To remodel or not remodel, that's the question...

When one is selling their home they often consider doing remodels or updates to get more money out of their home.  While this sounds like a wise decision, in most cases it is not.  Let me explain some of these scenarios and better explain when you should take that extra step. 

I stumbled across this article and felt that for the most part it rang true, but In my opinion it speaks much too broadly on the subject.  The way I see it is unless you plan on selling your home in the next year or two you should do the remodels that you will get the most enjoyment and use out of.  Don't make your home as a pristine as a model if that's not what you need or want to live in. 

With that being said there are times when you must consider some updates, remodeling or clean up to sell your home.  Most of the time some cheap fixes can go a long way.  Painting the house a neutral color in and out, cleaning the entire home very thoroughly and replacing any broken light, plumbing and electrical fixtures will typically get your home market ready. 

However in some cases your home may be several decades old with all original decor.  If this is the case you almost always will want to invest the time, effort and money bringing it up to date.  All markets are different but in the Kansas City area an out of date home can often sell for 10 - 20% less than more modern competition.  Depending on your homes price range that can add up to a lot of equity! 

Kitchens, baths & flooring are the most common areas that buyers will complain about.  In most cases you can correct these problems for much less than you'll net in the end.  As an example let’s take a 20 year old kitchen that's all original.  Everything from the appliances, counter tops and even plumbing fixtures will detract from your home.  Just replacing the appliances with a builder grade matching set costing around $1,000 including the fridge will add substantial value.  Take that further and install some granite counter tops, a new sink, faucet and paint or refinish the cabinets you'll start to see substantial increase in your home’s value.  

With an average kitchen you can "jazz it up" and modernize it for under $10,000 and almost always recoup that investment if not more.  But most importantly your home will sell quicker which also saves you money on the mortgage payment, tax bill & insurance.  If you carry the modernization through the bathrooms you'll see an even bigger return.  It's important to make sure you do things in a tasteful neutral manner though.  Taking these steps will allow your home to grasp the buyer’s attention and stick out above the competition. 

One of the most cost effective updates that should be done is replacing all vinyl flooring with tile.  Tile can be bought on clearance for under $1.00 per square foot.  This means that for all needed material the typical full bath can get new flooring for under $100.  Any home owner should be able to install tile, it's a relatively simple process and a few minutes reading online tutorials you'll be ready to go. 

There are of course situations where you should avoid the updates and expense.  Some of these might include updating your home beyond what the neighborhood will support.  There are some older areas in town where the nicest homes only sell for $40,000.  When you run into this scenario it's usually best to do a thorough cleaning, replace broken fixtures and price the home competitively. 

Other areas of town may include a mix of older homes and very expensive new homes.  If you own an outdated home in areas like this sometimes you are better selling it as is.  There are many times a person will buy your home for the lot, tear it down and build a new home.  In the Kansas City area Leawood is very popular for this taking place.  

While this general information may get you started, before you undertake too much work it's best to get the opinion of an expert Realtor in your community.  These agents see many homes and have a vast knowledge of your local market.  With this experience they can tell you what changes will make the most impact on buyers and put your home on par or above your competition.