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It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI

August 20, 2020

painting kitchen cabinets

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DIY home improvements can be great feel-good projects. You get to learn a new skill, use your hands, and take pride in something you create yourself.

But let’s face it: Your DIY project doesn’t make sense if it won’t make cents. In other words, it needs to pay off when it comes time to sell your home.

“The key to winning the ROI game with home improvement is to take a less-is-more approach,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor.

If your goal is to earn a return on your DIY investment, DiClerico suggests taking on smaller improvements that will have a big impact on buyers.

“Bells and whistles tend not to rank high on ROI,” DiClerico says. “The high-tech home theater might mean hours of fun for you and the family, but it’s probably not going to pay for itself when the time comes to sell.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit your house with the latest technology—if you’re making an improvement that you’ll love and enjoy, go for it. But if you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and tackle a project that will offer serious bang for the buck, try one of these home improvement projects next weekend.

1. Refresh your kitchen cabinets

“If the cabinets are in good shape, adding a fresh coat of paint or stain will dramatically transform the feel of the entire kitchen,” DiClerico says.

Be warned: Even though painting isn’t very difficult, it’s still time-consuming. You’ll need to remove the doors and drawers to ensure a clean finish. “But in terms of skill level, it’s something even novice DIYers can handle,” DiClerico says.

And remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to any painting project.

“You could lose some buyers with a sloppy paint job,” says Scott W. Campbell, a real estate agent in Milwaukee. “If you truly want to increase ROI, a good paint job takes time and patience.”

2. Create curb appeal

Making a great first impression on home buyers is one of the quickest ways to boost your home’s value.

“Landscaping and gardening are the biggest ones that also are simple,” says Kendall Bonner, a real estate agent in Lutz, FL. “Curb appeal has a significant impact on buyer’s purchasing decisions.”

Aside from adding tasteful foliage and keeping your lawn manicured, a few strings of café lights can also improve your home’s outdoor space and curb appeal. Don’t forget to paint old fences and prune overgrown plants.

3. Give your front door a makeover

Want to boost your home’s curb appeal but don’t have a green thumb? Spruce up your front door instead. All it takes is a few coats of paint. (The same rules apply: Work slowly and carefully to avoid drips and roller marks.)

“A fresh pop of color at the front door is a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal for not a lot of money or time,” DiClerico says.

4. Create a backyard deck

“Outdoor living is hugely popular, even more so since the pandemic, since people are looking to expand their home’s usable living space,” DiClerico says.

Creating a new deck is possible to do yourself, but “it’s not for the faint of heart,” he adds, especially if you’re putting in concrete footings for the deck posts. This project is best for intermediate to advanced renovators, and it helps to have a few friends on board to assist.

Keep the design simple—avoid any tricky changes in elevation—and work with pressure-treated lumber instead of hardwoods that are tough to cut and screw into, DiClerico says.

5. Brighten up the basement

You don’t need to spring for a fully finished basement to appeal to prospective buyers.

“Spraying the basement unfinished ceiling with flat black latex paint can make big difference to clean up a look, and spraying the walls,” Campbell says.

To take your project to the next level, you can add carpeting and adjustable lighting. By cleaning up the basement, you can help prospective buyers envision a space that will fit their needs, whether it’s as a rec room, play area, or home gym.

6. Add more storage

“Anytime you add usable living space to the home, you increase its value,” DiClerico says. “That’s true now more so than ever given all the time we’re spending at home.”

Making an addition to your home might not be realistic. But smaller improvements, like adding a pantry in the kitchen, a new storage unit in the garage, or even closet organizers, add valuable storage space to your home and will pay off when you’re ready to sell.

7. Make small repairs and keep up with maintenance

It may not be as satisfying as tackling a big project, but staying on top of your home’s basic maintenance is just as important and promises serious ROI.

“Many of today’s buyers are staying away from fixer-uppers in favor of move-in ready homes that won’t require frequent repairs,” DiClerico says.

Seemingly small problems like a leaky faucet, loose gutter, or missing light fixture can be a red flag.

“When buyers see things like that, they think to themselves, ‘What else is wrong with this house that I can’t see?’” DiClerico says. “Spending a few hundred dollars on these small repairs will let the buyer know that this house has been cared for.”

The post It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How Much Does Home Staging Cost—and How Much Will You Gain?

