By home fix, I don’t mean that you are addicted to your home, and you need a fix by being there. This may be the case, but it’s not my intent. I mean home fix up.
Rather, my intent is to give you advice based on my years of being a real estate agent, as to which areas of your home you should fix, in order to ensure the best chance of getting the money and time you put into fixing your home, out when it comes time to sell it.
This may also assist you, if you know you have many areas of your home that needs fixing or updating, and you want to prioritize based on the amount of money your currently have to put into some form of home rehab.
There are 3 rooms, or areas in your home that by far exceed all the rest in appeal to buyers, and allow sellers to sell their homes faster, and for the most money.
Based on extensive research, my own experience in helping clients buy and sell homes, and talking with other real estate agents, the three rooms of your home that have the biggest bearing in the ability to sell a home, and has the most appeal for buyers to buy your home are:
2. Master Bathrooms
3. Basements/Lower Levels
This is not to say that other rooms, and aspects of a home and property are not important to be updated, and in good working order.
Obviously, if your kitchen and master bathroom are nice, and updated, and the rest of your home is unattractive, and in disrepair, you will likely still have difficulty selling your home for the amount of money that you believe it to be worth.
Don’t totally neglect the rest of your home, just focus on these 3 rooms first and foremost.
Some buyers, and sellers may consider other rooms of a home, and parts of a property more important than kitchens, and master bathrooms are, but overall, kitchens, and master bathrooms have the biggest impact on resale value.
Kitchens and master bathrooms do sell homes. I highly recommend that you focus on these two areas first, and other areas of your home next.
What if your home doesn’t have a master bathroom? What if you only have one full bathroom in your house? This being the case, my advice would be to update and fix this bathroom, in addition to your kitchen.
You hall bath is in effect the master bathroom since it is the bath that the homeowners will use, and any other members of the family or tenants of the home.
Before you decide to upgrade or add anything, you should take into consideration where you live, or intend to live. If your neighborhood or area is run down, or otherwise unattractive to potential buyers, you will likely not be able to get all of the money that you spent for improvements/upgrades back out of the home when you go to sell.
This is not to say it won’t help, and allow you to realize more from a sale than you would had you done nothing to the home, but the lack of appeal in the neighborhood will keep the selling prices down.
So, make sure that the area or neighborhood is at least ‘ok’ before you spend a lot on repairs and upgrades.
Remember, you want the worst house in the best neighborhood, not the best house in the worst neighborhood.
Let’s take a look at each room, and see what options we have, in order to maximize our enjoyment, and profit.
The kitchen is the focal point of most homes. This is the room that people tend to congregate, not just for meals, but for conversation, snacks, and just hanging out.
Don’t believe it? Next time you have friends or family over, watch where they migrate. I am betting they spend more time in the kitchen area, than any other part of the home.
Have you ever heard the saying, happy wife, happy life? If you haven’t you should pay special attention to this section. It is a given in real estate sales that the wife, or female significant other must love the home, or at least like the home a great deal, before the home will be purchased. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many.
Knowing this basic, yet profound concept, can help you realize how important the kitchen, and master bathroom, or main bathroom, are in the sales process.
I have seen time and again, where the man has loved the home, but the wife didn’t, usually because the kitchen didn’t measure up to her expectations, so the home was taken off the possible buy list.
Conversely, I have seen many situations where the wife loved the home, but the man didn’t, yet the home was put on the buy short list, and some times was the buy choice.
Bottom line is, women love nice kitchens! Are you paying attention?
Ok, so what makes a nice kitchen? Must haves in kitchens are, updated appliances(ideally new, stainless steel appliances). This means refrigerator, dishwasher, cook top, oven, and microwave oven, should be new, or like new, and in perfect operating condition.
In my experience it doesn’t seem to matter too much whether the cook top is gas or electric, but I would say electric may have a slight preferential edge.
Next in importance is an open kitchen. I have heard women say time and again that they want their kitchen to be open to another room, or
living area that they can converse to family members while they are cooking, or doing other things in the kitchen, like cleaning, or planning the next meal.
