Which Home Improvements Are Worth It?
Buying real estate in the Bay Area means one thing – compromise. Even with large budgets, buyers encounter tiny rooms, small yards, limited bathrooms and outdated fixtures. Truly move-in-ready properties are rare, and even when you do find one, they are pricey and most buyers want to add their own touches.
On average, home owners sell about every five to seven years, so the odds are, that the personal touches you put on your home will need to appeal to a new buyer in a few years. So, how does a homebuyer strike a balance between what pleases them and what will please future buyers?
The age-old question is, would you rather own the nicest home on the block or the worst home on a nice block? Ideally, you’d probably be somewhere in the middle, but for resale value, it’s better (within reason) to own the worst home on a nice block. In other words, being the only home in the neighborhood with expensive finishes may not win you buyers. Or, as the adage goes, location, location, location.
For both livability and for curb appeal, a good roof is a good place to start. In California, tile roofs are popular, but solar can add thousands of dollars in value to your home. If you aren’t a fan of solar panels, solar shingles and solar tiles are also an option, but they have their downsides.
Of course, a good coat of paint goes a long way toward salability, but within reason. You might want to hold off on painting your home 49ers red, Raiders black or Giants orange. If your home’s siding is sun worn, replacement will give you about even money. You’ll get about what you put into it. Replacement windows return about 80% of the money and they’ll save you a lot of money while you’re living there.
When prospective buyers are looking at the inside of a home, the rooms that really draw them are the kitchen and bathrooms, but don’t go overboard. Stainless appliances are a plus, but chef’s quality appliances only return value if they are fairly standard in the neighborhood. Most buyers these days look for granite countertops and for updated cabinetry, but keep the colors neutral.
A lot of California homes are older and are short on bathrooms. If you have a four bedroom, one bath home, you might be better off losing a bedroom and adding a master suite, with a modern bathroom and a walk-in closet. Of course, the ideal would be to add on to the house or find room elsewhere.
Today’s modern bathrooms have granite countertops, big showers (possibly with steam) and big tubs. Most couples want double sinks and plenty of counter space. The master bath is generally more important than the guest baths, although both should look updated.
The most important thing, obviously, is to please yourself first. If you really love to cook and you want to buy incredibly high-end appliances, then buy them. Unless you are flipping a home, resale value shouldn’t be the only factor, but do your research first. If your home has two bedrooms, it’s probably not a good idea to take it down to just one, even if you do gain a master suite. Check with your realtor before adding a pool. Pools can even devalue a home.