June 25, 2019

Home staging

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Home staging—where you decorate your house in an effort to entice buyers to bite—may seem counterintuitive at first blush: Why spend money on real estate if you’re moving out? Simple answer: because home staging can get you more money for your home sale.

If your real estate agent has suggested staging, it’s because evidence shows staging real estate is usually well worth the effort. On average, staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more than nonstaged homes, which is nothing to sneeze at. But just how much does home staging really cost? Here’s the scoop, so you can decide if paying a professional stager is worth the investment for you.

How much will staging a home cost?

File this one under “obvious”—but the pricier the staged home, the higher the potential home staging costs. As a general rule of thumb, the average cost for most stagers is $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and $500 to $600 per month per staged room.

“Therefore, staging a 2,000-square-foot home would cost around $2,000 to $2,400 a month,” explains real estate professional Crystal Leigh Hemphill. Most professional home stagers also require a three-month minimum staging contract, “even if you sell the home in 24 hours.” That could bring your final staging bill to $7,200.

Home staging might sound expensive, but if you own a vacant home, for example, you’re already paying lots of bills every month that your unstaged house sits empty. If a home stager can help buyers envision how fabulous your living room looks with a little classy furniture and tasteful decor, the costs of home staging may be some of the best money you have ever spent.

What can make staging cost more?

Most home stagers work with the knickknacks and art that the homeowner already owns. But sometimes home stagers “need to purchase new accessories, fresh towels, flowers, and/or fruit, as these small touches make a big difference,” says Sheila Schostok with Your Home Matters Staging and Redesign, which serves Chicago and southeastern Wisconsin. This is especially true with a vacant house. The stagers’ new purchases will add to the overall cost of the project.

The layout of your home could also add a cha-ching to the home staging costs. Home stagers often use lightweight versions of basic furniture pieces. However, a home staging job that requires heavy lifting in a multistory house still usually means hiring additional help to move furniture, says Schostok.

And if you’re listing a vacant home because you’ve already moved out, you’re looking at home staging costs that include rental fees for every stick of furniture and all furnishing and decor items from a stager.

Conversely, if you inherited a ton of antiques (or have a One King’s Lane addiction), the stager may recommend you declutter by putting excess knickknacks into storage, tacking that monthly rental onto your overall staging costs. Staging services may also suggest that sellers declutter and depersonalize the home by removing unusual, religious or political, and personal items, so home buyers can more easily envision themselves living in the home.

A final expense, an important one that can help ensure staging success, is the price of painting a room. A fresh coat in a 12-by-12-foot room will cost a DIYer around $200, or $400 to $700 if left to the pros.

How to save on the cost of home staging

You don’t have to pay a home stager to transform the decor of your entire house from basement laundry room to attic storage.

“A great way to save money when staging is by only focusing on the main areas of a home,” says Schostok.

These are the rooms potential buyers would spend the most time in—the kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom. You’ll also want to pay attention to what the buyers see when they first step in the front door. That first impression, whether it be a bare, unstaged home or an inviting, perfectly staged one, can make the difference in whether they decide to buy and how much they are willing to pay for your house.

Another cost-saving home staging option is to limit yourself to an initial consultation with a home stager, instead of full-service staging. When Schostok does a home staging walk-through with the homeowner, offering home staging tips to maximize the potential for each room, “the price is far less, $125 for 90 minutes.”

You may want to ask your real estate agent if she thinks your home would benefit from home staging. Your agent may also recommend a home staging service or even offer other cost-saving tips besides staging, based on her experience showing real estate to buyers. For example, your agent may recommend that you start by decluttering your home yourself, or spend the money on a specific home improvement task, instead of hiring a professional stager, depending on her own first-time impression of your home.

The biggest cost savings for home sellers who use home staging? Selling their home faster, at a better price, and without months of carrying costs—because their house was properly staged and buyer-ready.

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Watch: How to Stage Your Home Like a Pro

The post How Much Does Home Staging Cost—and How Much Will You Gain? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Bonus Points for Bonus Rooms: 8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Flex Space

February 1, 2019

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Home buyers love to get the most space for their money. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 66% of millennials cite more living space as the No. 1 reason for buying a house. So if you’re selling a home with a bonus bedroom, a finished basement, or an extra-large landing on the second floor that could be used for something, you’re adding a lot of extra value.

But are you really highlighting the glorious potential of that space to buyers?

