Spring means different things to different people: outdoor activities, gardening, spring break. But for homeowners, it often means it’s time to start checking items off your home projects to-do list. From trimming trees to cleaning gutters to washing windows, spring is the time to do a tune-up on your home and clean up after Old Man Winter.
But if you’ve lived in your home for a while, it may need more than a typical once-over this year, particularly if you’re thinking of selling anytime soon.
Redfin real estate agents were asked which home projects they suggest for homeowners who are considering selling their homes in the near future and want to add value. Here are the 10 projects they mentioned most frequently. For larger projects, we include information from the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report,* which compares average cost for 35 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 101 U.S. cities.
1. A new front door or garage door
Orange County agent Angela Creech said a new front door or garage door is one of the best returns on investment that she’s seen. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, she’s right: Replacing an entry door with a steel door would cost an average of $1,162 and would recoup 96.6 percent of that cost when it comes time to sell, the highest return on investment seen in this year’s report. A garage door replacement was also in the top five projects.
2. Kitchen remodel
Kitchen updates were mentioned as a valuable project by almost all of the agents we surveyed. According to the Cost vs. Value Report, a minor kitchen remodel costs an average of $18,856 and will recoup 82.7 percent. But even small improvements can make a big difference. San Francisco agent Mia Simon suggests, “If you have good quality cabinets that are outdated, have them sanded and repainted white. This instantly makes them look new at a fraction of the cost.”
3. Bathroom remodel
Just like the kitchen, the bathroom is a key selling point for many buyers. A bathroom remodel will cost an average of $16,128 and recoup 72.5 percent, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. But even minor updates can make a big difference. “Replace all bathroom fixtures with brushed chrome fixtures, which instantly makes the bathroom look more current,” Simon says. Along those same lines, Denver agent Paul Stone suggests replacing caulking around tubs, sinks and anywhere else it exists in the home. “It’s worth every penny and gives the right first impression,” he says.
4. Replace windows
San Diego agent Cherée Bray advises homeowners to install dual pane windows. “If you have the extra money for this, they are very attractive and people really find value in them,” she says. Replacing 10 existing 3-by-5-foot double-hung windows with insulated, low-E windows costs an average of $16,798 for wood frames and $13,385 for vinyl, according to the Cost vs. Value Report. Those projects recoup 74 percent and 76.6 percent of their cost, respectively.
5. A fresh coat of paint
Painting was the project mentioned most frequently by Redfin agents. Chicago agent Sondra Savino said a client was able to make an additional $15,000 on the sale price of a home by painting the home’s exterior at a cost of about $3,000. A freshly painted front door and entryway makes a great welcoming statement for the home, and a coat of paint in a soothing color can refresh any interior space.
6. Update hardware
Just as new fixtures can bring a home into the present, updated hardware can create a modern look for a small investment. Chicago agent Nathan Brecht suggests updating hardware in the kitchen and bathroom.
Simon suggests landscaping your backyard to highlight its size and dimensions. “Cut down on any overgrown bushes and just plant a lawn with a border of small neutral flowers around the perimeter of the backyard,” she says. And “a little bark for ground cover is an inexpensive way to make a yard look taken care of,” Creech says.
8. Service all systems
9. Clean all appliances
Stone in Denver suggests that homeowners clean the oven and stove, since “dirty appliances give a wrong impression.” When you decide to sell, do a thorough cleaning of any appliances.
10. Minimize and declutter
Stone advises homeowners to make rooms seem bigger by getting rid of belongings, and to remove as much as possible off of flat spaces: countertops, vanities, the top of the refrigerator, shelves, etc.
“Anything reaching to the ceiling makes the room feel smaller,” he says.
*© 2014 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com