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Home updates that pay off

If you’re planning on selling your home, or even thinking about it, chances are you’re assessing what improvement projects will make your home more desirable to prospective buyers. Gut and remodel the kitchen? Add a patio or pool? Put on a new roof?

There are definitely updates and upgrades that will add aesthetic value to your home…and will make you happier to live there. But which also offer the greatest return on your investment (ROI)? The answers might surprise you.

“Homeowners should consider what improvements will build the best value for their market – in this case, Western New York,” says Michael Olear, licensed real estate broker for MJ Peterson. “For example, while an in-ground pool might be a huge attraction in the southern states, that’s not the case here, where our season is much shorter. You likely won’t see a high enough return to make spending that money worthwhile if your house is below a certain price point.”

Understanding that budgets are typically limited, Olear recommends homeowners be as practical as possible, and start the process by making the repairs and upgrades that will not only allow them to recoup the highest percentage of the cost and maximize their home’s value, but also cause the fewest delays when it comes time to sell. While these are not always the sexiest projects, certain repairs can make a huge difference when buyers apply for a mortgage.

“Impediments to financing can be a huge problem and can slow down or even negate a sale,” says Olear. “Banks have certain regulations when it comes to such things as peeling exterior paint, trip hazards in concrete sidewalks and curling or missing roof shingles. These are the types of things that can lower the price you’ll get and cause delays, because you’ll be forced to make certain repairs for bank approval. It’s best to address these items ahead of time, understand what you’re in for and just get it done. It’ll save in the long run.”

For example, wet basements and settlement cracks are very common in Western New York because of our clay soil and poor runoff, so correcting these conditions before putting your house on the market should be a priority.

“Nobody wants to buy obvious problems,” says Olear.

Adding insulation brings a higher return on investment — over 100 percent — compared to windows, which return, on average, about 45 percent. “If you have old, leaky windows, yes, replace them. But don’t go overboard with high-end windows that won’t impress prospective buyers or add value to your home.”

Security features, such as cameras and alarm systems, are also worth the effort. Replacing an old wooden front door with a steel reinforced door offers added security and energy efficiency, and is much easier to maintain — and you’ll see more than 100 percent ROI. Even landscaping can add to the value of your home.

Beyond practicalities

Home updates that pay off | Buffalo Magazine

Once you’ve completed the important repair projects, what updates will offer the best ROI? “Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom will definitely help maximize your home’s value,” says Domenic Cortese, president & CEO of Cortese Construction Services. He does recommend, however, that homeowners take a conservative approach and warns that lavish, overdone elements don’t add to the value of your home.

“It’s best to stay relatively generic when making home improvements so that when you go to sell, your home has broad-based appeal,” he says. For example, he recommends when redoing a kitchen or bathroom that you don’t overinvest in the fixtures. “That expensive trendy faucet will add to your budget, but won’t offer a great return,” says Cortese. “You’ll get a bigger bang with quality, such as Delta or Moen.”

Patios and decks are also a good investment. “Our season is very short here in Western New York, so anything that extends the season and the home’s footprint — firepits, outdoor kitchens and living rooms — will be attractive to buyers,” says Cortese.

Maintaining the home’s mechanical systems – furnace, water heater, etc. – is important and making energy efficient improvements are always worthwhile. “Not only will they improve the comfort level in your home, but they’ll also offer a good return,” says Cortese.

Home updates that will (eventually) pay for themselves

Wondering which home improvement projects will pay off? Here’s a list compiled from from national experts about projects that will bring the best return on investment:

  • Adding fiberglass insulation in the attic
  • Adding manufactured stone veneer to exterior
  • Correcting a wet basement
  • New steel-reinforced front door
  • New garage door
  • Minor kitchen remodel
  • Minor bathroom remodel
  • Adding square footage (family room, second story, etc.)
  • Improved landscaping
  • Adding a deck or patio

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