So, you finally got into your first home and you’re ready to take on all the projects and dress that puppy up to the 9s.  Not so fast! Turn off HGTV and close those Pinterest windows flooding you with ideas and let’s take a step back for a second. It’s important with your first home that you approach your upgrade list very strategically and understand what is going to add the most market value compared to what will just give you personal enjoyment more than hard dollars and cents.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about undertaking updates that are going to give you a lot of personal enjoyment, it’s just important to understand that not all updates are created equal and you may not necessarily get all your money out of certain projects. For example. Let’s say you move into a lovely townhome and all the homes have small fenced in backyards with patios. The patio you have is structurally fine but not cosmetically to your liking and it’s driving you nuts. The project isn’t going to break the bank but you’re looking at a few thousand dollars to replace it with something more to your liking so you move forward with it. That’s all well and good, just don’t expect to add an additional $3-4,000 of value to your home replacing something that was fine to begin with but just didn’t fit your taste.

The best way to approach home upgrades to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck is to look at the most similar homes selling in your neighborhood for the highest price and compare them to your home. What sort of common upgrade themes are you seeing? Does everyone have recess lighting but you do not? There could be your first project. Do all kitchens have nice backslashes and yours does not? There is project number two!

The projects don’t have to be huge or super expensive and you may even be able to take many of them on as DIY projects. If you are looking to sink some money into a project however, be mindful of the costs and make sure you are not going for the over improvement. If you do knowingly go for the over improvement at least try to get it done early on in your ownership of the home so you can enjoy the update yourself.

For example, let’s say all the comps in the area have updated bathrooms that any current buyer in the market would find appealing with mid to upper mid-level updates. A dream sanctuary bathroom has always been on your wish list so you decide you’re going to go high end on everything from shower, to tile, all the way down to the grout. This level of upgrade is likely going to cost you 1.5 to 2 times the cost of everyone else’s’ projects but will not necessarily translate to 1.5 to 2 times the added market value to your home. Buyers will see you’ve done a great job and value your bathroom higher than the comps but they are not going to absorb the entire cost of that upgrade without the market supporting that. Again, so long as you understand this and are okay with it, enjoy it. Nothing is stopping you.

The moral of the story is to make sure the market supports your upgrade wish list and if it doesn’t be mindful of the cost and get it done sooner in the timeline of owning the home so you get to enjoy the upgrade yourself and get the value out of it that way.

There are so many ways to approach buying and selling homes it can make your head spin. It’s always a good idea to do your homework or even give a local Realtor® a call and chat through what you’re thinking. They should be more than happy to offer advice and help you pull those comps to get some good ideas. 

It’s all about relationships and customer service above all else and that has always been the corner stone of my business. My job is to support you and give you the tools and information you need to reach your home buying and selling goals.