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Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck!


Realtor Magazine January 2010 issue has a great article I wanted to share entitled, “10 Big Impact, Low Cost Remodeling Projects.”  I found it interesting as Laura and I specialize in getting our sellers’ homes ready for sale and more often than not a lot of these projects + a list of our own is included here.  Nice to get some affirmation that our list matches up in most cases with this list.  Here it is:

1) Tidy up the Kitchen Cabinets – Potential buyers do open the kitchen cabinets.  Homeowners can add roll out organizer trays so that when buyers peek in, they feel like there’s lots of room for their stuff.  (This holds true for your closets too – adding closet organizing systems are well worth the investment.)

2) Add or replace tile – By retiling very inexpensively, you make a room look way cleaner than it was.  Wake up a tired kitchen backsplash or bathroom vanity with new tile.

3) Add a breakfast bar – When a wall separates a kitchen from dining or family room, cut out an opening between the two rooms, add some granite or tile countertop, pull up a couple of barstools and voila – breakfast bar.  Taking the entire wall down may also bring back some of the expense as well, as open floor plans are one of the buzz words these days.

4) Install granite tile instead of a slab – Everybody likes a “granite kitchen.”  Installing granite tiles can be a much more budget friendly way to perk up that kitchen than the higher end slab material.  Although in our higher-end market, it may be worth the money to install the slab.  There are many “pre-fab” granite installers these days, that can do granite counters for much less than the custom guys.

5) Freshen up a bathroom without retiling – With a dated bathroom, putting in a new medicine cabinet ($100-$150), light fixtures ($75- $100), a faucet ($75 – $100), and a vanity ($200 – $300) can bring back your investment right away.  Add a new glass shower door for extra panache.  Bathrooms are on the “highly important” list of most buyers.  This is somewhere you really want to spend money and make it right.

6) Freshen up the basement – a finished basement is very well received vs. a cement block storage room (like most basements.)  Most of us here in Southern California don’t have basements however – so this isn’t on the top of many lists here.

7) Add a room – Look for large spaces that can be enclosed to create a new bedroom for just the price of creating a wall.   Especially when it’s a 2 bedroom home, a 3 bedroom is much more desirable in today’s market.  With more and more people working from home a 4th bedroom is even more desirable.

8) Spruce up cabinet fronts – painting, re-facing, re-conditioning, adding new hardware are all great ideas for cleaning up the kitchen and adding that “updated” look.  In this same vein, how are the appliances in the kitchen?  Adding a new appliance suite (matching finish) can be quite affordable as long as you stay in the mid-range of choices.  This highly appeals to buyers.

9) Replace light fixtures – In foyers, bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms – all those old overhead light fixtures – change them out for newer, more modern fixtures.  And if the kitchen has one of those fluorescent light boxes – get rid of that and put in new drywall and can lights.  This is big bang for the buck.

10) Tech up the garage – Replacing the garage door opener with a remote touch pad entry system ($425) makes it look like a high end system.  Also consider a new roll up garage door and opener in place of an old manual door.  Those really date a house.

I am going to add #11 to the list as well as a few other important light remodeling projects that will reward you with big returns upon the sale of your home.  #11 to me is one of the most important projects any homeowner can embark upon to bring big returns!

11) Painting – inside and out.  Wow, now this really can update a home instantly as well as clean it up and make it ready for a new buyer.  This will bring you the biggest bang for the buck!

12) Landscaping – get rid of those old 1950’s shrubs and put in some more up-to-date environmentally friendly plantings.

13) Front door – the curb appeal of your house is so important and as the buyers stand at the front door awaiting their agent getting the keys they notice the front door and patio.  Make this area shine.

14) New interior door hardware – Do your door handles match?  Are they working?  This really updates a house – believe it or not.

15) De-Cluttering – this requires little monetary investment – merely time packing or giving away.  The less the buyer has to focus on that is not your house, the better!  Put it away and save time packing after your house is sold!

If you need us to come and help you get your house ready for sale, we will go through room by room with you as to the many changes you can make to help get your more bang for the buck!

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