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Windows Before and After

Home Improvement Projects with the Best Return on Investments

29 May 2016 1

People are funny. Especially when it comes to their homes. After all, the average American spends between 60-70% of their entire lives at home.  It’s no wonder we do everything we can to make it our own.  But what projects and customization’s are you going to get BACK out of your house when you go to sell it?  Which projects will you never see a dime of come back?

If there is ONE thing that I wish I could change it’s the fact that home sellers contact me AFTER they make some changes to “freshen up” or get ready to sell.  The fact is, most sellers only do things that are important to them, not necessarily what is important to today’s buyers.  Before you pull out your hammer and paintbrush, make sure you are spending your time and energy on something that will be the greatest appeal to home buyers.

Whether you are looking to get your home “market ready” or just looking for ideas to upgrade the house, getting a return on your investment is always a consideration. There are some projects you will see a MUCH high ROI than others. These are some of the projects you can do that are relatively inexpensive that offer the BEST bang for your buck by adding the most value to your home.

New Front Door

New Modern Front Door

New Modern Front Door

It’s the quaint entrance to your abode and the gateway to your castle.  Replacing the front door after years of use is never a bad idea.  A quality updated front door can add tons of curb appeal to a frumpy exterior.  It’s a common upgrade that often gets overlooked.

Considering that this is the very first thing your house guests will be seeing and feeling up close, a solid front door can set the tone to your property. Additionally, a new front door will most likely be much better at insulating than older doors, helping to keep your heating and cooling costs down.

Year after year, new front doors (steel doors in particular) are shown to provide the best ROI on your investment when you sell, usually over 100%.

Adding Stone Veneer

Stone Veneer in the Backyard

Stone Veneer in the Backyard

Stone Veneer adds Curb Appeal

Stone Veneer adds Curb Appeal

This project can add a tremendous amount of curb appeal and give a very high end look to your home. It’s easy enough to do and can be used in various places around the home.  Around a front door, pillars and columns are enough to give you that extra flair of elegance.  The cost to do this project is relatively low compared to the visual impact it can provide.

Garage Door Replacement

Upgraded Garage Doors

Upgraded Garage Doors

On many homes, a garage door can take up a huge portion of the exterior of the home.  The replacement gives an immediate and dramatic update.  And let’s be honest, first impressions and curb appeal are huge when it comes to impressing potential buyers.

*NOTE!* The best bang for your buck here is to do a mid-range quality garage door.  Spending the extra money on an ultra-high end garage door is not going to yield the same ROI.  For an extra bonus feature however, considering adding insulation to your garage door to keep the garage cooler in the hot Arizona summer months.  It’s quite cheap and easy to do and your buyers will appreciate the added feature.


Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation Install

Insulation is ranked towards the top of one of the best ROI project you can do.  I personally think there should be an asterisk next to this one, and here’s why.  Insulation will no doubt keep your home cooler, warmer and more efficiently insulated.  This can save on your utility bills dramatically.  But when it comes to selling, will you see that money come back?

In my opinion it depends on who is buying that house.  In my personal experience, insulation is not a touted feature and upgrade that many buyers are looking for.  What sells homes is mostly aesthetics.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  You will sell a home with a $15,000 new kitchen 5x faster than you will a house with that same $15,000 put into a new roof and a new A/C unit.  It’s only natural for us to gravitate towards upgrades like fancy kitchen, or as I like to call it: “shiny object syndrome”.

So if you ask me, this is great to do if you plan to continue living in your house, and your insulation is more than 15 or 20 years old.  Chances are you are seeing dollar bills float out through the roof every day.  However, if you are going to sell right now, in today’s market, I wouldn’t suggest this is as the best investment to entice buyers.

Replacement Windows

New Windows Before and After

New Windows Before and After

Windows Before and After

New Windows Before and After

This is one I’m a big fan of.  Here in Arizona a lot of homes were built in the 60’s and 70’s that are in very desirable areas today.  These homes often get remodeled, with nice new kitchens, bathrooms and fixtures, but far too many of them don’t go as far as to upgrade the windows.  The single pane windows that were installed in most homes of the 60’s and 70’s are so incredibly inefficient, you are losing more heating and cooling out these windows than nearly anywhere else in a home of that age.

Many folks I work with are drawn to the block or brick housing because of its excellent and natural insulation abilities.  But remember, when they built homes that were this solid, the windows were anything but.  Upgrading to UV reflective dual pane windows will not only put money back in your pocket, buyers will take notice and appreciate the upgrade.

So if selling your home is coming up in the near future think about your next project carefully and ask yourself, “Will buyers REALLY like this, or is this just something I like?” When all else fails, don’t hesitate to ask someone who works with home buyers on a daily basis and knows what buyers are looking for.  (hint: that’s me).

Jon Knutson Realtor

Jon Knutson, REALTOR®

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