One of the most common questions I field from clients who are planning to list a property sounds something like this:
“What renovations or fixes should I consider to get a higher price for my home? Or perhaps, “Will I get a higher price for my home if I paint the exterior and put in new landscaping?”
Although there are no simple answers to each of these questions, it seems wise for Sellers to think carefully about tackling home improvements which may or may not increase a home’s selling price.
So today, I’m going to flip the question upside down and ask:
“What upgrades are least likely to reap financial rewards if I plan to list my home soon?”
UPGRADE #1: High end Infrastructure and Utilities
Does your home need a new roof? Should you get the 50-year roof with the premium price tag?
Performing regular maintenance to the infrastructure of a home is an important part of homeownership. A well-maintained home often sells more quickly and with less snafus during the escrow process than homes without regular attention.
But when performing infrastructure maintenance, homeowners have options. Some may choose to install the highest quality upgrades available. And that’s great, but it may not be realistic to expect buyers to pay a premium on resale for highly upgraded building materials used during expected maintenance. Truthfully, in some neighborhoods, such materials might be an expectation for buyers rather than an upgrade while in others, a standard quality upgrade is sufficient.
It’s important to get the repairs done safely and effectively, but high-end isn’t necessarily in your financial favor. Review your options carefully.
UPGRADE #2: Extensive landscaping
Curb appeal and desirable landscaping is an important feature for a newly listed home, especially in northern California where an outdoor lifestyle is an expectation rather than a luxury.
But landscaping is highly dependent on personal preference, and often a quick update with fresh sod and a play area may delight buyers just as effectively as a major landscape overhaul costing thousands of dollars. For example, that pond and waterfall feature you’d had your eye on may seem like a lot of unnecessary maintenance to a potential buyer. It’s better to spend the money on smaller pay-offs like a self-installed dining pergola or small fire pit.
UPGRADE #3: Backyard pool or hot tub.
Not every buyer is in search of a backyard pool or hot tub which are synonymous with higher maintenance and utility costs, not to mention the potential of a safety hazard to small children. If you wish to install a pool in your yard, make sure you are installing it for the right reasons and enjoy it! But don’t expect a pool to markedly increase the sales price of your home.
UPGRADE #4: Trendy flooring and fixtures
When installing new flooring and fixtures, remember that interior design trends change quickly. So, when choosing fixtures that will last for a while such as flooring, countertops, fixtures, and appliances, avoid the latest trends which may become dated quickly. Everyone loves a timeless look and a neutral palette. Simple, classic choices are apt to appeal to a wider range of potential homeowners in the long run.
UPGRADE #5: Solar panels
Looking to reduce energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint? Solar panels are an outstanding option but remember that you may not recoup their value when you sell your home. Depending upon the installation, in fact, some home sellers may be responsible for paying off the remaining balance on a payment plan before escrow closes and leased panels can become a pain point in sales negotiations as well. Although solar panels are a desirable home addition, it’s important to make sure that you are installing solar panels because it is something you want to do and that it’s good for the earth, not because you think it will markedly increase the sales price of your home.
So, here’s a general rule of thumb regarding home upgrades:
If you are performing home improvements for your own benefit, enjoy! But if you are planning to sell soon, consider the cost effectiveness of these upgrades before indulging.
Looking for more great advice? Check out the Home Improvement page on my website and download my free ebook with great advice for homeowners.