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5 Home Improvement Projects that Pay Off at Resale

There’s a reason why home improvement television shows have become so popular:  Americans love the notion that we can make things beautiful, and the idea that we could perhaps take control of and complete the entire project ourselves is too tempting to pass up. It’s an insanely satisfying way to spend a couple of hours, and a hobby that also makes us enjoy our living space that much more.  Sounds like a win-win, right?

Although the urge to renovate and redecorate can be strong, and can often improve our home’s organization and feel, sometimes it can also end up decreasing the value.  If there’s even a possibility that you may be selling your home in the next couple of months, you may want to hold off on certain projects, or at least devote your energies to those tasks that are going to pay off the most at resale.

Generally speaking, renovating or updating anything can’t hurt, as long as you don’t make a modification that the majority of people would find strange, unusual, or extremely bold.  For example, most people would be okay with a light blue paint hue, but the vast majority of people would probably not enjoy neon orange as a wall color.   So as long as you’re staying within the realm of what’s aesthetically pleasing to the majority, go for it —and try to accomplish quick and simple fixes that will bring the maximum ROI, or return on your investment.

Here are some of the top five projects that will result in a higher resale:

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  1.  Paint, Please! –   Painting your home is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to increase the curb appeal, but also the perceived value, of your home.   This year, the trend is to paint your front door a color that “pops”, that doesn’t necessarily “match” the rest of the home.  Bright red and turquoise are some of the most popular choices at the moment, and you can find some other popular color choices here.  For your interior, you’ll want to stick with a neutral that’s not boring, like a pearl or light gray.  The trick is to make sure there’s a balance- you’ll need something neutral that won’t distract potential buyers, but something young and hip enough to appeal to the market trends that are popular among first-time homebuyers, which make up the largest demographic of buyers in 2017.

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2.  Minor Bathroom Remodel — Next up (but not nearly as easy) is a minor bathroom remodel.  This made #2 on our list because HGTV lists a minor bathroom remodel as the most profitable thing you can do when reselling a home, coming in at a whopping 102% return on your investment.  Obviously, the best thing to do would be to completely replace the bathtub, tile, and toilet, but at minimum, you can reglaze the tub, repaint the walls, and update the knobs and fixtures with very little effort.  A tube of caulk also goes a long way and is about as easy as writing a name on a birthday cake with icing.

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3.  Landscaping — Another obvious choice is landscaping, which is relatively easy to do but goes a long way in terms of impact.  When potential buyers see your home it’s almost like they’re going on a first date, and first impressions mean everything.  Why not improve the very first thing they’ll see when they step out of the car?  You can hire a landscaper and a designer for a couple of thousand dollars, but a better thing to do is to go to a local home improvement or garden center and grab some plants that are beautiful and easy to maintain.  Finish the look with mulch (after spraying weed killer) for a very cheap but very effective way to make your yard look as polished as possible.

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4.  Minor Kitchen Remodel — Just like the bathroom, the best thing to do in the kitchen is to replace anything that may be outdated, but updating an entire kitchen can be costly and inconvenient.  Try to do things that provide maximum visual impact, like repainting cabinets.  Something that’s trending now is to paint all of your cabinets a light blue, which is definitely different from the wood staining we’ve done throughout the last thirty years.   You can also change knob pulls and fixtures for functionality and visual appeal.

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5.   Deck, Patio, and Porch additions —  Everyone likes to throw a good party, and not only will you have a more appealing home after an addition to your deck or patio, but you’ll also have more fun in your space with an improved outdoor gathering place.  Try building a deck or a pergola,  adding some fun lights, or even building some custom wooden deck furniture.  You’ll get bonus points for adding a beautiful flower garden, water feature, or element of fun like a mini pool or fire pit.   In this case, the sky truly is the limit, because you aren’t restricted by ceilings like you would be in the rest of the house, so think extra big!

It’s important to note that certain remodels make more sense depending on your market and trends in your area.  For example, someone in New Orleans probably wouldn’t have a basement, so a downstairs game room might be out of the question, and someone in Buffalo wouldn’t necessarily be that concerned with an air conditioner or outdoor pool.  There are also different trends and cultural differences, for example, the West Coast is generally more concerned with green trends than say someplace like Texas.  The bottom line is to do your research, and if you need to you can always check with a real estate agent to help you out with some comparisons in your area.

At the end of the day, it’s your home, so do anything that will make you happy to live there,  while still keeping in mind what future home buyers could possibly want, or not like.  I personally like to visualize the TV show “Trading Spaces” and whether I think someone would be surprised or disgusted by the big reveal of the new renovations.  If I can’t imagine everyone loving it, I decide against the repair and pick something a little more universally friendly.

Above all else, it can never hurt to do anything that will add some extra value to your home and cash to your pockets, which can then be used for your next big renovation in your next home!


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