Should I stay or should I go? It’s a question many homeowners find themselves asking and lately my husband and I have been pondering this question as well. We love our home. It’s a modest 2500 square foot row home in the city with some fun charm and urban advantage. We bought it as a gutted shell-of-a-house six years ago and worked with contractors to rebuild it from the inside out.
Since that time, I have made it over to fit our changing tastes and our family’s needs. But living in the city has some major drawbacks. As the boys get older, my husband and I struggle with whether or not we should move to a more suburban area complete with big backyard and neighborhood playmates. For now, we are staying put (while keeping an eye on the real estate listings). And we want to make sure that the improvements we make to our home will reap some return if and when we decide to sell!
According to my research, the five DIY home improvements that will give you the most return on your dollar are as follows:
- Kitchen updates
- Bath updates
- Exterior updates (new roof, new siding, etc.)
- Paint and moulding
What kitchen updates are really necessary in order to get the most when you sell your home? Well, the answers might surprise you! Updated appliances and updated cabinets are really the most important elements—everything else is a matter of opinion and personal taste. I’ll use my kitchen as an example of what I mean.
Everything in our kitchen was brand new six years ago. I proudly chose every single thing that you see in the “before” picture. I designed the kitchen layout, chose the cabinets, the hardware, the tiffany light fixtures, the appliances, and the paint color. The Benjamin Moore Million Dollar Red was ALL me. And at the time I adored everything about this kitchen and it couldn’t have been more perfect. But I had been ahead of the game on the popular “red and gold” color scheme and had already lived with these colors since the late 90′s. It took about one year after designing this kitchen for me to begin despising the colors. Instead of feeling warm and cozy, it felt dark, heavy, and oppressive. Being in my own kitchen made me feel irritable and anxious.
I painted the cabinets, installed a backsplash, added a screen pantry door, added beams, and changed the light fixtures and I LOVE it. But many people prefer the “before” and identify with the dark warm wood and warmer tones. Many people HATE painted wood and see it as a check against your home rather than an asset. Knowing this, I do not regret the changes I made here one. single. bit. This is our home, and I intend to enjoy it while we are here! However, I recognize that the changes that I made to our kitchen most likely will not increase our home’s value in the slightest. If your kitchen looks like my “before” and you are thinking of selling, you don’t need to worry about investing money in the kitchen to update it. A more neutral wall color might help but the other updates aren’t necessary.
Updating old toilets and exchanging outdated cabinetry for pedestal sinks can produce a return on your investment. Adding built-in storage to a small bathroom will also boost appeal. The other cosmetic updates that I made to our half-bath probably won’t garner much return. In fact, the beadboard wallpaper and spanish tile wallpaper might be viewed as detractors by some buyers. Do I regret making the wallpaper updates? Nope. I know firsthand what a pain wallpaper can be to remove, but I stand by my decorating decision. Now, if we stay in this house another six years and I’m the one removing it all—ask me again if I regret it!
Peeling paint, damaged shingles, and ugly siding should all be freshened up before placing a home on the market. The exterior of our home is very old, but when we renovated our home we had a lot of new moulding installed and the exterior painted . You can see below how awful the paint looked just a few years later! Wood rot was setting in and many pieces of moulding needed to be replaced. This is due to an improper gutter installation issue that still needs remedied. We replaced some wet wood and had the exterior painted (again) over the summer. However, if we don’t solve our water drainage issues we will run into the same problems down the road. Having a sound exterior is a crucial investment that should be tended to before cosmetic repairs! (Live and learn, eh?)
Paint and Moulding
Crown moulding, board and batten, plank walls, beadboard, and trim all add character and charm to a home and give it a custom, “high-end” look. I don’t think you can go wrong in adding these timeless features to your space! If you are able to do the work yourself, then you should be able to see a return on your investment. And of course freshening up your paint colors is always an easy and inexpensive update that will help your home stand out in a crowd.
Landscaping and Curb Appeal
While sometimes I long for a big expansive yard (and I definitely long for a prettier view), creating curb appeal in an urban environment is admittedly a bit easier! We have a tiny back yard, front porch, back porch, and roof deck that need tending to. I love to use creative container gardens in all of these spaces during the spring and summer. No matter where you live, pulling weeds, mulching, cutting grass, and planting flowers and container gardens is an easy way to spruce up your outdoor living space.
Deciding how much time and money to invest in your current home is a very personal decision. I think most creatives, like myself, who enjoy the art of nesting and see “home” as our “canvas” tend not to worry as much about returns on investments and future homeowners. But as I give further thought to the possibility of moving it definitely changes my perspective on how much might be “too much” to invest in a home where I know we won’t see the financial returns. How about you? How do you make those tough decisions for your own home?
I’m a brand ambassador for Homes.com and recently wrote an article entitled “Top 5 Projects That Will Get Your Listing Sold Quickly“.
If you know you are going to sell, then you will want to check out those tips! You may also be interested in checking out the Home Value tool to see the estimated value for homes in your area. You can sign up to receive alerts on estimated appreciations and depreciations for your property.
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