12 Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home
Are you thinking of remodeling your home? Whether you are thinking of selling in the near future or making the improvement for your own enjoyment, you should make sure you are increasing the value of your home by keeping in mind the resale value of any investment you are making.
First and foremost, know that when you sell, you never get 100 cents on the dollar, no matter what the improvement. Your room addition or kitchen remodel may increase the value of the property, but not dollar for dollar.
That means you need to be careful when you plan home improvements, renovations or additions.
I have shared below tips to increase the value of your Marin County Home with the best updates to turn your home into the dream home of today’s buyer without going overboard. I would be happy to discuss with you in person what is appropriate for your home, neighborhood and particular situation in today’s market.
MAKING YOUR HOME SMART
If you are undertaking a major remodel of the entire home, you should consider including features such as, among others, outlets in the garage for your electric car, temperature control, security, lights and audio systems you can control from your iPhone, rain catchment systems and solar panels to reduce your energy bills. These features appeal especially to Millenial buyers. Click here for more information about Making Your Home Smart.
REMODELING YOUR KITCHEN
In today real estate world, kitchens are often the most critical part of a home for potential buyers, and the first room they want to see when they visit a house. Even if people don’t cook, they want a spectacular kitchen. It is much more than a place to cook meals, it is the focal point, the heart of every home, the place where everyone gathers and it has replaced the living room in today’s lifestyle. Kitchens opening to a breakfast nook and family room are in very high demand.
While there’s no hard and fast rule on how much you should invest in a kitchen to increase the value of your Marin County home, or how much of a return you’ll get on that investment, you can generally expect to recoup a good portion of your investment if you make improvements that make sense for your type of property.
The key when remodeling is not to over-improve for your location. When it comes to resale value, add a high-end, luxury kitchen only if you have a high-end, luxury property.
What does it mean in Marin County? Today’s high end buyers will typically pay a premium for exotic marbles and opulent finishes in the most expensive Marin County homes priced at $10 million and up, and it may help your home stand out from the competition.
If you own a large home in Tiburon in a neighborhood where properties sell for over $3 million, and undertake a full remodel of your kitchen with custom built cabinetry, high quality marble counter tops and top of the line appliances, you are likely to recover a substantial portion of your investment, between 60 and 100 percent.
But if you live in a neighborhood where homes sell for around $1,000,000, don’t expect to sell your home for $2,000,000 because you spent a small fortune turning into a “palace.” Buyers are apprehensive about buying the most expensive house on the street. Regardless of the quality of the upgrades you have made, while your house may sell faster, you will not recoup the investment. The same goes for condominiums and town homes.
Always keep in mind that “over-improving” your property will not increase the square footage of your home if it is on the small side, attract buyers looking for a three or more bedroom house if yours has only two small bedrooms, make up for the poor location of your property or make the loud freeway noise a non-issue.
Let’s look at the current trends in Marin County. White kitchens continue to be all the rage. Dark oak cabinets and granite counter tops have fallen out of favor. The materials of choice for counters are marble and quartz.
While marble is very popular, it is not the most practical choice and does not appeal to buyers who worry about the high maintenance. Marbles develop a patina over time, and they scratch easily and acid etch, even when they are sealed. That being said, remember that all marble was not created equal; the denser the marble (think Carrara marble from Italy) the less absorbent it will be and a honed finished will show stains from acid etching (from lemon juice or wine) less than a polished finish.
More durable and carefree solutions such as quartz or Caesarstone are excellent options. Caesarstone surfaces consist of up to 93% crushed quartz and retain the cool tactile touch of natural stone. I see Caesarstone (or other similar quartz products) in many high end Marin County kitchens and bathrooms more and more frequently. They offer a multitude of finishes to fit into your decor. Pictured below is Caesarstone Staturio Maximus 5031. I love it!
If you do not have the budget, or simply do not want to invest in a full remodel, it is important to show that your kitchen has the potential to become a great kitchen. Low budget remodels can yield a good return when executed properly. I have seen kitchens totally transformed with a simple repainting of the cabinets and addition of new hardware on the cabinet doors. See the before and after photos from the the Home Depot website below. Replacing old appliances with stainless steel appliances also gives a more current look to any kitchen for a reasonable cost.
