Wise Home Facelifts in an Uncertain Market

With the uncertain housing market, it is more important than ever to make wise choices when keeping your home maintained and up-to-date. If you were forced to move and list your house quickly, the current glut of unsold homes makes it even more competitive for sellers. Certain upgrades and restaging techniques can give you the chance to sell your home faster and offer a greater return on your investment. These techniques can also be used to enhance your lifestyle in the home, even if you are not moving away anytime soon.

As a professional interior designer, I am always asking my clients what their timelines and desires are for their spaces. Many of my clients say they want a luxury lifestyle and their timeline in the home does not matter. Other clients employ my firm to remodel and stage the house only with ROI (return on investment) in mind. Some find middle ground. You should always indentify your personal goals before proceeding with any major home improvement project.

Even with tough economic times, very few things in your life can provide you the comfort and serenity of coming home to a well decorated home. Great colors, quality upholstery, beautiful casegoods, tasteful artwork and lovely lighting will always bring hope, joy and happiness to our lives.

Remodeling for a Return on Investment

If the present housing economy has helped you decide to stay put in your home, which is certainly the trend I see right now, there are wise remodeling values in today’s marketplace. One of the most respected resources for determining today’s most profitable home remodel projects is published by Remodeling Magazine. Their research is performed by a team consisting of the National Association of Realtors based in Washington D.C.; Specpan, which is a market research firm based in Indianapolis and Hometech, which is a Maryland-based software developer of cost-to-construct for 25 projects in 60 urban areas.

The 22nd Annual Cost vs. Value Report for 2009-2010 establishes cost-to-construct benchmarks for a set of common remodeling projects, then estimates how much of that investment will be recouped at resale in the current market. If resale value is a major factor in your decision to remodel, the best course of action is to consult with a local remodeler about construction cost, and ask an experienced Realtor about home prices in the neighborhood.

The real beauty of this report is it allows you to look at Indianapolis data for projects in mid-range and upscale scenarios for over 20 major remodeling projects and determine which are recouping the greatest ROI. The charts also compare this to national averages as well. The latest 2009-2010 report can be found online here.

The current hands down winner for the best upscale remodeling ROI in Indianapolis is to replace all of your old siding with fiber cement material. It is a wonderful product, with many manufacturers offering 50 year upwards to lifetime warranties when properly installed. This type of upgrade to your home can initially net you 83 cents of every dollar spent, with a full recoup of cost over a short timeline.

Other higher-yield remodeling projects for the Indianapolis market include replacement of windows, adding exterior decking in wood or composite materials, replacing your entry doors, major kitchen remodeling, and as you would suspect, adding or remodeling bathrooms. The current yields on these projects are not nearly as good as they once were, but everyone knows well designed kitchens and baths sell homes and make them more enjoyable for everyone.

Refreshing for Resale

If resale is your primary concern right now, there are several less expensive ideas which can be executed on your own for a minimal expense. Curb appeal is first and foremost. Presenting an immaculate home to this competitive market is critical. Hand spading the edges of your flower beds and adding fresh dark mulch, along with well pruned lawn and trees is always the first thing you will be judged upon. Delete all distracting yard art. Gutters should be cleaned, windows washed and exterior trim painted to look fresh.

Continue the cleanliness inside as well. Your home should be spotless and smell clean and inviting. If buyers see dirty dishes and smell your pet odors, they will have a hard time envisioning themselves living in your space.

If carpets just need refreshing from daily wear, you can save on the costs of professional cleaning by renting a steam cleaner. If the carpets are beyond a good commercial shampooing, replace the carpet with new. Consider using a visually textured carpet like a frieze or a cut and loop instead of the common cut pile carpets, in a darker color, as to not show traffic and dirt as easily when showing the home.

Employ the affordable magic of paint. A fresh coat of paint can completely transform your home, but correct color choices are essential. Keep lighter colors in smaller rooms and use neutrals to appeal to varying tastes. Do not forget to give the ceilings a fresh coat of flat paint. Ceilings are moving away from stark white to softer tinted colors like linen which you might consider, but still keep it neutral. Painting all trim and doors also makes a huge statement, but again consider colors other than stark white. We advise clients to consider painting cabinetry as well, like vanities in bathrooms, to jazz up a space. Well chosen accent walls in appropriate tones can excite buyers as well.

Changing decorative door and cabinet hardware with new cabinet knobs, door hinges, door knobs and door stops can also highly impact a space for little cost and effort. Consider upgrading decorative bath hardware as well with well coordinated towel bars and wall mounted shower baskets which are desirable right now. Bright brass hardware is very outdated and should be replaced with an up-to-date finish like satin nickel, chrome, oil rubbed bronze, pewter or something with more character that compliments the home.

Stage to Sell

You should stage the inside of your home to present an uncluttered and spacious effect. For instance, if you have a wall of family photos pack them away and replace them with a complementary art or simple and tasteful wall decor. Buyers need the freedom to visualize the home as their own. Store away toys and keep home offices neat. Keep out only a few of your best home accessories and pack everything else. Personal items such as magazines, grooming accessories and clothing should be put away. Closets should be cleaned and organized, accentuating the storage space. The less buyers see of you in the home, the more they can see themselves there.

Remember when staging your home for resale, unless you have some really big ticket items that are in need of repair or replacement, such as roofing or windows, don’t remodel. You won’t realize enough return on your investment. Compare the costs of hiring against doing a job yourself. Painting is an easy, effective home improvement job that can be expensive when hired out. Consider doing it yourself or having a family and friends help out, but a sloppy job can cost you more in the end.

There are firms in today’s market that specialize in helping a homeowner stage a home for resale. A professional interior design firm can also be employed for this purpose as well to helping you make wise choices that impact your bottom line.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.