Home improvements for the resale win!

Real Estate


We all live in a “fixer upper”. Whether big or small, everyone can take steps to increase their home’s resale value and boost its chances on the real estate market. In order to profitably take such steps, one must devise a strategy including examination of budget versus best investment, labor costs and market patterns.

Decide what to do

Invite an expert to examine your home before beginning any renovations. An experienced realtor will know the current market climate and be able to give advice as to specifically what home buyers are seeking. Further prepare yourself by conducting a home inspection. The home improvements most necessary for resale are rarely cosmetic, and it pays to discover problems ahead of time that could negatively affect your home’s value.

Decide when to do it

Once you have decided what in your home warrants your investment, prioritize those things based on necessity and budget.

First, go less ‘sexy’ and more for practical. Dive straight into what may be considered the foundational projects, such as repairs to the roof, heating/cooling and drainage systems, electrical wiring or potentially hazardous landscaping. Think like a buyer — if any of these typically expensive, labor-intensive issues are left unresolved, most will immediately be turned off, no matter how cool the living spaces may be.

“Buyers want to take the basic systems for granted,” explains Sal Alfano, Remodeling’s editorial director. “They assume the roof doesn’t leak and the air conditioning and plumbing work. Maintenance can chew up a lot of cash quickly, and people are afraid of that.”

Your top priority should be to restore or maintain the safety and functionality of your existing structure. Handle those big-ticket items first and then re-evaluate your budget before moving on to the more glamorous projects.

All that is not to say that investments in areas such as fancy kitchens and luxurious bathrooms don’t pay off. In the country’s hottest housing markets, kitchen and bathroom remodels often return 100 percent of homeowners’ investments. Traditional improvements to these rooms include all-wood cabinets, commercial-style appliances, natural wood or stone floors, stone countertops and walk-in showers. Consider, however, your home’s overall layout. For example, if your home only features one full bathroom, it would be wise to install a second before sinking huge funds into remodeling the existing one. 

Decide who should do it

With so many Internet how-to’s available at our fingertips, it’s never been a better time to consider saving some money by tackling a few home improvement projects yourself.

First, assess your resources — funds, time, tools and abilities — versus what is required to complete a quality renovation. Then, grant yourself opportunities to fine-tune your skills before taking on the real thing. For instance, when installing tile, buy an old table at a thrift store, lay down some guide rods (wooden dowels do the trick) and practice laying it before installing it. Or, when painting rooms, start with the smallest area first to see how the paint color looks and to gain some hands-on training before moving on to the kitchen or living room.

Especially take time to practice endeavors such as DIY roof repairs. Repairing your own roof requires a high quality nail gun, galvanized roofing nails, half-inch plywood, roofing tar, felt paper, roofing shingles and some serious guts, but it can be done. The key to success is starting from the bottom and working up, as well as being generous with overlay of the shingles in order to ensure protection from the elements.

Even tiny improvements can go a long way. Other small DIY projects yielding big rewards are the removal of excess clutter, the allowance of more natural light and the replacement of worn carpets or rugs.

No matter the project, in what order it is completed or whose hands complete it, anything that increases the resale value of your home is worth it. Get started today!