Regardless of the price point of the property, I always advise my clients to stay fairly neutral in their choices of materials (especially for the back splash where it is my experience that tastes vary greatly) to appeal to the greatest number of prospective buyers. If you like color, use colorful small appliances, art and light fixtures to brighten the space and add personality.
UPGRADING YOUR MASTER SUITE/BATH
Today’s buyers are also looking for luxurious master suites and bathrooms. After the kitchen, buyers want to look at the master suite when visiting a home. They expect a large room, with large closets (walk-in preferably and with custom built inserts,) lots of windows and light, and a large luxurious bathroom with double sinks, a stand alone tub (jet tubs are no longer on trend) and separate stand up shower, as pictured above. Depending on your property’s price range, you may want to do just cosmetic improvements to your master bath (fresh paint, possibly new counter tops) or a full out renovation adding marble counter tops, a stand alone tub and a roomy stand-up shower if your home is $2 million or over. Next to the kitchen, the master bath renovation is the most impactful you can do to increase the value of your Marin County home and provides sellers with an excellent return on investment.
A word of advice: whether you do a full or partial remodel, make sure you have at least one bathtub in one of the bathrooms in your home, preferably the master. Not having a tub can be a deal killer for families with young children and people who enjoy a good soak.
REFINISHING/INSTALLING HARDWOOD FLOORS
Do you already have hardwood floors in your home? If it is scratched, and looking worn and tired? Refinishing it will make it look like new. This is one job you should not do yourself or just hire your friendly handyman to do for you. Make sure to hire a reputable professional. Sanding requires expensive equipment, and you could do serious damage to the floor if you don’t sand evenly. And when it comes to staining a floor, the job requires several workers in order to make sure the rooms can dry at approximately the same time (especially in an open concept floor plan). If there are errors during the process, a homeowner has two choices: start all over again, or buy a large rug!
If your living area is covered with wall to wall carpeting, have you checked to see if there is a beautiful hardwood floor underneath. Removing the carpet and refinishing the wood is a sure way to greatly increase the appeal of your property. Most home owners today do not want carpeting in their home other than in their bedrooms.
Wide wood plank floors are very popular now, but keep in mind that the wide planks shrink and expand more than smaller planks, causing wide gaps between the boards. Again, make sure you work with a very reputable supplier and installer when having hardwood floors installed in your home.
UPDATING ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING
Old/faulty electrical and plumbing systems often show up in home inspection reports at the time of the sale. While updating them may not give your home as much “sex-appeal” as a new kitchen or master bath, it is always a good investment.
If your home’s electrical wiring dates back a few decades, it may be time to bring it into the 21st century. Make sure you hire a reputable electrician to do the work to ensure the safety of your family. Approximately 400 deaths occur every year in the United States due to faulty electrical components, so it’s not worth the risk of injury or death to save a few hundred bucks.
When it comes to plumbing, if your pipes are old, and not made of copper, upgrading them is a good investment and here again you also need to make sure the work is done properly. Who wants to risk leaks or long term mold/mildew problems?
CLEANING/REFINISHING YOUR DECK
A beautifully refinished wood deck not only looks great, protects and extends the life of the wood but it may also help improve the resale value of your home. At a minimum, have your deck power washed and inspect it closely to see if any of the boards need repairing or replacing.
TURNING YOUR BACKYARD INTO A SECOND LIVING ROOM
Finally, the outdoor space, especially the backyard, can also be a key selling–or deal breaking–factor. Our weather is very mild in Marin and allows almost year round outdoor living, so make sure your backyard is inviting every season. Discuss with your agent the profile of buyers you will be targeting and ask him/her what you can do to make the home more appealing to them. The majority of homebuyers want to have an inviting outdoor space that is functional, entertainment and family friendly and an extension of their indoor space. The trend in high end homes in Marin is blurring, or eliminating, the separation between indoor and outdoor space through the use of folding glass walls.
Some of the other most popular elements I witness in Marin include a patio, BBQ, outdoor fire place or fire pit, sound system, an outdoor kitchen, LED or solar powered lighting.
I often get asked whether a pool is a good investment. Again, it depends on your property and where it is located. Are you in Sausalito where the weather tends to be cooler? It’s probably not a smart idea. If you are in Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo or San Rafael where summers are warmer it might be a much better investment. But remember that while some buyers may be attracted by the pool, others may consider it as a liability.
