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Over + Under Improvements

Know the limits when taking on a remodel



Countless home improvement shows populate the networks, presenting viewers with all of the possibilities of remodeling. Most of these shows do give a "realistic" view of what is entailed in renovating a home, but there is one topic that is often overlooked: over or under improving a home. This occurs when a home is updated with elegant finishes and fixtures that would be found in a highly priced home, but the neighborhood or location doesn't support that level of home or price point. In contrast is when a home is updated to a lesser degree in a neighborhood with homes that boast high-end design. 

Some home remodels start with a specific issue that needs to be addressed and then expands out from there. Replacing a broken refrigerator can lead to "why not replace all the appliances," then the new appliances will look too nice in the old kitchen, so might as well replace the cabinets and countertops as well. What often isn't discussed is how far to go while improving a home with plans of resale in the near future. It's all about finding that "just right" amount of updating. Where to start and stop with this process all depends on a few factors: location/ neighborhood, sale prices in the area, the current condition of the home and budget.

  • Milivoj Kuhar/Unsplash

Take a look at what comparable homes are selling for; what will it take to make this home look as good or better than the comps? Make a wish list of renovations and how much they'll cost. Take the current market value of the home, now add in the completed renovation budget. If similar homes in the neighborhood are selling for more than that total, then the improvements would be a smart investment.  

If the budget is minimal or time is limited, a renovated home can be as simple as doing all of the necessary repairs and maintenance, deep cleaning the home, painting the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, adding new hardware and painting all the walls. If there is more left in the budget, try replacing light fixtures. Continuing on this path will give the whole home a cared for, fresh, updated feel. This project can be very DIY-friendly and add significant value. A homebuyer's perceived value begins when viewing pictures of a home online first. It's then backed up by driving through the neighborhood and viewing the home in person, which leaves the strongest, longest-lasting impression.

Different homes in various locations command a certain number of updates to be completed in order to achieve top dollar. The best practice is to consult with an experienced real estate professional to determine the appropriate amount and type of work to complete. Professionals can guide homeowners toward the most important improvements in buyers' eyes, and will be able to assist with prioritizing which projects should be completed now and which ones to skip.

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