What’s it worth? | SteamboatToday.com

What’s it worth?

Before embarking on any large home improvement project, calculate what the payoff is — now and in the future

Bob Payne
For the Steamboat Pilot & Today

The mind of a homebuyer is an elusive thing. Which is why it’s so difficult to figure out what home renovations might convince them to sign a contract, and how much those renovations can impact your selling price. Here is the projected value of five of the most popular choices. Just bear in mind that the real merit of any upgrade should be your homeowner.

Kitchen cabinets

When thinking about a renovation that can increase your home’s value, or the day-to-day pleasure of living there, the first space most people turn to is the kitchen. A major kitchen renovation requires a substantial commitment of time and money. But to bring you a little joy, or catch the eye of a potential buyer, keep it simple and update the cabinets. You can have them custom designed for tens of thousands of dollars. Or for far less, and almost the same effect, get them resurfaced with a permanent veneer of wood or laminate; according to houselogic.com it’s about half the cost of replacing them outright. (Re-facing cabinets in a small 10×12-foot kitchen with wood veneer should cost under $5,000.) More cost effective is a coat of paint in a universally popular color and an update of hardware to whatever’s trending.

Zero-threshold shower

Bathrooms rank just behind kitchens as the most popular and worthwhile area for home renovations. Yet while a down-to-the-studs bathroom remodel can cost substantially more than you’ll get back from it (somewhere around a 55 percent return on investment), tackling something less ambitious, such as replacing the old shower-bathtub combo with a zero-threshold walk-in shower, makes sense. Zero-threshold showers offer a contemporary look while also eliminating worries about accessibility for older homeowners and potential buyers. Removing the old tub and shower and getting the new shower pan to slope into the drain isn’t a do-it-yourself job, so expect to pay up to $5,000 for the work. But this is offset by the value you’ll add to the house and the length of time you’ll live in it.

Pointers from a pro: Selling (and showing) secrets to make your home shine

For more hints on how to best showcase your home, we went to Jon Wade of The Steamboat Group. Here are a few of his tips to make your home more appealing.

“Our homes here are extra special to us because we’ve made so many memories in them. Because of that, we often have a lot of things that are tied to those memories but that can hold us back from moving forward. And it’s a bit different in Steamboat, which is both a down-to-earth family town and a sporty town. Keep that in mind while paring things down. In a lot of locations we’re told to put away personal photos to let buyers imagine themselves in your home. But here it seems potential owners enjoy imagining the memories they can make in your home; so photos can be a big plus.

“This also goes for gear. It never gets old walking into a home where you can see the owners make the most of living here. A race bib, neatly organized skis, bikes and camping gear help the next owner picture the life they could have in this home. Leave the things that speak to why we love being in Steamboat.

“Also look for the biggest things that will give a potential owner pause. This can be furniture, dated paint, carpet, kitchens and bathrooms. What might seem perfect in your eyes the next owner might view as a remodel.

“Help a potential owner see the opportunities in various projects. Walk-throughs with different buyers helps prioritize changes that need to be made. Also, bring in a designer who can reimagine the space by adding or replacing easy things so a buyer can look past that. I had one designer create a plan for a townhome with some distracting elements for less than $10,000 that made it look like a whole new place; the owner could see the benefit instantly. Buyers appreciate fresh elements that make a home shine.”

Repair/replace windows

Replacing windows with modern, more energy-efficient models is always popular. You get an updated look, a reduction in your utility bill and environmental cred. However, new windows can be expensive: Top-end models can cost as much as $1,500 apiece. And since it could take decades to see a return on investment in terms of energy savings, experts agree it often makes more sense to repair old windows rather than replace them, especially if their style contributes to a home’s character. There are good arguments to the contrary, such as if an old window frame is rotted or you want to be as green as possible. But often, a bit of caulking, a little sanding and a coat of paint will allow an old window to look and function nearly as well as new.

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood floors have been eye-pleasers for centuries and remain hugely popular. But their initial cost is high, about three times the cost of carpeting — so installing them (or less expensive engineered wood) to boost your home’s selling price might not be your best investment. If the original flooring needs to be upgraded, a better solution is probably carpeting or even laminate flooring, which mimics hardwood but lacks its lifespan. However, if you’re staying put hardwood’s cost should be less of a concern — both for the natural beauty it brings and because it’s easier to keep clean than carpeting. And if refinished appropriately, it can outlast the life of the house.

A fresh coast of paint

You can add stainless appliances, quartz counter tops and gold-tone bathroom fixtures, but almost nothing will increase the appeal of a room more than a fresh coat of paint. Online database company Zillow says the shade you choose can make thousands of dollars of difference in your home’s ultimate selling price. Popular choices tend to be light, soft hues such as pale beige and taupe. According to homeadvisor.com, the cost to paint an average 10×12 room will be between $380 and $790, not including ceilings, trim or the paint. And keep in mind that while competent homeowners can often do the job themselves, usually about halfway through the significant prep work required, almost everyone decides it’s a task for professionals, after all.

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