MAKING YOUR LANDSCAPE MORE DROUGHT TOLERANT
More homeowners are using native plants and all types of succulents to reduce their landscaping’s need for high maintenance and water consumption. Keep in mind that a lot of buyers nowadays are asking to see not only your electricity bills but also your water bills. A huge water-guzzling lawn can be a deterrent. Before you install artificial turf however, make sure you do your research. Not all artificial turf was created equal; some of my clients have not been happy with their artificial grass because it gets extremely hot in the sun or is found to be toxic. For more information and great tips, click on this link for my article on drought tolerant gardens.
REPLACING YOUR ROOF/GUTTERS AND WINDOWS
Most homeowners don’t think about their roof or windows until they start leaking. If your roof is reaching the end of its useful life, it is a good idea to replace it before it starts leaking and creating all sorts of water intrusion and potentially mold problems in your home. As a new roof is one of the costliest home improvements, it often gets placed on the back burner until it starts creating major problems.
Buyers typically expect to buy a home with a leak free roof, and will negotiate for the cost of replacing it when they find out it is at the end of its life. So while the initial cost is high, replacing your roof will likely present high returns when you sell your home, in addition to providing you with peace of mind and comfort while you enjoy living in it.
How do you know if you need a new roof? Here is the link to an excellent article that will answer a lot of your questions.
With respect to windows, if your home is drafty, and your electricity bills are high, investing in new double pane windows will bring you relief to both problems.
In both cases, a new roof and new windows will not give you the same satisfaction in terms of cosmetic “wow” factor than a new kitchen or bathroom, but they will greatly improve the comfort of your home and help keep costs down. And since today’s buyers are often asking for utility bills before buying a home to better assess what their ongoing costs will be once they buy your home, this is a very good thing and will increase the value of your Marin County home.
PAINTING YOUR HOME’S INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR
Painting is one of the easiest ways to give your home a face lift. Touching up the paint or completely repainting the interior will give your home the appearance of a well maintained home. Use neutral colors that will appeal to the largest pool of buyers. Grey continues to be popular, but white or off white are also excellent choices.
A fresh coat of paint on the exterior of your home will also greatly increase its curb appeal. Don’t forget the front door! Painting the exterior is a very big job which you can either tackle yourself or contract out to a professional.
PAVING YOUR DRIVEWAY
The driveway is one of the first things you see when arriving at your home. Does it have cracks, holes or bumps? Is is a safety hazard as people could trip over the bumps or tree roots that stick up? This is not an inexpensive project, but a good investment as it enormously improves your home’s curb appeal.
The photos above demonstrate the huge difference a new driveway can make in the aesthetics of your home.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Do-It-Yourselfers, this one is for you. Make sure you hire reputable professionals to do the work in your home. Improper or substandard work will hurt you when you sell your home as the home inspector will be sure to flag it in his report, and buyers will either request the work to be redone by a professional -and up to current code- or will ask for a sizable credit.
In addition, please make sure to get all the required permits when remodeling your home It might seem like a time or money saver in the short term to avoid paying permitting fees, dealing with scheduling inspections and potentially paying higher property taxes, but in the long term it is not worth it at all. As disclosure requirements become more and more onerous for sellers and buyers more savvy (and more litigious,) as Marin cities/towns are increasingly stringent when it comes to non-permitted work at the time of sale, and insurance companies less inclined to honor claims when there is non-permitted work, it makes great sense to get all the permits required when remodeling your home.
To find out how much you can expect to recover from remodeling projects, check the Remodeling 2016 Cost vs. Value Report.
Here are a few links below with more information. You are welcome to contact me for a free consultation to review the best way for you to prepare YOUR HOME for sale and for additional tips to increase the value of your Marin County home.
ADDITIONAL TIPS TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR MARIN COUNTY HOME
Spring Home Selling Tips via Luke Skar
Preparing to Sell Your Home via Bill Gassett.
How Do You Know If You Need a New Roof? via Anita Clark
A Dozen Essentials For A Smooooooth Home Inspection via Charles Buell
Eight Ways to Boost Your Home’s Value via Daniel DiClerico