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Seller Home Improvements: What Yields Return

By Alicia Murphy | June 9, 2012

Preparing your home to be put on the market for sale involves several steps. You’ll want to make sure that your lawn is tidy for curb appeal, you’ve eliminated clutter and some personal items if necessary, and that your property remains in a relatively clean state in preparation for showings to prospective buyers.

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Many sellers also find themselves interested in making some home improvements in order to raise the value of their home. But before you go knocking out walls or pouring concrete consider the following information about seller home improvements.

It’s a common misconception amongst sellers that because they’ve spent money (and sometimes a large amount of it) in improving their property that they will realize a full return on their investment. The fact of the matter is that there are certain improvements which yield a good return in your home value and others that probably won’t net you an extra dime.

For instance, adding a pool is one of the most costly improvements that sellers enter into with the expectation of seeing that money returned when they sell. It’s also a factor that has little influence on your actual property value in most markets. So if you’re considering a pool for its equity improvement in your property don’t bother. But if you’d like a place to cool down in the summer time and don’t mind that you’ll never see the full amount of that investment returned to you jump in!

So what are some home improvements that do net an increase in the value of your home?

Cosmetic changes such as removing wall paper and painting as well as kitchen and bathroom improvements are often safe bets for increasing value and yield the greatest return for your investment in the project. But sellers beware: take note of the improvements of other homes in your neighborhood. Over-improving your property hurts more than it helps as buyers won’t pay an exaggerated amount of money for a property when they can purchase something comparable in the same neighborhood for less money.

For instance, if you live in a median income neighborhood with small homes adding a large family room which increases your property’s square footage well above those in the neighborhood might have a negative effect on improvement return when you go to sell. It’s not often advantageous to have the largest home in the neighborhood. Likewise adding granite countertops to a home in an area where most of the surrounding property has formica doesn’t bode well for seeing a good return on that investment.

It’s also important to remember that home maintenance and home improvement is not the same thing. Adding a new air conditioning unit because yours kicked off is a great selling feature and might make your home more appealing to buyers but it probably won’t impact your home’s value at all. Neglecting improvements and allowing your home to slip into disrepair, however, will affect its value. So keep up with your maintenance, but don’t expect to necessarily reap financial gains from them.

With the right improvements you can both make your home more appealing on the market and increase your value. If you’re confused about what improvements are netting the greatest gains in your area contact a local REALTOR®.

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.
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