Talk to A Real Estate Agent Before Making Home Improvements

Thanks primarily to popular home improvement TV shows, many people believe that they can dramatically increase the value of their home with upgrades and add-ons. This is both a true and false statement. While there are some proven high-value improvements, it’s most important to find out what your local home market values before you start ripping out walls. The best way to do that, even if you’re not quite ready to list your homes for sale in Raleigh NC, to have a conversation with a qualified real estate professional.

The value of home improvements varies with the ups and downs of the real estate market itself. For instance, in 2006 each dollar that went into a home would bring back 76.1 cents at sale. By 2008, however, that figure was down to 67.3 cents. It’s extremely rare to break even on home upgrades and modifications, but regaining 75 percent of the amount invested is, in most cases, a reasonable expectation. In some instances, where a particular addition is highly valued, like Decking in San Francisco, the homeowner might well recoup more than 100 percent of their expenses. Intimate knowledge of the local market is a must to intelligently decide where to spend money on your home.

Two fairly “sure thing” improvements are kitchen and bath renovations. Do not, however, exceed the overall “level” of the home. Putting in fixtures or items like counters and cabinets that have a quality radically above the overall look and style of the house will likely backfire. In either room, a fresh coat of paint, new hardware, and new floors will make an enormous difference. Where bathrooms are concerned, exceed every level of “clean” you’ve ever contemplated before listing the house — even if that means hiring a cleaning service. Nothing will turn a buyer off faster than a less than sparkling bathroom.

Also, steer clear of improvements that could actually detract from the worth of your home. Odd room additions top the list, especially if they disrupt the flow from room to room or have awkward entrance points. For instance, if you have to go through the master bath to get to the family room, you have a problem. Outdoor living spaces are a good idea, in terms of a patio or deck, but pools are increasingly falling from favor due to the expense and time involved in maintenance. The value of a pool is highly subjective by region. They’re a great idea in Florida — not so much in Wisconsin.

Most homeowners never talk to a real estate professional until they’re ready to buy or sell, but remember, these people are experts in the local market. To really get valuable insight into the best investments you can make in home improvements to command top dollar at closing, don’t talk to your contractor first, talk to a real estate agent.

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