Nearly every seller I have had the privilege of working with has asked me the same question: What can I do to increase the resale value of my North Conway, NH Real Estate? The answer is often as simple as adding a fresh coat of paint or an updated kitchen. There are projects that will not only increase the value of your home but will also help it sell more quickly by making those initial impressions and showings much more fruitful. It should also be noted that there are projects that can hinder your home’s sale-ability and actually hurt the value. Let’s explore both.
In the spirit of ending this article on a positive note, let’s start with what NOT to do. If you have ever talked to a real estate agent about home values, they will tell you that bathrooms and kitchens sell houses. The first two items on the “don’t” list, however, are kitchens and bathrooms. The differentiator here is doing too much. You have to keep in mind that even if you try to accommodate whom the new buyer might be, you are still putting your own personal tastes on something that is costing you a small fortune.
If you love gourmet cooking and want nothing but the best, you could spend $30,000 or more bringing in that commercial, stainless steel stove and fridge, basin type sinks and restaurant quality venting system. This may be exactly what YOU are looking for in a kitchen. But a buyer that is not crazy about cooking or, more likely, is using this home as a vacation or ski house, is not going to want to pay for that and will move on to the next house with a more moderate set up.
The same can be said about the bathroom. Super-deep jacuzzi tubs, custom showers with 20 shower-heads and the inlaid marble work throughout is beautiful. But just like the kitchen, buyers that are not in the market for that type of luxury are aware of the costs and will not be willing to pay you for something they don’t want in the first place.
Swimming pools are next. These are not all that prevalent in the Northeast, but they represent a huge investment and can even be a detriment to the overall cost of the home. In-ground pools have a slight advantage over above-ground, but they still represent a significant cost to the homeowner (about $1,500/year on average) and, much like commercial stoves, are not everyone’s cup of tea.
Lastly are rooms that are too customized. It is one thing to cover the walls of a room with cartoon characters or superheroes to brighten the eyes of your kids, but that is easily remedied and can be removed a few days before the closing. If you remodel your garage into a sunroom or an extra den, the potential buyers will inevitably see this as a waste of a garage (especially in New England) and a large project they will have to undertake should they buy your home.
Now let’s explore some of the ways to increase the value of your home and make it more attractive to buyers. Remodeling magazine provides an annual report for Cost vs. Value and uses input from REALTORS® in 80 cities to rank projects. This year the report made it clear that first impressions really do matter. It was also interesting and encouraging to note that 4 of the 5 top projects were considered “mid-range” and were not overly expensive or extensive.
Topping the list and the first thing staring at the buyers when they step out of their car is a replacement entry door. The cost and the resale value are almost identical. You do need to be cautious about the style of the door. It is important that the door match the home as well as the neighborhood. Going over-the-top with a fancy, leaded glass door in a moderate neighborhood on a moderate home would look silly and tell the buyer they would need to replace it immediately. Then the resale amount starts to head into the negative!
Replacement siding and garage doors are also of vital importance and provide great return on investment. These are right in the same league as the entry door, but clearly have more visual impact since they are typically the most obvious and prominent features on the home. There are a bevy of options for the types of siding and doors you can buy, but all of the bells and whistles will not replace the fact that this is a large percentage of the front-facing home and needs to be clean, fresh, functioning and (ideally) new.
Finishing up on the outside of the home would be a deck addition. It is important to stay in the middle of the road here as well. A huge deck will never recoup the cost and a deck that is too small will appear useless and likely not win any points with the buyers. I also recommend that you do some of this work yourself. The framing and footings can be done by a professional, but screwing in the decking and applying stain can be a fun weekend project and save you a ton of money.
Once we get inside that fancy new front door you just installed, we come to the old stand-by: The upgraded kitchen. As I mentioned above, going overboard here is just a waste of money and a big risk. Simply doing a moderate kitchen upgrade can save you money and pay dividends down the road. Simple upgrades such as painting cabinet doors, replacing flooring and countertops and even updating the appliances will provide buyers with a kitchen they can live with and be easy on your wallet. If at all possible, you should keep your existing wiring and plumbing in place. If they are up to code and functional you can upgrade around them and achieve the same results.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself “WWMRD”? (What Would My Realtor Do?) If your purpose is to sell this home, using the thought process of a North Conway real estate professional will likely keep you pointed in the right direction. In all my years of being in Real Estate, I’ve never heard a Realtor recommend to a buyer that they should remodel a room as the Millennium Falcon or transform the garage into a skate park in order to entice buyers. Keep your upgrades neutral and your budget conservative. Chances are you’ll make changes that appeal to the masses and get that house sold!