Remodeling Projects That Pay

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Remodeling Projects That Pay

By Celeste M. Smucker –

If you are dreaming about fabulous renovations for your home, you may also wonder how much they will add to its value when it’s time to sell.

While economic factors are not the only reason to renovate, they are a good place to start. 

Once you know how much of your investment may come back to you at closing, you can take into consideration other issues that may be even more important such as convenience, aesthetics and just plain enjoyment.

Highest Return Remodeling Projects
To answer the question about how valuable a renovation may be to your home’s next owner,  a great place to start is Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs Value Report.

The report is based on a nationwide survey that generates annual cost estimates for 21 popular remodeling projects. The costs are compared to local REALTOR® estimates of what the same upgrades will add to the value of a home.  The result gives an idea of how much of your investment may come back to you in the form of a bigger check when you sell.

While the Charlottesville and Waynesboro-Staunton markets were not part of the survey, it did include Richmond. 

In the Richmond market the percentage return on several projects was impressive:  minor kitchen remodel (82.6 percent),  steel entry door replacement (82.1 percent), manufactured stone veneer siding (81.4 percent), garage door replacement (79 percent) and siding replacement (77.9 percent).  Roofing replacement (69.9 percent) and wood deck addition (69.4 percent) were also good choices. 

Notice how, except for kitchen remodel, the best returns are for exterior projects reflecting the high premium agents put on curb appeal.  Traditionally curb appeal was important for enticing those driving by to call their agents about seeing the inside.  Today, however, your house must also look its best in photos viewed by buyers who start their home search online. 

The robust return on kitchen upgrades may underline the continuing importance of this room as an informal gathering place for family and friends. This is also part of a larger trend in home design that features open floor plans allowing people to move easily from the family room into the kitchen and back again.

When Will You Sell
If selling is in your foreseeable future, the cost versus value figures can give you an idea of renovations that make the most economic sense. Before you proceed, though, there are some other issues to keep in mind. 

First, how soon do you want to sell?  If you plan to put your home on the market next spring, your best bet is to concentrate on minor repairs like fixing leaky pipes, painting the walls neutral colors and neatening up the landscaping.  You will also want to declutter and stage the interior so it looks its best.   

Talk to your REALTOR® about getting your home ready for the spring market. Their advice will take into consideration the popularity of your neighborhood, the condition of your house and whether or not you are in competition with new homes.

If your move is further in the future, consider how much your family will enjoy the renovations before you move. If you love sitting outdoors, adding a deck might be just the thing, or if you expect a big crowd over the holidays, giving your kitchen a face lift could pay big dividends in the form of good times and warm feelings. 

Low Maintenance
Freeing up time for pursuits other than home maintenance could be another reason to renovate.  Agents report that for today’s buyers low maintenance is very much in demand.

Decks that don’t require regular staining and sealing, smaller yards and/or low maintenance landscaping, and hardiplank siding are good examples, said Susan Stewart with Roy Wheeler Realty Co.

Keeping maintenance low is also why many home owners love quartz countertops, said Amy Hart with Dovetail Design and Cabinetry. Her clients like that quartz is non-porous, doesn’t stain, and never needs sealing.  You can also pick from a lot of “cool colors” she continued.

Anna Posner, Manager of the Southern Development Homes Design Center, agrees that low maintenance is one of the things home buyers ask for most. 

A popular example is commercial-grade laminate flooring  that “offers the look of real wood with the latest technology making it virtually no maintenance,” Posner said.  The flooring even holds up well to pets and high heels and it’s very easy to care for,  “just sweep and swiffer,” she added. 

Design Updates
Before you renovate learn about design trends by visiting builder open houses in new home communities or attending the upcoming Parade of Homes in October. Not only will you get new ideas, but you can talk to builders and agents on site about which upgrades have the greatest appeal to home buyers.

For example, shiplap continues to be popular said Jodi Mills with Nest Realty Group. She suggests using it in white, unfinished or natural.     

Functional and protective tile backsplashes are also in demand Hart said, explaining that concrete tiles are especially adaptable offering a range of colors and styles. 

Another interesting kitchen trend is farm house sinks, said Ron Fisher, Owner and President of Charlottesville Noland. Available in materials as diverse as stainless, copper and  Corian®,  these large sinks have special appeal to aging-in-place buyers because they make it easier to wash bulky items like pots and pans.

Renovations can pay in many ways including a bigger check at closing or a shorter time on the market when you list your home. However, the intangible benefits may be even more rewarding, especially if you will be staying in your home for awhile. For more information and advice contact your REALTOR® today.


Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.

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