20 things that can alter the value of your home
|By Dana Dratch Bankrate.com
Here are 10 features that can add
value to your home, and another 10 that could reduce the sales price:
An updated kitchen. "Kitchens are critical,"
says Robert Irwin, author of "Home Buyer's Checklist." "Today,
people like a big kitchen with a lot of workspace."
look for solid surface counters and high-quality flooring, such as wood, laminate,
tile or stone. And they want newer appliances in working order.
Even if it's not huge, it should have "serviceable
countertops that aren't going to have to be replaced soon and cabinetry
in good condition," says Alan Hummel, past president of the
Appraisal Institute. "It has to be well-appointed and large
enough to fit your needs."
And it doesn't
hurt if it opens onto another room. "A lot of families are looking for that
openness," says Hummel.
It helps to have a window
over the sink, says Don Strong, a remodeler with Brothers Strong Inc., a Houston
Be wary if renovations are out of character
with the community, such as granite countertops in a subdivision where plastic
laminate is the norm.
"Will you sell faster? Yes," says Hummel,
CEO of Iowa Residential Appraisal Co., in Des Moines. "Will
it sell for more? Not unless the appointments you've done are significantly
higher quality than the rest of the neighborhood."
Modern bathrooms. Buyers are looking for "master
baths that give a little room to roam," says Hummel.
big asset: spa or whirlpool tubs. "I'm always entertained by the people who
have them in the master bath and don't use them," says Ron Phipps, principal
broker with Phipps Realty & Relocation Services in Warwick, R.I. "But
it's a big feature."
Some other features buyers are seeking: separate showers
with steam and/or multiple jets, double sink, and a separate room
for the toilet.
Also, make sure the plumbing and hot water heater
can handle the job. The pipes have to be large enough to carry an
adequate volume of water and the hot water heater has to be big
enough to accommodate it. "You need a bare minimum of a 75-gallon
hot water heater, and most of my customers have 100 to 150," says Chicago-based home inspector Kurt Mitenbuler.
"You don't want to see that false economy of
a $30,000 bathroom but nobody spent a few thousand dollars to upgrade the pipes," he says.
3. A well-appointed master suite. "People are really excited about master suites," says Hummel. The wish list: a luxurious bathroom, lounging areas and walk-in closets.
4. Natural materials. "People
like natural materials," says Phipps. "Ceramic tile, hardwood floors,
granite. We've gone back to a real appreciation for historically true materials.
And simulated works as well. The look is very popular."
floor coverings -- especially bathrooms or kitchens -- look for ceramic tile or
wood rather than linoleum, which can tear, says Strong.
In the rest of the house, wood or
laminate products are a plus over wall-to-wall,
says Gary Eldred, author of "The 106 Common
Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and How to Avoid Them)."
But if you have carpet, it should
be a good product and well maintained so that "a person doesn't have to walk
in and think, 'I'm going to have to spend five grand right off the bat," says Strong.
5. Curb appeal. First
impressions are everything. A house that appears
tidy and well cared for will sell more quickly and
for more money. A good first appearance can add
as much as 10 percent to the value of the home.
A light, airy spacious feel. "People buy
space and light," says Myra Zollinger, owner/broker with Coldwell Banker
Realty Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. "I have yet to have anybody walk into
a really dark house and say, 'I love this.'"
Richard "Dick" Gaylord,
a vice president of the National Association of
Realtors, agrees. "That's a very big feature,"
he says. "I haven't sold many homes that aren't
bright and airy."
Good windows. "People are looking at exposures
and windows," says Phipps. "It's been a cold winter for most of the
country and energy efficiency is very important."
windows are always a plus, says Strong. "Typically, they pay for themselves
in five years," he says. The cost: for an average 2,600-square-foot home,
estimate about $10,000 for new windows, he says.
skylights are also a good touch to add value, says Phipps.
Landscaping. Mature trees "are worth $1,000," says Strong.
And having outdoor spaces with touches
such as pergolas and Victorian garden swings "can be very helpful," says Phipps.
Appraiser John Bredemeyer remembers one $250,000 home
in Omaha, Neb. that had no landscaping at all. "It was stark,"
says Bredemeyer, former national chair of government relations for
the Appraisal Institute, a professional group for real estate appraisers.
"It just stood out as unappealing."
Conversely, you don't have to spend a fortune on plants, either.
Just keep it "typical with the neighborhood," he says.
Lots of storage. Nothing beats an oversized garage,
some attic space and plenty of closets. "If you have a two-car garage, do
you have extra space for those things we all have -- bicycles, lawn mower, snow
blower?" says Hummel. "Space is important."
nice plus in the master suite? "His and hers walk-in closets," says
10. Basement. "If
it's dry, it's a plus," says Kenneth Austin, co-author of "The Home
Buyer's Inspection Guide." "But it's a negative if it has water problems."
finished basement adds even more value. "Ten years ago, nobody cared,"
says Mittenbuler. "Now everybody wants them."