Remember, you’re not just selling a house; you’re selling an aspirational lifestyle! So whether you’re showcasing an attic hobby room, a gamer’s paradise in the basement, or a wellness retreat on the second floor, consider these strategic staging tips to make that flex space shine.

1. Avoid giving rooms a split personality

For optimal results when selling, execute a single theme in your bonus room, says Howard Andrews, a licensed broker with Knipe Realty in Portland, OR.

Someone who craves a spot to paint landscapes probably doesn’t want one that also crams in an elliptical trainer and a double bed. And a young couple imagining a sweet nursery won’t be impressed if their future baby’s room is also a makeshift potting shed with hydroponic herbs sprouting below bright lights.

“You really want potential buyers to be able to imagine themselves in your house,” Andrews says.

2. Get physical with a yoga studio or gym

The number of Americans practicing yoga and meditation has surged in the past couple of years, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health. So staging your bonus space as the perfect spot to get healthy makes it an attractive alternative to the gym (and a budget-savvy one, too), says Michael Sinatro, broker-owner of the Sinatro Co. and an accredited home stager in West Hartford, CT.

“When buyers come across a home that has a meditation or yoga room—a calming, Zen kind of place—people’s gut reaction is how they wish they had one,” he says. “In our overscheduled digital world, people are yearning for peace, mindfulness, and a moment of quiet.”

Sinatro suggests keeping the decor simple: a yoga mat or two, some plants, and a nook in the corner piled with comfy pillows.

“A home gym is also appealing, especially when you have things like rubber mats, a water cooler, and mirrors on the wall,” he adds. But skip the giant stair-climbing machine if the room has low ceilings—it will only draw attention to that feature.

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Watch: Home Staging Secrets the Experts Wish You Knew in Advance

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3. Consider getting crafty

There’s no reason to spend piles of cash to stage an extra room for a nonexistent purpose, but if you’re passionate about a hobby and can showcase the space attractively, do so. A new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 1 in 5 Americans finds hobbies make their lives more meaningful.

“My wife would probably fall in love with a house that has an organized sewing and crafting space, and I think that’s true for a lot of couples, because we’re seeing a lot more of the do-it-yourself crowd becoming more mainstream,” says Andrews.

“Buyers also value extra storage everywhere, so built-in storage is a great asset for a hobby space. Good lighting is also a must.”

An industrial-style long table and freestanding bookshelves also help define a hobby room.

4. Gear up for a gaming room

One recent survey reported that 65% of U.S. households regularly play video games. Buyers who love gaming will appreciate a space with plenty of electrical outlets that can accommodate consoles or charge wireless joysticks, gaming computers, and even vintage arcade machines.

“A gaming space has to be a large enough to accommodate a table with about 3 feet around every side of the table—it gives people enough room to get around each other,” says Andrews.

5. Trick out an office with awesome storage

With nearly 4 million U.S. employees telecommuting at least half the time, home offices are hugely desirable. But don’t just stick a cheap desk in a room, slap a lamp on it, and call it an office. Create the kind of office where people can picture themselves producing their best work.

“You’re selling what buyers picture themselves to be,” Sinatro explains.

Add some tall storage with lots of shelving that’s well-designed, plus a small seating area, and you’ll show all the options in a nice space, he says.

6. Create a dream closet and dressing room

According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than 40% of first-time home buyers consider a walk-in closet essential. So if your home’s master bedroom is short on storage, consider spending about $1,500 to transform an adjacent bedroom into an Instagram-worthy walk-in closet, with tons of hanging space and shoe cubbies—and maybe even a storage island in the center of the room.

7. Don’t forget the Big D’s: Declutter and depersonalize

Spare rooms that just showcase piles of things you can’t find space for is a surefire way to tank a sale, no matter how great your home is.

“People might be very forgiving when they see a cluttered garage, but if your third bedroom is full of boxes, it’s really hard to get past that cluttered impression,” Andrews  says.

8. Downsizing? Stage your space authentically

If you’re new empty nesters planning on moving to a condo, you might be tempted to stage your home so a young family sees themselves there. But resist the temptation to revamp the entire house.

“While you want to appeal to as many buyers as possible, you don’t want to fake a playroom if you don’t have children,” Sinatro says.

Similarly, if you’re not an artist, staging a bedroom as a bright art studio just won’t work.

“If something is genuinely your passion, that will come across to buyers, as long as it’s clean and simple,” he adds.

The post Bonus Points for Bonus Rooms: 8 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Flex Space appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.