Renovating can be a daunting process, so we asked Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a platform that helps people find expert advice and get matched with vetted general contractors, about her best renovating tricks and expertise.
We all want our homes to be a reflection of who we are. That’s what makes renovating so energizing. But if you plan to live in your space for only a few years—let’s say less than five—it’s best to keep in mind the potential for resale before picking blue countertops or painting the rooms black. Every choice you make could entice or detract a potential buyer.
So where should you start when renovating with resale in mind? First, make sure all systems are in good working order and there are no structural issues before turning your attention to the areas that matter most to buyers. Focusing your time and money on remodeling the most visible parts of your home, for instance, tends to bring the best value, and kitchens have one of the highest rates of return.
In one New York City building where Sweeten renovated two kitchens, both apartments sold at $100,000 above asking price (in one case, far exceeding the purchase price for the exact same nonrenovated unit on a higher floor). Want a similar return rate? Pay attention to these seven details above all else.
Replace Any Outdated or Worn Items
Lighting or plumbing that looks like it’s from the ’80s won’t make the best first impression. Instead, substitute existing fixtures for more modern varieties with clean lines. Get rid of timeworn trends that serve no purpose—glass-block walls, faux wood paneling, etc. If you’re swapping out kitchen appliances, consider purchasing name brands that can be touted in a real-estate listing (for instance, a Sub-Zero fridge).
Refinish Your Floors
This is a necessity if your flooring isn’t in great shape, but it’s also generally one of the best investments to improve a space because of the large surface it covers. Carpets are a turnoff for many buyers.
A Fresh Coat of Neutral Paint Can Do Wonders
Some homeowners want to do it themselves (though if you ask them afterward, they often say they’d hire a pro the next time). Whatever route you choose, covering purple or pink walls with a palatable light cream or beige will go a long way in attracting buyers who don’t see past existing finishes.
Play Up the Kitchen for That Positive First Impression
Change out kitchen cabinet fronts by sanding and repainting or replacing the existing doors and hardware. If you have a very dark kitchen, going lighter will almost certainly appeal more to buyers. Replacing countertops and backsplashes can have a major impact if your budget allows.
Make the Bathroom Sparkle
If you’re not looking for a gut renovation, the easiest and most affordable way to update the bath is to paint and replace the medicine cabinet and mirror. Updating the tile and vanity and reglazing the tub can also revive the space. For a small bathroom, consider a floating vanity, which gives the illusion of more space.
Think Hard About Layout Changes
Eliminating a bedroom to create a big master suite means one less bedroom in the listing. You may lose buyers looking for a certain number of rooms. Similarly, converting your hall bathroom tub into a shower may hurt your resale chances if families with small children are the primary buyers. However, it’s an easier choice if you have two bathrooms with tubs. In an ideal scenario, you’ll want to consult a local real-estate agent to advise on what a typical buyer wants in your neighborhood.
Add Flex Spaces to Show Versatility
Help buyers envision the possibilities for the space by putting up pressurized walls to create an office nook or adding sliding doors across a large living room to create a den or meditation zone. By putting in the work to create an inviting vision for the space, you’ll make sure anyone who walks through the door can picture living in your home.
More reno tips:
We Completely Transformed Our Fireplace Using Leftover Paint
The 8 Big Lessons I Learned From Gut Renovating a 100-Year-Old Home
Domino Executive Creative Director Kate Berry’s DIY Backsplash Is Totally Rental-Friendly