A question I often get from clients — and even family and friends — is, “What should I remodel? What’s worth the investment?”
One client in particular, a couple who lives in East Sac, had two major potential upgrades: a new HVAC system and a complete kitchen overhaul.
Before getting into the details of their upgrades, I first had to consider that they want to sell their starter Bungalow here in East Sac and get into a larger home, probably within the next 1-2 years. Given this fact, I had one main piece of advice: Spend some money on upgrades to make your home attractive to a new buyer, but don’t overspend for the market you’ll ultimately be selling to. In this case, this couple will most likely sell to a first-time homebuyer. Although East Sacramento is one of the few neighborhoods where you can actually realize more “return on investment” for upgrades, one should still consider the current market and what type of buyer they will obtain before spending thousands of dollars on upgrades that they will not get to enjoy in the long run.
First let’s look at the HVAC system, which is old, but a licensed company that performed basic maintenance said it’s still running well—and should continue to do so for another 5-7 years. After the refunds offered in 2010, a new top-of-the-line system still would have cost these homeowners $7,000—which they needed to save for their “move up” home. Financing that money likely wouldn’t have increased the overall list price for their home—but it would have hurt their finances for purchasing a new one. Since the home already has an HVAC system working in good condition, that already gives them the competitive edge over some of the other comparable homes in their neighborhood that do not have a central heat/air system at all.
Upgrading their kitchen is a similar situation, but has a difference: Remodeling their galley-style setup likely would give this couple the competitive edge when selling, but it ultimately wouldn’t provide much of a difference in terms of layout or additional storage. They likely would have spent thousands to get the same kitchen that’s visually more appealing, but had the same functionality. My advice? Paint the cupboards and walls, add stainless appliances and re-tile the countertop using granite—all work they can do themselves for a reasonable price. Even if they couldn’t add more space to the kitchen, having upgraded appliances, including a dishwasher, along with some other modern updates, would definitely provide the extra value over the other charming — yet older and not updated — comparable properties when they decided to sell.
The bottom line is that many aspects of a home can be upgraded without heavy artillery. Before doing any remodeling, I would first consider the length of time you plan to be in the home to enjoy those upgrades and realize the full return on investment. Second, if you plan to sell, consider what type of market you will sell to and what will ultimately give you that competitive “edge” over the competition. Even in East Sacramento, the types of upgrades you choose to do can vary greatly depending on your immediate neighborhood. For example, a home in the “Fab 40’s” may need a more thorough update than say, a smaller Bungalow in Meister Terrace.
If you’d like any more advice on remodeling or the current value of your home, please leave me a comment here or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’d like any contractor referrals, I have those too!
Have a great Spring Break!