Want to Increase Your Home's Value? 3 Blunders to Avoid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When you become a homeowner you quickly realize there are countless improvements you can make to your home – from adding a kitchen backsplash to renovating the basement or installing a new driveway.

But before you go into project-planning overdrive, you want to make sure you are investing in projects that add value.

The experts at Angie’s List say there are three home project blunders to avoid.

Addressing WANTS before NEEDS

Shortly after moving in to her new home, Heidi Birkey discovered a plumbing problem under her sink that cost her more than $500 to fix.

“The plumbing under the sink is really old and it was all metal plumbing so when he took it apart it fell apart in his hands,” Birkey said. “I had the plumbers to come out three different times and finally they had to replace the plumbing in kitchen.”

It was a necessary expense that Birkey wasn’t expecting.

“Be sure that you balance your needs and your wants. Maybe you want a new deck, but you need a new furnace and only have money for one,” Angie Hicks, the creator of Angie’s List, explained. “Invest in those needs first because it will be a better return on your money.”

Over-investing in a remodel

“Kitchen and bathrooms are the best things to invest in because they get the best return on investment, usually around 85 percent,” Hicks said.

But if the majority of homes in your neighborhood have laminate countertops, you may reconsider adding granite.

Real estate agent Nancy Burk said it’s just as important to get the job done.

“There are a lot of times we’ll meet with a potential seller and they’ll say, ‘Oh and we just finished doing our kitchen floor. We’ve installed a new bathroom floor, or we’ve put in a new shower enclosure,” Burk said but added. “Typically the homeowner may start a project with great enthusiasm and fails to finish.”

Hicks made this analogy: “The goal is to keep up with the Jones, but don’t be the leader in your neighborhood.”

Angie’s List says unless yours is the only house on the block without a pool, it’s not a good idea. In most cases, you won’t get back even half of the money you spent.

Angie’s List says typically home offices and sun rooms aren’t a good idea either. A buyer may want that space for something else – like a bedroom or playroom.

The return on the investment for these projects is about 60 percent or less.

Not taking the time to do your research

Another big mistake homeowners make is not taking enough time to do the necessary research and trying to do the work themselves.

Burk said painting is a big one.

“Painting is a really common thing that it takes a good steady hand to make a good steady line, especially where you are cutting into your ceiling,” explained Burk. “So be very cautious when you say you can do this yourself.”

Burk has an idea of what buyers want.

“Everybody wants to buy a home that is move-in ready, that is clean and they don’t have to do anything other than their own personal touches.”

A project installed poorly won’t add value when it’s time to sell your home.

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