attention. All you need to do is bring the space to the point of “builder-grade luxury” — stainless steel appliances instead of basic white, for example, and granite countertops instead of laminate. Yes, you could theoretically spend almost any amount on appliances and granite, but remember: You’re going for “builder-grade.” That means you should install an affordable variety of granite countertop (such as Napoli, Baltic Brown or St. Cecilia) with a basic beveled edge. Don’t splurge on higher-end cuts of granite or more ornate beveling; leave that for your own personal custom home. Want to do a kitchen remodel on the cheap? Simply refinish and repaint the cabinetry and add updated hardware (such as new hinges and handles). That alone can transform the look of the room. Whatever you do, opt for colors and styles that are likely to appeal to the widest range of homebuyers. You may adore the idea of a bright red retro kitchen, but it could seriously put off some buyers.
When it comes to bathrooms, many buyers want the “spa” experience so help them envision themselves relaxing in the tub. First, let’s start with basic upgrades, like replacing old, pink 3×3 ceramic tile with modern pieces. (For an inexpensive tile, try white subway-style ceramic, or opt for 12×12 porcelain in a neutral tone.) Replacing your plastic tub surround with a tiled shower also makes a big difference, and for about an extra $100 – $150, you can also add a recessed alcove (a built-in wall niche). As with a kitchen remodel, you want to consider which changes will have maximum impact. You may not need to replace that old pedestal sink. Instead, you can just change out the faucet fixture — upgrade from brass to chrome — and hang some luxurious towels next to it. You may not need to replace the quirky floor tile if you choose a new paint color for the walls that will play it up, rather than clash with it. Make sure the colors and styles you choose are as universally appealing as possible. Neutral colors never offend. If you want a dash of extra character, light blues, serene greens, and fresh pops of white are your best bet for an inviting bathroom. (A few well-placed candles and fancy soaps don’t hurt, either.)
One of the easiest upgrades to achieve the “wow” factor is to simply repaint your rooms. Neutral shades like whites, creams, and tans will help buyers envision themselves in your space, since these read as more of a “blank canvas” than bolder shades. Earth tones will help mute any “louder” furniture you may have and can play well with hardwood floors. A surprising pop of bright color, like a cheerful yellow, can help brighten up small, dark spaces like half-baths and alcoves.
Like paint color, good flooring can drastically change the look and feel of your rooms. Hardwood is always appealing to a wide range of buyers, as are high-quality laminate options and affordable, eco-friendly choices like bamboo and cork. If you’ve got hardwood under your carpeting, your best bet is to restore it. If you already have exposed hardwood floors but they’re looking a little worse for wear, it’s time to invest in a good sanding and refinishing. Kitchens and baths do well with tile or laminate flooring, which are both visually appealing and easy to clean. Carpeting is still acceptable in bedrooms, especially if it’s plush, in great condition, and in a neutral color. But more and more buyers are turning away from carpeting altogether, so if you’re in doubt about whether to replace your carpets or install different flooring, hardwood (or its more-affordable cousin, bamboo) is your best bet.
Staging helps buyers imagine themselves living there. It’s also relatively inexpensive — you can often just rearrange the furniture you already have to make it show better. First, make sure your home is free of clutter. Remove any overly personal touches (like family photos or children’s artwork on the fridge). Arrange furniture is in a way that flows well — buyers will feel claustrophobic if they need to navigate around big pieces as they move from room to room. In your living room, arrange seating and tables into inviting “conversation” areas. Designate spaces for particular tasks, like placing an armchair in that empty bedroom nook to frame it as a cozy reading spot. Make sure all areas of a room are well-lit and that your accessories and artwork are the right scale for the space.
6. Curb Appeal
Don’t neglect the outside of your home — if buyers don’t like what they see when they first pull up, they may not even step inside to see all the great work you’ve done. To make the outside of your home as appealing as possible, make sure all walkways are clear, the landscaping is neat and tidy, and everything is in good repair. This may mean repainting your siding, fixing those loose shutters, and finally sealing those cracks in the driveway. Or it could be as simple as mowing the lawn, blowing the leaves, and planting a few colorful annuals. Add one or two “homey” final touches, like an festive wreath on the front door, a new welcome mat, and an outdoor seating area. Your home will feel extra-inviting — and just may get a quick offer.