Not all home improvements are created equal. These will reward you the most when it comes time to sell.
Your home is in the perfect location, came at the perfect price, with the perfect lot. (Yay southern exposure!)
But the home itself? Perfect isn’t the adjective you’d use. But you knew that moving in, and now you’re ready to start making it just right.
But where to begin? How about with data? Data is that friend who tells you like it really is.
Because while any home improvement that brings you joy is priceless, not all add as much home equity as you might expect.
The “Remodeling Impact Report” from the National Association of REALTORS® has tons of data on how much improvements cost — and how much of those costs you can recoup.
Here are the best seven home remodeling projects with equity-building might:
#1 New Roof
If you find yourself sprinting for the buckets when it starts to sprinkle, getting a new roof should be your No. 1 to-do. Measuring rainfall from the indoors isn’t cool.
The cost: $7,500
The return: 109% at $8,150
Considering it’s what’s between you and the elements, it’s a no-brainer.
Not sure if you need a new roof? Signs you might include:
Shingles are missing, curling up, or covered in moss.
Gritty bits from the asphalt shingles are coming out the downspout.
The sun’s shining through your attic.
You notice stains on ceilings and walls.
Your energy bill is sky high.
#2 Hardwood Floors
You flip on the TV to see that your fave home reno-ing duo is it at again, flipping a ranch that’s stuck in the ‘80s.
They make it to the living room, pull back the dingy carpet to reveal hardwood floors in great condition. They’re psyched — and for good reason.
Hardwood floors are a timeless classic. Refinishing is a no-brainer. Neither will you regret adding new hardwood floors if you have none.
The cost to refinish: $2,500
The return: 100% at $2,500
The cost to buy new: $5,500
The return: 91% at $5,000
#3 New Garage Door
No surprise that a garage door replacement project made it onto this #winning list — a new garage door provides a big boost for your home’s curb appeal at a relatively modest cost.
The cost: $2,300 (for a two-door)
The return: 87% at $2,000
There are options galore, too. A host of factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel, and glass window insets are just some of the possibilities that’ll give your doors bankable personality.
#4 Better Insulation
Insulation is tucked out of sight, so it’s often out of mind — that is, until you’re forced to wear your parka indoors because it’s sooo darn cold.
The cost: $2,100
The return: 76% at $1,600 (plus the added savings on heating and cooling costs!)
#5 New Siding
In any color! And never paint again.
Those are two of the three benefits of vinyl siding. The third, of course, is your home’s value.
But if long-time homeowners look at you funny when you mention vinyl siding, just tell them that today’s vinyl is way better than what they remember because of fade-resistant finishes and transferable lifetime warranties.
The cost: $13,350
The return: 75% at $10,000
Want fiber-cement siding instead? It also shows a strong payback of 83%. Although it’s the pricier option — you’ll spend about $18,000 with a payback of about $15,000 — it has one thing vinyl still lacks — the perception of quality.
And quality matters. In a survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “quality” was the one of the most important traits that home buyers focused on when house hunting.
Anne Arntsonis a Virginia-based writer who’s looking for a historic property to call her first home – the creakier the wood floors, the better.
One of the most busy times of the year for Skagit County is right around the corner, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival brings admirers from all across the country. Not to mention, from all over the world. I do think us locals tend to take for granted, the beauty that surrounds us everyday! Which is obviously why it brings thousands of people threw here during the month of April. I am going to attach a link that will provide tons of information so you can make the most of your visit while you are here visiting. https://tulipfestival.org/
Like telling your lights to turn on and off when you’re miles away.
Your home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.
Whether it’s the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it’s a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.
You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here’s how.
#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)
Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer — on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.
You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Caséta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and “talk” to your lights from afar.
#2 Fake a Netflix Binge
Nothing says “we are definitely home” like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.
Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that’s exactly what your home will say to passersby.
The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.
#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely
Leave your window shades down while you’re gone and you might as well put out a “Gone Fishin’” sign.
Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems — including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena — that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.
#4 Make Some Noise
Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home — they’re a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you’re just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.
#5 Make Them Ring And Run
“Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they’ll go around back and kick in the door,” says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).
If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it’s your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, “I’m in the basement” while you’re really on the slopes. They’ll never know. And even if they don’t believe you, they know they’re being watched (insert devilish laugh here).
#6 Try a No-Tech Technique
Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:
Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
If there’s snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it’s hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don’t forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property — use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don’t have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
Get a dog. A real dog. While you’re at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you’ll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.
When you’re selling a house, you should bake cookies before a showing or an open house.
I guess you could say the answer is a hard and fast “true” because, after all, it can’t hurt. Who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked cookies?
But it’s also kind of false…
It isn’t like you can Betty Crocker your way to a sale, let alone at the highest price possible. Your entire house still needs to be appealing. A batch of cookies isn’t going to hide bad odors enough or divert people’s attention from a messy house that needs repairs.
If only it were that simple…
Picture (and smell) this — a buyer shows up to a house and the homeowner has:
Two dogs laying on the sofa (wet from being in the rain).
Five cats roaming around. They share one unclean litter box and use every piece of furniture as scratching posts.
A well-used ashtray in each room.
A teenage son who has a pile of gym clothes under his bed.
A freshly-baked batch of cookies on the table with a sign that says “Enjoy a warm cookie while enjoying our house!”
Think the buyer’s gonna want to grab a cookie, let alone buy the house? Nope. There’s more of a chance their son will figure out how to do his own laundry.
You’d think that’s far-fetched, but we real estate agents and our buyers actually walk into houses not too far from this reality.
The one smell that does sell…
Cookies won’t cut it. Nor will a cookie-scented candle. (Or any other candle scent for that matter.)
Pro tip: Some candles can actually turn a buyer off. Even if someone likes the smell of a particular candle, it may trigger curiosity about what the owner is trying to hide.
However, there is one smell that will help your house sell…
It’s called “clean.” But you can’t get it in a store, online, or from a late night TV infomercial. You can get the products that’ll get your house smelling clean from any of those places… but there’s no substitute for a good, thorough cleaning to create an aroma that will appeal to any and all buyers.
Whether you do it on your own, or hire a professional cleaning service, giving your house a good deep cleaning before (and while) your house is on the market is one of the most important things you can do.
That doesn’t mean it should smell like ammonia or “Spring Breeze” cleaning solution. It should smell like nothing, actually. Or at as close to it as possible.
Obviously there’s more to it than that…
A clean (and clean smelling) house is a good start, but there’s more to think about when preparing your house for sale.
Lots of homeowners do very little to prepare their house for sale, yet they expect their house sell quickly and for top dollar.
On the other hand, some homeowners go bonkers and do way more than they have to, or even should, to prepare their house for sale. These folks end up spending more time or money than they’ll receive in return.
The bottom line:
There’s a fine line between not preparing your house enough… and preparing your house too much. Always seek a trusted real estate professional’s advice on preparing your house just the right amount.