If the kitchen isn’t open, I suggest seeing how difficult it would be to remove a wall or two, in order to make the kitchen open. Trust me, if the kitchen isn’t open, it may not matter how updated and cool your kitchen is.
Next is lots of cabinets, and cabinet space. Not only should there be lots of cabinet space, but the cabinets should be new or newer, and attractive. Outdated metal, or pressed wood cabinets with weird paint colors, and designs are out. 42 inch hardwood cabinets are in.
Next in importance is counter space. The counters don’t necessarily have to be granite, although it helps, but they do have to be new or newer, and there should be lots of counter space. Within the counter should be a dual sink, and a large kitchen faucet with soap dispenser.
The kitchen faucet does not have to be a pull out type, but I have found that most women prefer this. If the sink is a single sink, it should be large, and deep. A center island is a bonus, especially if it adds more cabinet space, and a breakfast bar. A newer, powerful disposal is another must have.
Another important kitchen factor is a breakfast room. This adds to the idea of an open kitchen. Most newer homes today have a breakfast room next to the kitchen, but many older homes do not. A separate dining room is nice, but if there is not a breakfast room, it may not be enough.
A walk in pantry is another big plus for the kitchen. If this is missing, you must then have ample, easily accessible pantry space to compensate for it.
The kitchen floor is another important feature consideration. The kitchen floor doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it can’t be cheap looking or outdated either.
Due to the fact that there is so much water, and other liquids present that often find there way to the floor, expensive hardwoods, and other nice materials aren’t necessary or appropriate. Nice looking tiles, or water resistant, quality vinyls can usually fit the bill.
Bonus kitchen features are a wine fridge, a built in wine rack, an ice, water dispenser on the refrigerator door, a writing desk, and a butler’s pantry.
Yes, the kitchen is the most important room in your home fix up.
The master bathroom is of course the bathroom that is in, or part of the master bedroom. The master bedroom is the largest, nicest bedroom in the house. The master bathroom used to be seen only in the nicest, most exclusive homes.
This trend started to change in the 1960’s, and 1970’s, as more and more homes were being built with this popular feature included. Today, you seldom see a home being built without a bathroom off the master bedroom.
A common term for the master bedroom with a tub, separate shower, and dual vanities, is the master suite, or master bedroom suite.
Regardless of the configuration of this bathroom, it is wise to update/upgrade it to it’s fullest potential. Don’t go cheap on the materials either.
It is important that the vanity, the faucet, the toilet, and bidet, if included, as well as the bathtub and it’s fixtures be attractive, and work flawlessly.
Your bathroom mirror trim should match your vanity cabinets, and your faucet, toilet handle, and bath fixtures should all match, or at least be the same finish. For example, all chrome finish, all bronze finish, etc.
The good news is, the needed bathroom materials/fixtures, are normally not too expensive, at least from an upgrade, update aspect. There are many ways to update your tub for example.
You can go the tub and tile grout cleaning, and refinishing route first to see if you get enough of an improvement. Even painting the walls inside the tub can often make a big difference. If this inexpensive idea doesn’t give you the look you want, you can always attempt bathtub liners.
If you can keep from replacing the existing tub, you will save some money, and a lot of work. But, if needed, the money you will spend on anything new in the master bathroom like a new tub, you should easily realize when it comes time to sell your home, as this will increase the appeal, as well as the selling price.
Upgrading the floors, walls, and backsplashes can also make a huge difference in the look, and appeal of the bathroom. Many times a thorough cleaning, degrouting is all you need to do, but if not, don’t hesitate to invest where needed.
The master bath is the second most important room in your home fix up.
Another area of the home that is now being emphasized is the lower level or the basement. Many homes have unused, unfinished space in the basement, and many homeowners know that finishing part of the lower level, will provide them with more livable area, and often increase the value of their home.
The majority of home buyers today, expect to have at least some finished space in the basement of the home they want to buy. If there is a walk out in the lower level, it becomes even more appealing to them.
Finishing the lower level is a smart undertaking, especially if the main levels of the home is lacking square footage, or bedrooms, or bathrooms. Of course, the amount of available space in the basement will dictate, but adding a full bath, and a bedroom or sleeping area may be the best course of action.
