Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just don’t do that. Some over-the-top renovations won’t help sell your home or impress buyers.

Selling a home usually means some updating, possibly remodeling a few areas. Kitchens and bathroom renovations reap payback at closing time, but a word to the wise: don’t over improve. You’ll set yourself up for a yield of diminishing returns.

The smartest way to increase your home’s value is to bring it up to neighborhood standards. Leaping ahead of the Joneses will only stall your sale, especially in a market where buyers are cautious and want to see solid value. Always consider your neighborhood and research comparable properties before you jump into renovation projects.

Here are some don’ts and do’s.

Don’t assume more space means more profit. Depending on your neighborhood, over-the-top improvements can be a real turnoff for buyers, especially if it means that additional maintenance isn’t worth the effort. For instance, kitchens catch a buyer’s eye, but if you’re dead set on a chef’s kitchen, take a step back and think about it. Sprucing up a kitchen is a good move, and a nice makeover can be done with minimum investment.

Don’t turn a bedroom into an office space when you’re ready to sell. Buyers want bedrooms and want to see rooms as bedrooms. If you already have a home office, which most of us do these days, upgrade that space with attractive storage units to reduce clutter, and maybe a new desk that you can take with you to your next home.

Do think long and hard about installing a swimming pool, unless you plan to stay where you are for a long time. Buyers can see a pool as a major headache and safety issue if they have small children. Heating, skimming, repairing, balancing the acidity level and winterizing are a lot of work for buyers moving into a new home. Instead, take some of that money to create a beautiful landscape with perennials–a lot less work.

Don’t install that media room with theater seating. As buyers downsize, that’s one recent improvement that is no longer enticing. A family room is a better value, but so is a clean, waterproof basement for storage and an efficient laundry space.

The way you look at your living space is very personal. If, indeed, you want an Italian wine cellar with imported stonemasons, by all means do that should you plan to stay for a while. But, that wine cellar isn’t going to add bottom line value to your home if you want to sell now.

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