Conventional wisdom says that homeowners tend to live in their houses about 7 years before they sell and move. Whether you intend to stay in your own home a longer or shorter period than that, you may be considering how the improvements you make might affect the resale value of your home down the road. Not all home improvements will give you the same return on investment, so you need to choose wisely if you want to boost the value of your home without overspending.
Before you decide on any improvement to make, you should consider some general points about home improvement. First, improving your home way beyond what is typical for homes in your neighborhood, or adding a feature that is out of step with your home’s general architecture, is unlikely to pay off, and may even turn off future buyers. In a similar vein, design elements that are difficult to change easily, such as tile or countertops, are best done in neutral colors, to appeal to a wider variety of tastes. Finally, no addition or remodel is going to capture a buyer’s interest if the general maintenance of your house has been neglected. Make sure you maintain and upgrade your home’s basic systems as necessary.
According to a March 2014 U.S. News & World Report article, the top renovations with the greatest return on investment were entry door replacement (96.6%), adding a wooden deck (87.4%), converting an attic to a bedroom (84.3%), garage door replacement (83.7%), and minor kitchen remodel (82.7%). However, when considering a remodeling project, you should think about what your home in particular needs, rather than simply consulting a list of what, on average, brings the biggest bang for the buck. In thinking about resale value, you especially want to consider any features your home might lack relative to other homes in the neighborhood.
For example, if your home is smaller than the average home in your area, you may want to consider a remodeling project that adds extra square footage to your home to boost its value. If your house is the only one-bathroom on the block, a second bathroom could be your best bet for adding value. On the other hand, if your home is pretty typical for your area, then you may want to think about updating the areas of the home that get the most use—kitchen and bathrooms. Attractive, up-to-date kitchens and baths are often selling points for prospective buyers. And make sure you strike a balance between improving the interior and exterior of your home. Like a book’s cover, a home’s curb appeal can lead potential purchasers to make a snap judgment—and walk away if they don’t like what they see.
When you’re thinking about what future owners of your home might like, however, don’t forget the comfort and preferences of its current owner—you! Even if you only intend to stay in your home a few years after the completion of your remodeling project, make sure you put priority on what will make your home more enjoyable for you. Chances are, prospective buyers will see the value in the comforts you add and the improvements you make to your home, whatever they are, just as much as you do.