This extra finished area in the lower level can have many benefits to the home owner. It can provide needed space for a growing family. It can allow overnight visitors like family, or friends to have their own private area. Throw in a wet bar, and the once barren basement can become a hang out, or man cave, or party area for the family.
The finished lower level can also be rented out for extra income. And, if there is a separate entrance or walk out, it can provide good separation from the rest of the home.
If you wanted to go a step further, you could even add a kitchen to your finished basement, and turn it into a mother in law quarters. This would also give you the option to command more rent money if you decided to rent out this portion of the house, or allow for more independence if you had a family member live with you.
Granted, the costs involved in finishing a basement can be somewhat substantial, depending of course, on how much you want to accomplish, but it is quite likely that you will at least recoup your investment when you go to sell your home.
Before you consider finishing your lower level, or having someone do the work for you, there is one very important factor that you must address.
It is water. Many basements, especially in parts of the country where there is a good deal of rainfall, despite what may appear to be flawless construction, allow water to enter. Nothing can ruin a fantastic finished lower level like water damage.
In order to keep this water damage from occurring, or at least greatly minimize the chances of it happening, you must have a sump pump and sump pit installed in the floor of your basement, if there is not one already there. The sump pump will move any water that creeps in, away and out of your lower level.
You should also have any cracks in the wall of your basement repaired, and a waterproofing treatment done. It is a good idea to hire a credible waterproofing company to do this important job for you.
You should also check to be sure that your landscaping next to your house, moves water away from, and not toward the home. Also, make sure that your gutters, and downspouts are clear, and in good repair, and that no water puddles beneath them. If you see puddling, add downspout extensions to move the water away.
Another consideration before you begin finishing, is allowing enough room for storage, laundry area, and possibly a workshop area. One of the best benefits of owning a home is having plenty of storage, and the option of having room for the laundry, and a workshop or hobby area. Don’t finish too much of your basement, and cramp the other needed areas.
Once you have considered, and completed these essential steps, you can move forward with the finishing.
The basement/lower level is the third most important room in your home fix up.
Other important areas for your home fix up.
There are, of course, other rooms, and areas of the home that can benefit you by upgrading, and updating them besides the kitchen, master bathroom, and the basement/lower level on your home fix up list.
For instance, home buyers have come to expect a nice, livable deck or patio off the back, or the side of the home. Some outdoor spaces have roofs, full kitchens, fireplaces, built in barbeque pits, fire pits, ceiling fans, televisions, and stereos.
In order to increase your home’s value, it’s probably not required to include all of these amenities, but a large, clean, inviting space is a must have.
Areas you may want to avoid on your home fix up list.
Some additions like garages, may actually cost you more to put in, than you would realize down the road at selling time. Although garages are a big positive feature to have in any home, their expensive price tag can often make them costlier than they are worth.
Your home fix should only be for at least the amount of money that you will realize at selling time, in an ideal world.
The average price of a 2 car garage to be built is in the $20,000 plus range in the midwest, and likely more in other parts of the country.
Built in swimming pools can easily cost you more than they can bring you at selling time. Many buyers don’t want a home with a pool, so your number of interested prospects decreases right from the start.
There are, conversely, many people that like pools, especially in the warmer areas of the U.S, like the south, and southern California, but ideally you want to appeal to the largest number of buyers, in order to sell quickly, and for the highest prices.
A nice built in pool can cost upwards of 6 figures or more, and you may be only able to recoup a fraction of it’s original expense when you sell.
It is vital to find out what the cost/benefit ratio is when adding improvements or upgrades to your home. You also have to know your own real estate market.
Depending on where you live, will very often determine whether or not it is in your best interest to spend the money on updates, or additions, in order to realize a positive outcome financially.
How long you intend to remain in the home you are in, is another important consideration. If you intend to stay put for many years, your upgrades will benefit you in living enjoyment before monetary gains. It is now time to get your home fix on.
Your home fix should include the kitchen, master bathroom, and the lower level/basement in that order.
Garages, and pools may not realize the return on your money to make adding them to your home a smart idea. Know your real estate market, and know the cost/benefit ratio of putting money into your home fix.