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Bang for Your Buck: Which Home Improvements Pay Off

by CJ Hodges

When it comes to home improvements there are as many reasons for taking them on as there are projects to choose from. The most common reason for home renovation is to improve the value and marketability. If this is the motivation, careful thought and planning are required to make the best, and most informed decision possible. Not all improvements are created equal. The value of any improvement is influenced by the region in which the property is located.

A spectacular outdoor living space won't bring as great a return in Minneapolis as it would Tampa. Keeping that in mind, this article will try to offer a general guideline of which updates and renovations will more likely boost your bottom line when it comes time to market the home.

How does one prioritize the work to be done? The sensible
thing to do first is to hire a licensed home inspector and have them come take a look at the major systems and appliances and evaluate if any are in need of repair or replacement. It would be a pity to spend a fortune adding marble to the foyer when those funds would have better served in replacing a leaky roof or an HVAC system near the end of it's economic life.

These professionals typically charge $250-$500 to spend approximately 3-5 hours at the property and they always find issues that need attention that the home owner had no idea were in need of repair. Make sure that the inspector you hire is endorsed by the National Association of Home Inspectors or other reputable, national association.

Once you have the inspection completed and you have made
certain that all "must be done" projects are complete, what do you do? Take a long hard look at the house and try to do so with the eyes of a prospective buyer. What do you look for when you look at homes that are on the market? Do you easily accept avocado green counter tops or harvest gold appliances? Is sculptured carpet or torn vinyl flooring what you would choose to live with? Probably not.

The same goes for the buyers in today's market. The buyer client
looking for a home in 2009 is a tough cookie! They want turn-key
properties offered at great prices, and they are getting them. This makes it more important than ever that a home seller keep the changes they make appealing to the broadest spectrum of
purchasers and do their best to make the look as timeless as

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the amount of money you spend on renovations is how much the property will appreciate. Homes will only appraise for an amount that is in line with what has sold in that particular area for a finite amount of time, typically 6 months. It is wise to call upon a local Realtor to guide you on what projects will yield the greatest return in your geographic region.

In general, you can expect money spent on updating a kitchen to be returned to you at a rate of 83.2% on average, according to results of several national studies. The key is to keep your choices neutral and to boost functionality.

Counter top upgrades, new appliances, fresh paint and stylish cabinet hardware are your best investments in the "heart of the home". On the flip side, swimming pools add absolutely no value. In some cases they can even bring down the value of a home. If a swimming pool is something you desire, buy a home with one installed. The money spent, on average $19,000.00, is never re-couped by the owner that has it put the pool in. People are afraid of the expense, upkeep and liability involved in owning a home with a pool.

Adding any functional square footage is also a good choice. An
extra bedroom, bathroom, walk in closet or finished basement/attic space will return to the home owner anywhere from 50 to 100% of their investment. Make sure that the new square footage is serviced by HVAC duct work to be counted as actual "living space" during the appraisal and the rewards can sometimes exceed 100%.

Home ownership, especially that of investment property is always a win some, lose some proposition. Hopefully, with this information and the guidance of a local Realtor, the gamble can be minimized and the profit maximized!

CJ Hodges is a Realtor in Montgomery, Al at Beringer RealtyLlc. Sheis a top producer with over eight million in sales for 2009 and is affiliated with a national radio personality and his ELP ( Endorsed Local Provider program. She can be reached by email
[email protected], phone 334-233-5848 or found at

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