Planning to Sell or Refinance? Improve Your Home First!
Some people will do home improvements because they want to live in a nicer home. Others will complete them so that they can sell their home for a more. Still others want to refinance, and need to increase the value to get rid of that pesky PMI. And there are even those that are seeking a reverse mortgage soon, and they want to make sure their monthly checks are large enough.
No matter your reason, you don’t want to dump a bunch of time and money into little improvements that won’t affect the value of your house very much. You want to focus on the top improvements to increase your home’s value. Here are a few things that you can do.
1. Paint the Walls
Paint is still the easiest, and cheapest, way to take your home from drab to wow. Getting rid of the boring “off-white” is a sure way to make things look fresh. Touching up that paint that has been marred, chipped, scraped, and scuffed over the years makes the home feel new. Just don’t get too crazy, an orange, yellow, and green living room is probably too much for potential buyers. 😉
Cost: $3.00 to $6.00 per sq. ft. on average, depending on the paint quality, amount of prep work required, and overall size of the project. A typical interior remodeling painting project for the whole house may cost between $3,000 and $6,000 on average.
2. Go Green
Green is a great color for some rooms, but we’re talking environmentally friendly here. Spending a few hundred dollars to update fixtures and install energy efficient LED light bulbs is a start. A little more to update insulation and ensure that appliances (especially furnace, AC, and water heater) are eco-friendly will not only increase your selling price, but it will shorten the time on the market.
3. Plant a Tree or Two
If your yard is a little bare, consider a long-term investment. Most areas of the country improve the land by planting trees. Find those that are suitable to your zone, and put them in the right spot in the yard. Trees are cheap; they just take a little labor to ensure that they’ll grow up right. Bonus: plant a fruit tree and you can enjoy the literal fruits of your labor.
Cost: $500 to $2,500 depending on the scope.
4. Make it Easy to Maintain
When planting, remodeling, or updating, keep in mind how easy it is going to be to maintain. If you’re landscaping, put in underground sprinklers and drip systems. The less work a potential buyer is going to have to do, the more likely you’ll get an offer that meets your expectations. Consider xeriscaping to reduce environmental impact.
Cost: $1,800 to $3,500 on average, depending on the scope.
5. Update the Small Rooms
Small rooms are cheaper to update than larger ones. While bedrooms don’t usually need much, maybe a new light fixture and some paint, consider updating that small bathroom. It will be cheaper than the master bath, but will still give your home that added pop.
6. Invest in Curb Appeal
What’s the first thing people see when they pull up? Is it an overgrown lawn and a few tired trees? Gussy up the front of the house by power washing the siding if needed, buying some pots and filling them with flowers, and then map out where some perennials can pop up every year with little to no effort from you.
Cost: $300 to $500.
7. Dump the Vinyl
Vinyl siding is popular for one big reason: it can be gotten for cheap. — But that’s a double edged sword. On the one hand you don’t always pay much, but on the other it can sometimes look less than great when done on the cheap, and it’s damaged easily when a hail storm rips through. Forgo vinyl, and opt for something tougher like LP SmartSide or Fiber Cement.
Cost: $8.00 to $14.00 per square foot on average, depending on the project scope and your home’s location.
8. Live Outside
How much of your time is spent indoors? Likely it is a significant portion. For the cheapest way to add living space to your home, think outside. Build a deck or pour a concrete slab for a patio if necessary. Then pick up some cheap patio furniture (or expensive patio furniture), and move outside. An outdoor rug, a radio, and some comfy chairs and you’ll wonder why you even have a roof.
9. Educate Your Home
While you’re doing updates, make your home smart. Or at least make it capable of becoming smart. There are a number of devices out there with which you can retrofit a house, such as the Wink Hub, and turn an ordinary home into a smart home. For under $1,000 you can have most things automated, and you can show prospective buyers that the home has added safety features.
10. Go All Out
Maybe you need a complete change. Rip out that kitchen, the flooring, the bathroom, and start over fresh! If you do much of the work yourself, then you’ll see a nice return when it comes time to sell. If you have a contractor do it all, then you will likely only recoup about 80% of the costs. But if you plan to live in the house for another 20 years, it’s probably worth it!
Sell for More, Refinance for More, Reverse Mortgage for More
A home is a huge financial commitment. So when property changes hands, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most from all your hard work. Some of that starts with having a great Real estate agent, and some of that comes from having a mortgage lender that knows the best product for your situation. But most of it rests on a commitment from the home owner to make the home beautiful, and maintain it so that buyers are willing to pay more when it comes time to sell.