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Home Improvement Dollars: Where to Spend and Where to Save

By Alicia Murphy | July 11, 2012

Keeping your property maintained and up-to-date can be a trying task. Especially for new homeowners who are faced with a number of potential projects, knowing where to put your money first isn’t always easy. But if you’re renovating with resale value in mind it’s important that you consider the best places to put your home improvement dollars before beginning any big project.

Put your dollars where they matter most © cherezoff -

Utility vs. Aesthetics

Some homeowners prefer to improve their property in ways that increase its utility while abandoning concern for aesthetics. For instance, you might decide that pouring your money into a backyard makeover that includes a pool and Tiki bar is optimally beneficial, and for your family’s personal enjoyment you’d right. But if you neglect making important updates and improvements to the interior of the property you might find yourself hard pressed to fetch a resale price that covers the cost of your improvements- in fact you’re likely to find yourself bringing money to the closing table instead.

While your property’s utility is important and certainly paramount to your enjoyment of it don’t completely flake out on aesthetic updating. Granite counter tops might not seem important to you but could be the difference of thousands of dollars in sales price.

Spaces that Yield Return

Updating and improving certain rooms in a home promises a better return than renovating others. Traditionally kitchens and bathrooms, for instance, offer a pretty good rate of fiscal return over other spaces, such as bedrooms or great rooms. A kitchen or bathroom that has poor utility, no updates and a lack of storage can quickly turn off even the most enthralled buyer.

It is essential to be considerate of other properties in your neighborhood before beginning a kitchen or bathroom update to avoid spending more money than you can expect to return. Not every neighborhood is a granite countertop neighborhood, and it’s a bad idea to expect to be able to list and sell your property for a price much higher than those in the area simply because of these types of updates.

Part of the joy (and alternately headache) of homeownership is the ability to continuously improve your property in whatever ways that you see fit. You can mold it over time and make it everything you’ve ever dreamed, or you can choose to simply maintain it and get by without regard for the latest trends.

Whatever you decide be sure to make wise choices of where your money is spent and your less likely to find yourself in the whole when you decide to sell. To learn more about smart renovating and the latest trends visit

Alicia Murphy is a licensed real estate agent. My freelance writing career began simultaneously with my Real Estate career in 2010.As a Realtor I’ve worked primarily with buyers in finding themtheir dream home and have experience in foreclosure sales, but I've also represented sellers in marketing and selling their homes. As we await the bolstering return of the Real Estate market I will continue to adapt to ever-changing conditions and continue to provide first-rate service to my clients.
  • 4 comments on “Home Improvement Dollars: Where to Spend and Where to Save”

    1. Alicia, thank you for the intriguing article. You brought up some great points, including the idea of finding a perfect balance between utility and aesthetics. Another trend I've noticed recently is that of energy efficient home improvements. This ties directly in to your section about return on investment. When homeowners invest in energy efficient products like Triple Pane replacement windows, they not only increase the value of their home in the long-term, but can also begin saving money on heating and cooling bills immediately. Thanks again for posting this well-written blog!

      1. Thank you for your response, I'm glad you enjoyed the article! You're absolutely right about green improvements and I'll be touching on that subject more in the future.

    2. Here at American Exteriors, we have seen the trend for remodeling take an upward turn on projects that increase the comfort of the home. Projects such as backyard getaways and family rooms are becoming increasingly popular.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly and I've noticed more of my buyers seeking features in a home that are geared toward entertaining, such as an open floor plan or backyard oasis. Perhaps this is connected to our economy as more homeowners look to entertain at home in hopes of saving money as opposed to going out.

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