Home improvements can make a huge difference to the value of your home. But all home improvements don’t make an equal return on your investment. Some will cost very little and can increase your property’s value significantly. Others could cost a fortune and will do almost nothing for its selling price.
First impressions count. That’s why spending money on improving your property’s curb appeal is one of the best investments you can make. Building a front porch is a big project that will pay back in short order. But you might also think about repainting the outside of your house, or even just repainting the front door and adding some landscaping.
Next, you need to think about the house as a functional building. Is it working properly? If the roof isn’t sound, it doesn’t matter how stylish your bathroom is – even if someone’s ready to buy. Fixing a leaky roof, rotting windowsills, cracked plasterwork and similar problems needs to be done. It’s not sexy, but it will pay.
Redecorating can also be cheap to do, if you do most of the work yourself. Even just refreshing a finish that has gotten grimy over the years will bring benefits. However, a complete interior makeover by a professional designer probably won’t pay off unless your property is in the top tier – though it may make you happy.
A new kitchen is one of the most common investments homeowners make, and it can recoup its cost when you sell the property. However, you should remember that most potential purchasers will want a fairly standard kitchen. If you choose a very individual design or spend a lot more on the kitchen than is normal in similar properties, it will be difficult to make the money back. For instance, putting a professional chef’s kitchen in a small home is a poor investment.
New bathrooms need careful consideration. Adding a second bathroom in a family house is often a significantly better investment than remodeling the main bathroom. The main bathroom should have a bath as well as a shower or you will limit your market when you come to sell the property. Walk-in showers are becoming increasingly popular, as are mud rooms. For larger houses, the more bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms, the better. A half bath is also useful, particularly on the ground floor.
Additions can be a good investment, particularly a loft conversion or a sunroom. First of all, an addition can make it possible for a family which needs more space to stay put, instead of moving to a larger property. That saves money, but it also saves the disruption of a house move. Additions can also make the property more desirable and increase its value.
When you’re making an investment, you always need to think about the location of your property and what the average property is worth. A little browsing through real estate agents’ listings is always worthwhile. If all the houses in the area have en-suite bathrooms, and yours doesn’t, then that should be the first place to invest money, as it will make a big difference to the “sale-ability” of the house. It’s also worth noting the highest specification and highest priced properties. Creating a property that goes beyond this point is likely to bring diminishing returns. Aiming to be in the top quarter, but not to be the most expensive property in the area, will probably do best.
Home offices are increasingly in demand now that many people work at home, particularly in larger family houses. If you have one, it can be worth investing in attractive fitted bookcases and a fitted desk, though not if that reduces the number of bedrooms below what would be normal for the size of the house. Adjusting a “five bedroom” to a “four bedroom plus office” property might pay off, but taking a “two bedroom” and converting it into a “one bedroom plus office” property could be a mistake.
Of course, it’s your house. You may want to paint the walls purple and have a home sauna, a basement gym, and put a microwave but no oven in the kitchen. You won’t make a return on that investment if you move, but if you stay, you’ll get your investment return in terms of enjoyment. Just be clear about why you are investing the money, and what you expect to get for it.