Sunday, October 22, 2006

Which Home Improvements Add Value?

While some home improvements can add significant dollars to the resale value of a residence, others are barely worth the investment. So how can homeowners decide which improvements will add significant value and which won't?

Here's a few tips on cost-effective improvement; upgrades that can make the difference in the sale price and add value to your property.

As a rule, kitchens and baths are the two areas that most often make the difference in a sale. They make the most impact on buyers, and definitely impact what buyers perceive the property is worth. But, kitchens and baths are not inexpensive to upgrade.The national average for remodeling an entire kitchen is more than $20,000 with some running upwards of $30,000. Complete remodeling can include cabinets, floors, counters, sinks, appliances, lighting fixtures and new windows.

Make sure any improvements are appropriate to the character of the property. Try to avoid replacing old features - such as stained glass, picture rails and original skirting boards with modern ones.

An extra bathroom should keep its value, as long as it is not built at the expense of a bedroom. If the property is fairly large and has upwards of five bedrooms with one bathroom - converting a bedroom into a bathroom may have certain appeal and homeowners may possibly break even on their investment.

Laundry rooms on the main floor or upstairs in the bedroom area seem to pay for themselves.

There's a way to put a new look on this important area without spending significant money. For a relatively low cost, homeowners can make spot improvements. For example, for as low as $1,000 the existing countertop can be replaced with a Formica top. For $2,500 to $3,000, the existing cabinet faces can be replaced with solid oak faces. Homeowners can buy a new sink at a home furnishing store and have a contractor install it for approximately $300 - $400. The end result is improved appearance-and usually a higher selling price for relatively minimal expenditure.

Other areas that influence price: Central air conditioning is an important feature for which buyers will usually pay extra.

Room additions, on the other hand, may add value, but may not end up paying for themselves.

Upgraded carpeting, top-of-the-line windows and vaulted ceilings can command higher resale prices, but it is unlikely that the seller will be able to recoup their original investment.

Existing features that have diminished with age can usually be repaired without a lot of added expense. Hardwood floors, for instance, cost $1.50 - $2.00 per square foot to refurbish, but it is a good investment because buyers are willing to pay more for the refinished appearance.

A swimming pool may be the height of luxury, but potential buyers may be concerned about security risks for small children and expensive running costs. A pool may recoup as little as 10 percent of the initial cost and so should not be considered to be a good house improvement

Garages are sought after features and will almost certainly recoup an investment.

For older homes, people are more energy conscious, so improvements in the insulation of windows, doors and storm doors are smart investments.In general, neutral, light and bright are the best rules to follow-a neutral decor, freshly painted walls and clean carpeting also help to sell a home faster.

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