Curb Appeal in Hayes Valley>Question Details

Phill, Other/Just Looking in 94114

We're considering home renovations -- what improvements will bring us the most value?

Asked by Phill, 94114 Tue Sep 11, 2007

My wife and I bought a rambling 2 bed, 2 bath condo a year ago. We're considering doing some renovations but want to make sure that we add value to the property. Does anyone have any advice on how to get the most bang for our buck? How much should we budget for our kitchen? How much will adding an extra bedroom and bathroom add to the value of the home?

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When considering doing renovations, evaluate how long you plan to stay, your purpose in doing the renovations, and the amenities of the properties that will represent your typical comps when you sell.

Immediately, it jumped off the page at me when you said adding a bedroom to a condo. That might be in violation of the CCRs of your development/association. I was glad to see that was already mentioned. Do not try to alter the footprint or add square footage without verifying that your plans are consistent with the regulations. Additionally, make sure you are fully compliant with all permits, also. The absence of permits can snag you when you sell and cost you more than you might guess.

Why do you want to renovate? Solely for resale? Because there are improvements you want for your enjoyment? Because there are things that are really needed?

Some renovations will not provide a return to you greater than the investment made, but might make your property sell faster than the competition. What features do your neighbors have? If your neighbors all have granite counter tops and stainless appliances, and you do not, the competition will have a leg up on you. Buyers look closely at kitchens and baths. They need to be shiny and clean. If you are looking at a short term stay, and simply want to spruce up without a huge investment, consider refacing cabinets, replacing hardware and fixtures such as faucets, towel racks and light fixtures. Chances are that if you do a full blown mega remodel, you might not get back everything you spend. Don’t over improve, or strive to be the best. Do strive to be very good, very desirable and be the best value. In order to sell quickly and for the highest and best, be a better value than your neighboring properties while comfortably fitting into the mix.

Paint is the best bang for the buck. Nothing freshens and brightens for as small as investment as paint.

Floor coverings give a good bang for the buck also. Floors and walls cover such mass and make strong visual imprints. What is king in your area? Tile, carpet, wood floors, laminates? If you are going to sell sooner vs. later, weigh heavier on what your prospective buyer will value. If you are going to live in your existing home for quite a while, buy first and foremost for your lifestyle, what you like and what is most functional for how you live.

Add one or two details and a focal point in each room: A fireplace mantel, a deco drapery rod sporting a valance, a light fixture/chandelier, or moldings. When it comes time to sell, you will have a shining star to highlight in the photos representing your property.

If you are thinking of selling within a year or so, don’t hesitate to call in a Realtor now for input on what buyers value in your neighborhood. Realtors see from the buyers perspective and will give you advice on the collective wants and needs of a group of buyers. Many Realtors are happy to meet with you and provide you this feedback even if you have not intent of selling in the immediate future. Ask a few Realtors to meet with you, and keep their cards for when you are ready to sell.

Kitchens and baths are major to buyers. Carefully look at investment vs. return, and enjoyment for personal use vs. resale. You can spend a lot on these rooms, or you can do the spruce up described earlier. What’s right for you will depend on your condo complex and your specific situation.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
Kitchens and bathrooms are the high selling points in most homes and will get you the most mileage.

Depending on who does your kitchen, quality of cabinets and fixtures or if you are able to do some of the work yourself will depend on the cost. I have seen kitchens go from $7500 to $60,000 plus dollars.

When deciding on adding and extra bedroom and bath to your condo, I would take into consideration what the larger properties have sold for and then factor the cost of adding those two rooms. The cost of construction may exceed the gain.
Web Reference:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in Danville, VA
Hi, Phill,

Here's a quick tip. Check out the 2br condos--at any price--that are new. They most certainly are "up to date," and you get a general idea of what kitchens, baths and other rooms look like at different price points.

I think high gloss paint on woodwork, doors and moldings, as well as new knobs on cabinets and doors are the quickest and least costly. Don't forgey eBay and Craig's List, the best discount sources around.

When it comes to a kitchen, granite is luxe, but Caesarstone doesn't need sealing, so I vote for it every time.

Clean out all your clutter--everything. Make sure your rooms look like a furniture ad; that way buyers can see the room.

Out here in CA, most buyers look at price/sqft. Looking at numbers of BRs is an East Coast thing.
For the most bang for your buck, I wouldn't add a BR, and you probably need the approval of the condo Association.

As for me, a major renovation is something I'd leave for the buyer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 17, 2007
Put most of your money in the bathroom and kitchen.
Kitchen - budget $10,000.00 - granite countertops, solid wood cabinets. Figure $200 per cabinet at 30" wide per cabinet. Use quality faucets. Lighting is very important under upper cabinets, and over the stove, etc.
Better to add the extra bathroom, and if the bedroom keep it simple and clean, and large enough such as 10 X 14 if possible, with extra outlets so you can sell it as more of an office, or extra bedroom
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 16, 2007
Kitchens and bathrooms renovations tend to be the most valuable. Of course there are chances to exclude certain buyers with certain changes, but that is just part of how it works. As long as the style is not too specific, you can still keep a lot of potential buyers with changes that you make. Though with real estate there is a gamble in there somewhere.
Flag Wed Jan 21, 2015
If you undertake a renovation on a condo be sure that what your doing is to make you life better. Don't do it for resale. If you are adding value to a property then kitchens and baths are the best ROI. Talk to your Realtor about what it is you want that you don't have and see if you can find it already done. (Living in a construction site is misarable).
We just spent almost 200K on our renovation. I knew that if we sold when it was completed we would not recoup that investment over the market value of the house in it's prior condition. It was incredibly trying to live throuogh but we are happy with our new kitchen and the additional space.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Here's a link to the 2006 cost vs value report done by Remodeling Magazine.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
Hi Phil, I have created a digital design service for home exterior redesigns without a full renovation, you can see examples of our work here :

By making small improvements you can easily increase the value of your home and of course, make you and your neighbors happy!


Rosemary Williams
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 4, 2014
Kitchens and baths. Kitchens and baths!!!! Always.

But I wouldn't add rooms necessarily. My guess would be that a 3 bedroom, 3 bath condo would start to be priced similarly to single family homes. And that will increase the competition for your property.

Rather, make sure your bathrooms are TIP TOP! And maybe resurface your kitchen cabinets, change out the hardware and put in new (granite?) countertops.

Now if you're looking to improve the property for your own use, you might re-do the kitchen overall.

Incidentally, I'm no longer an advocate of Jacuzzi style bathtubs. I think they sound appealing but anyone who has had one knows that a big whirlpool tub takes a heck of a lot of water to fill. If you're going to change out your tub, make it a soaking tub that is smaller, ergonomic and pretty to look at.

Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 17, 2007
Since you said condo, I would recommend you check your POS and be sure you can renovate by adding a bedroom/bathroom before doing the work. Some associations are extremely restrictive to owners adding square footage/changing the footprint of the units.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
I understand where you are coming from but without knowing the property it's difficult accurately tell you. A 250k home in Iowa won't buy you a condo here so that has to be taken into consideration. Typically though kitchen and bath improvement do offer a return. You might like to look at what some of your neighbors have done as a guide. I would also call your Realtor. I frequently consult with home owners to help them make the right decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 11, 2007
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