Trulia Roger, Home Buyer in Alameda, CA

What's the most important home improvement to add to your home value?

Asked by Trulia Roger, Alameda, CA Wed Apr 25, 2007

The first thing people always seem to do is to put granite everywhere. Granite counter tops, granite floors, granite water beds, granite ceilings, granite showers, granite ovens, granite wallpaper, etc. Is that really a good way to add value to a home, or just some fad that will look as dumb in 2015 as orange shag carpet looks now?

Help the community by answering this question:


Kitchen and bathroom remodels (and according to the article linked below, vinyl siding!!) generally add to a home's value - but contrary to what a lot of people believe, you generally won't get back the amount you put into the remodel. In most cases, you'll get back maybe 75% to 90% of the cost, so you should do it for your living enjoyment, rather than for trying to make a profit. At least that way, you'll have the benefit of the pleasure a new kitchen or bathroom offers.

An article I read said that the eyes of buyers light up today when they see a home description containing the the words/terms: granite, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen, stainless steel appliances - but this of course may change in the future.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 4, 2007
Roger, improvements to the bath and kitchen historically rank highest. However, the bigger question is what you are trying to achieve...if you're going to spend money, make the home as nice as possible...or with the idea of "when I sell, I want to make as much as possible" are two different objectives.
If your long term goal is to stay in the home for 5-10 years, then with almost any improvment your beneift is "quality of life". It's your home, enjoy living in it.
If the goal were to sell it for maximum profit in a year, maybe it's more of a business/investment question. The very best improvement is probably to add move living space (permitted, of course). Depending on the particluar details, adding a master bedroom with bath and walkin closet to a two bedroom home would make a significant increase in value.
As always, I recommend determining what you are trying to achieve, go from there.
You didn't ask, but the worst improvement is to over-improve for the neighborhood.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 12, 2007
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
Kitchen and bathroom remodels seem to be the most common ways up improving the house and adding value. People seem to recommend budgeting 8-10% of the home's value on the remodel, with the idea that you'll recover 90% of what you put in. But have seen IKEA's line of kitchens? They're priced around the $4K mark (as opposed to the $50+K!). They look pretty good too.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 25, 2007
I agree granite may not be the answer, but it is clearly what today's buyers want. If you are going to spend money, history has shown that kitchens and bathrooms will get you the most return when you go to sell.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 25, 2007
Value is in the eye of the buyer... and figuring out what turns them on the most is just chasing a moving target. Why not, instead, prioritize on whatever needs fixing... what's been bugging you? If it IS a countertop, currently granite is the answer. But if your faucet leaks, your windows stick, or the dishwasher doesn't work, pick what matches the existing decor in your home. Try the link below for plenty of homeowner opinions once you've made up your project list. If you're not selling for a while, you have no reason to try to top what you see in the model homes - unless that's what you like!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon May 21, 2007
Roger: My advice? Start at the street and look at your home objectively. Does the home need paint? Landscaping? Clean or new windows? You never get that second chance to make the first impression.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat May 12, 2007
Roberta Murp…, Real Estate Pro in San Diego, CA
This question has 2 answers. For new construction it is all about the "sizzle", the Viking stove, the granite tops, the Central Air, "smart" homes etc. The buyer has no worries about mechanicals b/c everything is new. You are generally paying for a clean slate that has very nice touches for the buyer to add personalization around. The most expensive thing for a buyer to invest in are the appliances and kitchen/bathroom design - so yes for new construction, or anything under 5 years old this is enough.

But now, what about a row house? or a colonial? or a victorian home? Does granite even work in here? In these homes the mechanicals - the guts are the most important value, double paned windows, 220 wiring, good plumbing, heat and a/c... whether or not the counter is granite is the last thing on a buyers mind if the windows are old, or the ceiling has a leak in it... in these homes the roof and mechanicals make all the difference, b/c the whole home will be personalized, and the buyer will invest in whatever kitchen they want. In the end you have 2 different buyers and 2 different types of properties. So you need to ask yourself a very important question: "Who is the buyer of my home?" Are they techies? or are they gardening types? Do they value sunlight or proximity to a night club - this will dictate how "pret a porte" the home needs to be to demand high dollars.

Sur egranite is nice, but if I want a home with a western or 1950's feel, it just won't go and the 50K you spent in your kitchen will mean nothing to me b/c i want to rip it out.... and that's assuming that I even care to cook...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 9, 2007

I agree that granite can be overdone, and for a while there every remodel seemed to look the same. However, I think ANY current remodel choice will be hard-pressed to out-ugly orange shag carpeting. As someone who buys buildings for my own account and fixes them up and sells them as well as for clients, the best things you can do to beautify your home in terms of return on investment are as follows:

1. Outside - initial impressions set the bar for expectations, so even if you gut the inside if you don't address curb appeal you are starting from a negative position.

2. Kitchens & Baths - these rooms are used all the time and remodeling these are your best bets to increase sales price. We are seeing more marble and cesarstone these days on countertops.

3. Roof - one of the first questions potential buyers and agents ask is how old is the roof.

4. Plumbing and elec upgrades - even though you can't see these for the most part it give a potential buyer peace of mind.

Since we do these a lot we have a long list of contractors and material suppliers I'm willing to share upon request.

There are other things you can do, but those would be based upon specific property needs.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 4, 2010
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 24, 2010
Improvements vary greatly on your location...but in my professional opinion its about keeping it simple so you can maximize profits....If the proect costs you 10K and only adds 7K than your out 3K....I dont need to sya anyhting else...
Focus on simple Items:
Fresh Neurtal Paint
Updated Lighting
Updated Electrical plates and switches
-Pretty much try to make the house feel fresh and new.
I do think Granite/Corain/Quartzite etc etc is a really nice touch to any home kitchen/bath...but keep it clean an neutral and try to appeal to as many people as possible....

Also - Curb Appeal and the FRONT DOOR - If your front door looks like poop what kind of first impression do you think you just made? - Paint the door, get new hardware, kick plate too. (Don't go over the top - unless its a Million Dollar House) - Next is Foyer - often overlooked but aside from the Front(Curb Appeal) its the first and last place a buyer looks when inside the house! - Make sure everything from this vantage point is appealing!
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 13, 2009
Unlikely as it may seem, the addition of a garage to your home adds the most value according to some lenders. The Nationwide Building Society suggests that by adding an extra bedroom can increase a home's price by an average of 10.8% across Britain and converting existing space such as a loft will have much less impact on the price. The addition of a single garage will on average see the property rise by 11.1% or 20.4% for a double width.

Why? The answer is simple; the Home Office has published figures that nearly 1.7 million vehicle-related thefts were recorded during 2006-07 making up nearly 19% of all recorded crime. Securing your car or bike offers peace of mind as well as lowering your insurance premium.

Modern sectional buildings are offered with a host of security options including secure steel framed main garage doors, multi-point locking, laminated secure windows and the benefit of steel reinforced concrete sections which are virtually impossible to penetrate.

A concrete sectional garage requires little more than a flat concrete raft foundation, if it is below 30m² then Building Regulations will not be required. Relaxation in the Planning Rules allow most home owners to add this addition without seeking council approval although it is suggested that you contact your Local Authority for guidance in this matter. For convenience, most concrete garages are constructed in less than a day.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 3, 2008
Hi Roger-

Historically speaking, the best return on investment for improving your property are the following:

1. Kitchen Remodel
2. Bathroom Remodel
3. Add Hardwood Floors

Good Luck with your new project!!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 8, 2007
I agree with Kitchen as the number one, but if you are talking bang for your buck, the garden/backyard is the best place to make eye catching improvements.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 8, 2007
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