Ask a Falls Church Realtor, builder, or contractor about the best things homeowners can do to get higher prices for their homes, and nine of ten will say “kitchen and bath.”
In the Washington region, an average “minor” kitchen remodeling costs about $20,000 and will bring about 82 cents in resale value for every dollar spent, while a bathroom remodel is $17,500 and returns about three quarters for every dollar.
These average costs and projects are listed in this year’s Remodeling publication’s Cost v. Value Report found at remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2015.
The best return or the biggest “bang for your buck” is a new steel front door.
Average Washington cost: $1,241. How does a return of $1.13 sound for every dollar invested in a new door?
Jim Lynch of Foxcraft Design Group says a new front door has “curb appeal,” and if the old door “is hard to open or is leaky,” it makes sense to replace it.
He and Merelyn Kaye of McEnearney Associates have other, cheaper ideas for home sellers: de-clutter and clean, clean, clean.
For the yard “the best things you can do, trim the bushes, mulch, and make sure nothing is peeling,” Lynch said.
Bethany Ellis of Long & Foster Real Estate said about $2,000 is enough to update a kitchen “as long as the cabinets are okay.”
She said granite or stone counter tops, stainless steel appliances, paint, and new floors can make a huge difference in a sales price.
Jason Denny with Denny + Gardner who was at 2119 Westmoreland directing a remodeling job, agreed.
“A new state-of-the-art kitchen, bathroom, new wooden floors sell it quick,” Gardner said.
The owner of the Westmoreland house chose new cement siding for her house which the reports considers an “upscale” improvement (average area cost, $14,300, with an 84 percent return), but “in this neighborhood” in Falls Church, it makes sense, Denny said, and he pointed to a neighbor’s house with less expensive vinyl siding ($12,500 cost and a 79 percent return).
Remodeling for a home office (almost $30,000 in the region with a 55 percent return) may not make financial sense to sell a home, but “if a house has an office, it’s a good thing,” Ellis said. Especially in this area where a huge number work from home, “an office is a benefit.”
Kaye agreed: “People do like offices,” but if’s it’s a remake from a bedroom, turn it (and all rooms) back to their original uses to sell the house.
“Is it my home or my bank account?” is a question Lynch said sellers need to ask themselves. “Am I selling my house next week or next month?” Do I want to live in it or sell it? The answers make a difference.
Organizing does, too.
“Re-do the closets so you can find your shoes,” to avoid buying new ones which you can’t find in your own house, Lynch said.
Do not neglect the little projects, the ones many avoid since they are not that hard, but “one little thing becomes three big things,” Lynch said.
Ellis said an area trend is to bypass “fixer-uppers” because buyers are so busy and don’t have the time to do it themselves.
“It’s better to invest in the house rather than reduce the price,” she said, “Things that can done so that the buyer doesn’t have to do anything” accelerates sales, and $10,000 invested is a good sum “to get it ready.”
Kaye said professional home staging is absolutely critical to selling a house.
“Anyone who doesn’t have a home stager is making a serious, serious mistake. An interior decorator is different from a home stager” since stagers “know what appeals to the public.”
Money for a wooden deck ($10,000 and 96 percent return) “would be money well spent,” Kaye said. She has sold plenty of homes without a deck, but most houses “need one or a patio.” It’s rare for someone to demand a screened-in porch.
Forget about sunrooms to sell (60 percent regional return), and back-up generators dropped 15 points nationally in one year to second to last on the ROI list, after weather-related issues (Hurricane Sandy) boosted them in previous years.
Ike Jariri of All Remodeling and Construction said he has “never heard anyone say a generator was important” in buying a home, and over the 45 years she has spent in real estate, Kaye has “not had anyone ever ask me about one, but we are thinking about it” for her own home.