The 2012 real estate market is still struggling, but strategic home improvements can maximize your house's market potential when you decide to sell your house. Here are 10 improvements that pay off.
#1) General Cosmetic Overhaul. If time or budget only allows one project, the cosmetic home makeover provides the best return on investment. Painting, deep cleaning carpets, and adding attractive window treatments are simple projects with a high ROI. And don't ignore the importance of general de-cluttering. This makes an enormous difference in how appealing potential buyers find your house.
#2) Adding or Replacing Siding. This project is a winner in the 'curb appeal' department. Not only does new siding look great, it can make the difference if a buyer is on the fence between your property and one that will require painting every few years.
#3) Moderate Kitchen Upgrade. According to Remodeling Magazine, a moderate kitchen remodel has a high ROI in terms of resale value. Upgrading fixtures, cabinets, and counters (even if you only replace old hardware), plus making cosmetic improvements, are projects most people can do themselves, and they please buyers.
#4) Replacing Garage Door. Replacing a splintered or poorly-functioning garage door increases curb appeal, security, and convenience. This project has an estimated 84% return on investment, and at a cost of around $1,300, it won't break the bank.
#5) Installing a Steel Entry Door. This relatively low-cost improvement actually pays for itself in added retail value. If you include a top quality lock and deadbolt system, you give buyers a great first impression of your home, and give your home a secure ambience.
#6) Landscaping and Lawn Care Update. You don't have to try for something out of Better Homes and Gardens, but if you fertilize, reseed or re-sod bare patches, edge your lawn, trim hedges, and perhaps add a few ornamental features, you make your house stand out to prospective buyers driving around. You'll also have more beautiful photographs for your sales listing.
#7) Gutter Improvements. You don't want potential buyers to tour your house on a rainy day and get drenched because you haven't cleaned your gutters. Ensure that all gutters flow properly and that downspouts route water away from the house. Adding gutter guards is another improvement that will impress prospective buyers.
#8) Chimney and Roof Flashing Repairs. Yes, these repairs are not readily noticeable, but you can note them in your listing. Letting buyers know the chimney is sound and roof flashing doesn't leak shows that your house has been cared for and is less likely to require major unplanned repairs soon.
#9) Electrical Upgrades. Your old 60 Amp service won't impress buyers. Upgrading to 100 Amps and ensuring that all switches and outlets are properly grounded and working correctly reassures buyers. If nothing else, upgrade from two-prong, ungrounded outlets to three-prong GFCI outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms.
#10) Replacing Ugly Light Fixtures. There are a lot of ugly chandeliers out there, and replacing them with simple, understated fixtures that harmonize well with your home's lines will give your house a professionally decorated look. Moderately experienced DIY enthusiasts can replace ugly chandeliers themselves for an inexpensive, noticeable difference.