January 3

Eight Creative Ways You Can Get More For Your Home

While home sellers hope to get top dollar for their property – and some have an inflated idea of what to expect – establishing a home's value can be a complex, multifaceted process. Do home renovations really pay off? And which is more valuable: a three-bedroom or a four-bedroom with the same square footage? We talked to real estate insiders to find out.

The classic real estate refrain says, “location, location, location.” Location includes factors such as the price of recent nearby transactions, the quality of local schools and whether the area has a strong sense of community.

Age is a factor, but condition matters too. “Someone will pay $15,000 more for a well-kept house that’s move-in ready than they will for a house that needs $5,000 worth of work,”

Renovations play into a home's value, but if your home is considered “over improved” compared with other properties in the neighborhood, it can actually hurt the property's value.

 

ConsumerReports.org recommends getting the most bang for your buck by catering to desires expressed by millennials, based on their survey results. Here are their top recommendations.

1: The Kitchen Is Still King

Buyers of all kinds have long focused on the kitchen, but it holds particular sway over the newest wave of first-time homeowners. A “modern/updated kitchen” topped the list of ideal home features in our survey of millennials, registering as most important to more than a third of respondents. If you plan to sell, don’t rip your kitchen down to the studs; a smaller investment can have serious impact. For as little as $5,000, you should be able to add a new suite of appliances, as well as a new countertop and flooring, resulting in a fresh, coordinated look. Applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls or cabinets, and updating the hardware, can also breath new life into the space. (Check our kitchen planning guide for more information.)

Value-Added Buzzwords
Stainless steel.
Though it has been around for decades, this appliance finish conveys clean, contemporary design, so it will signal “updated” in the mind of the buyer. For the latest spin on stainless, look for new versions of black stainless steel from KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung, each with a softer, less reflective finish but the same cachet as the original.

Quartz countertops. Engineered from stone chips, resins, and pigments, quartz has started to challenge granite and marble as the go-to material in higher-end kitchens. It shrugged off heat, scratches, cuts, and stains in our tests, and it requires none of the upkeep of comparably priced natural stones. Expect to spend $40 to $100 per square foot, installed.

Potential bump in sale price: 3 to 7 percent

2: Make Floor Plans Work Harder

Bigger isn’t necessarily better in today’s market, but strategically increasing the amount of living space is sure to boost home value. An “open floor plan with flexible living space” was second only to an updated kitchen on millennials’ list of most desired features.

Finishing a basement is the most common way to add usable square footage to a home. Most homeowners spend between about $10,000 and roughly $27,000 converting a basement, depending on the size of the space, according to estimates from HomeAdvisor, a website that connects homeowners with prescreened service professionals. Attic conversions are another option. The average attic remodel in 2014 cost $50,000.

Many younger buyers will envision the additional living spaces as a dedicated office, especially if they work from home. And at the other end of the spectrum, “a lot of my boomer clients are daytime caretakers for their grandkids,” says David Pekel, who owns a remodeling company in Wauwatosa, Wis. “They want a playroom that they can close the door to after the kids leave, so they’re not dealing with toys underfoot.”

Value-Added Buzzwords
Flex rooms.
 Also known as double-duty rooms, you’ll see flex rooms advertised as an additional living area that can serve a variety of purposes, from a guest bedroom to a game room to an exercise room to a study room for the kids.

Mother-in-law apartment. These spaces go by many names, including “granny flats,” “casitas,” and the technical sounding “accessory dwelling unit,” or ADU. They can house an additional family member or provide rental income—­allowing baby boomers to afford their house once they retire or helping millennials pay the mortgage. More municipalities, particularly in Western cities, are amending zoning laws to allow for ADUs.

Upstairs laundry rooms. Younger buyers in particular say they want a dedicated laundry room, perhaps off the kitchen or even near second-floor bedrooms. Manufacturers are obliging with washer/dryer sets with a matching fit and finish that neatly integrate into the living space. We like the Maytag Bravos ­MVWB855DW HE top-loader and Maytag Bravos ­MEDB855DW electric dryer, $1,050 each.

Potential bump: 4 to 6 percent”

 

To find out the other top six recommendations from ConsumerReports.org, please check out their article.

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Tags

home improvement, increasing home value


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