Top quality home improvement that pays off when you sell it

By David Wilkening Contributing Author

Replacing an old and worn garage door is an easy way to increase a home’s appeal.

REGION – The housing situation in Boston and most of Massachusetts these days is best described as “sizzling.” The high demand is overwhelmed by a scarce supply. It’s definitely a seller’s market. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider renovating or improving the home you’re selling.

“Right now, sellers often overlook things like this simply because of the limited inventory available,” said Boston-based realtor Helen Tarantino. “Buying ‘as is’ is common. Sellers sometimes lose out when just one coat of paint can be worth $50,000 here.”

Cost does not always equate to value

“Sometimes just one coat of paint can be worth $50,000,” says Boston-based realtor Helen Tarantino.

It may come as a surprise to many home sellers, but some of the most valuable renovations to get the maximum return on an eventual home sale are often as mundane as an inexpensive paint job and even a new garage door.

In fact, in 2021, Zonda Media — formerly Hanley Wood — released its highly regarded “Cost vs. Value” report, which found that the best returns came from exterior improvements. The three exterior projects with the highest return on investment were garage door replacement (94%), engineered stone veneer installation (93%) and siding replacement with fiber cement material (69%).

Eleven of the dozen projects with the highest ROI (return on investment) were exterior improvements. The indoor exception at the third ROI spot was “minor kitchen remodeling.”

Perennial key trends show that outdoor spaces are the best bets

Perennial key trends have found that exterior enhancement projects such as engineered stone cladding and veneering, and smaller kitchen surfaces have traditionally been at the top of the list when it comes to recovering partial replacement costs. Popular renovations often return well below their true cost.

Garage door replacements have typically cost $3,000 to $4,000 in years past, far less than a master suite extension, which might cost $300,000 in Boston while fetching less than half that price.

Those were national numbers, but multi-year studies by Hanley Wood in the past, using numbers broken down by specific areas, found similar results in the New England region. The latest report rated garage doors as the best value for money replacements with returns of 90-92%.

“A lot of people don’t realize that a new garage door adds a lot,” said Pavel Khaykin, founder and owner of Boston-based Pavel Buys Houses.

If all of this sounds daunting, it is realistic. Hanley Wood has pointed out in the past that improvements, although they seemed like great ideas, often didn’t justify their cost when homes were brought to market. Renovation projects that homeowners care about are usually reflected in well below actual costs. Some of the most requested projects, such as B. room extensions, are among the lowest percentage returns.

“While the percentage of costs recovered for all replacement projects falling under ‘Cost vs. Value’ tends to trend down, this change primarily reflects the sharp increase in material costs over the past summer,” Hanley wrote more than a year ago . This statement is all the more true today with inflation remaining at record levels.

Ways to maximize home value

Still, realtors have suggestions for renovations and repairs that maximize homeowners’ returns — even if the overall market here in Massachusetts and almost everywhere else has shifted toward a strong seller bias. Some of these proposals are at a far lower cost than major overhauls.

Organizing and storing furniture and other items elsewhere helps potential buyers envision more spaciousness in a home for sale, says Pavel Khaykin, a Boston realtor.
Organizing and storing furniture and other items elsewhere helps potential buyers envision more spaciousness in a home for sale, says Pavel Khaykin, a Boston realtor.

I agree with Tarantino about painting as a cost-effective alternative Chaikin. “You sometimes see houses with lots of striped colors and stuff like that. Some people disagree. It’s better to choose a neutral, white or gray color,” he said.

He also suggests clearing out furniture and other items, at least temporarily, and storing them elsewhere. This helps potential buyers envision more spaciousness in a home for sale. “It opens things up in their imagination,” he said. For older prospective buyers, it is also an additional incentive to have all access areas on one floor, as seniors are often more interested in accessibility than younger apartment seekers.

Attractiveness and first impressions can also be attractive, often at a lower cost than more extensive and expensive renovations, added Julie Horvath-d’Amico, a real estate agent at Century 21 Adams KC in Arlington. “Decks, balconies and patios are coveted amenities, especially in the city where lots are smaller,” she said. Many older buyers also appreciate homes with open outdoor recreation spaces.

Kitchen upgrades can also add value, as studies have shown.

Seller’s tastes may not universally appeal to buyers, so Tarantino suggests forgoing a particular style of decorating dominance in favor of less expensive upgrades like appliances that have a more universal appeal.

Khaykin also suggests a few other home improvements to sell a home fast. One is kitchen upgrades. They can get expensive during major total renovations, but less expensive areas like countertops, faucets, and sinks can be replaced during the renovation. A bathroom redesign such as replacing the shower and bathtub can also add value.

Another convenience that has surfaced since the pandemic and the rise of working from home is the appeal of home offices. A Homelight study found that 60% of real estate agents identified this as a new top priority for buyers. That could very well be the latest popular renovation to even out its price point in future studies.

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