So you bought a house and want to take out a loan to renovate, to fix it up a little and make it your own. The smart question to ask yourself is, “Where do I put the money so I add value to my home?” Unless you are doing a particular upgrade for your own comfort, if it doesn’t fit with the demographic of your neighborhood, you may not recoup that money at all. Some people are all about getting the most out of their money and only putting into their home what they will reap when they sell and others will simply upgrade to their personal liking and hope it sells when they put it on the market.
But here is what the market likes:
When remodeling a kitchen, think about ways to be more green, energy efficient appliances, renewable resource flooring like bamboo, using reclaimed wood in an accent wall, painting with eco-friendly paints, adding a recycle organization area, and lighting choices will all benefit you. Granite countertops have been the going trend, they are beautiful and clean but expensive. Look into quartz and even concrete for options. Those are durable and very fashionable in home décor. In keeping with the “kitchen work triangle”, make your design flow and your sink, stove and refrigerator form the easy to maneuver triangle. Nothing is worse than a kitchen that people hate to congregate in and use. And speaking from personal experience, a window at the sink goes a long way. If there is no window, put one in. It will feel like a cave, like you are banished to a hole in the house if you don’t. If your sink is at an island, have the window along a buffet counter. But I am telling you, natural light and being able to see beyond the walls is just something people need. Storage is always a welcome feature in a home, especially in a kitchen. Cupboard space and pantry shelving are vital in a well-designed space.
Having nice bathrooms, especially a master bath, is a great way to invest in your home. A single sink in the main bath, double sinks in the master. A tub/shower unit in the main bath and a nice walk in shower with a jetted tub separate from the shower in the master. Many potential homeowners like the thought of having an oasis off of their master bedroom and will buy a home with a suite before one without. If you happened to buy a home that is older, comprised of many small rooms, make one of those small rooms a master bath. There are buyers out there that love the historical home feel, but don’t like the fact that there is usually no bath off the master bedroom. In fact, many of these homes only have one bath for the entire house. Increase your resale value by adding a bathroom, not just any bathroom, but one that updates the house while still preserving its charm.
Being outdoors is great…unless you have a gross space out there. Building a deck should be factored into your budget when doing renovations. Just because you might not be into sitting out there watching the sunset doesn’t mean others won’t want to and the next potential homeowner may be a total outside freak! If you are thinking resale value, think outdoor spaces. Don’t just throw up some old wooden thing out there either, really plan it out and add a feature like a bar, a mini kitchen, or a fire pit. Those will all perk up the senses of buyers and could make the sale all by itself. There are many materials you can choose from anymore, from your raw wood that you would stain and re-stain periodically to vinyl to composites that require little to no maintenance at all. But just nailing something together that resembles a few palettes outside is not going to get anyone’s positive attention. Really think out your design and functionality.
How your yard looks will also play into the feel of the home. Curb appeal and a festive back yard space are crucial and as I mentioned before, could make or break the deal. A fence and sprinkler system are pretty standard, but if you do not have them, those are things that are desired in a home search and you may get passed up. Storage in your yard is one of those luxuries people love also, but don’t just sit it at the back of your yard and abandon it. Plant flowers around the outside and make it an obvious part of your landscape so as to not become an eyesore. Spring for low maintenance plants and flowers for beds and beautify trees with ground cover to create a bit of color. Water treatments catch the attention of potential homebuyers, making the areas feel peaceful and zen-like.
Finishing the square footage of your basement is money well spent. Families are always craving more space and basements give you that. The room is already there, you just have to finish it off and put it to good use. Make it functional and neutral though, even adding a bedroom suite if you have the room. Mother-in-law type areas are very popular with homeowners. Most basements are converted into family gathering areas, theater rooms, game rooms, bar areas, and children’s playrooms. You can’t go wrong with basements.
A Word on Paint
Some consider painting a renovation. I consider painting a cosmetic fix. It is inexpensive to do and can change the atmosphere of a room completely. However, even with paint, dirty carpet will still be dirty and old cabinets will still be musty, and outdated windows will still be drafty. Paint will be a necessary evil when it comes to renovating, so practice holding the roller now! But painting also allows you to see your spaces coming together when other things take a long time to see progress.
When thinking about where your money will do you the most favors, this is a good place to start. Make it comfortable for you and your family, but also think about staying neutral enough that others will want to buy it when it comes time to sell as well.
Tim Richmond is a writer, amateur historian and blogger who writes about the economy, finance, sustainable living and home ownership. He currently writes for the Native American home loan specialists 1tribal.com.