Trulia San D…, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

When considering your return on investment, where is money best spent when remodeling a home?

Asked by Trulia San Diego, San Diego, CA Thu Mar 7, 2013

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John & Janis Arendsen’s answer
To readdress your specific question regarding where to spend money to remodel YOUR home I'm assuming you mean a home you own presently not one you want to purchase.

Once again I digress. If you have the room on your property and meet all your jurisdictional building and zoning criteria i.e. square footage requirements set backs, CC&R's if applicable then I would strongly consider an ADU.

What with the Baby Boomers caught in the middle of the "Sandwich Generation" Paying for the housing of their unemployed children while tending to their parents needs additional room and even separated living quarters on one property is significantly increasing in popularity.

You can spend from 25k and up to the sky is the limit for a kitchen remodel and from 10 to 50k for a bathroom remodel. A 500 to 750 Granny Flat or "Backyard Cottage" could be built and/or installed for under 100k and you would be providing additional living space and/or income producing space which you will soon see as being the further.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 12, 2013
#1 - Paint
#2 - Carpet
#3 - Steel Front Door
#4 - Kitchen
#5 - Bathrooms
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013

Here are the Top 3 projects that can bring parts of the home up-to-date or add living space:

Replacing exterior siding with upscale fiber cement. The most cost-effective thing you can do to your home this year is to replace old siding with new, higher-end fiber cement.

Replacing an entry door with a mid-level 20-gauge steel door is an inexpensive upgrade at $1,238 on average, but it pays back handsomely and greatly improves curb appeal.

An attic remodel is the cheapest way to add space and a bathroom within the house. A basement remodel is the next most cost-efficient way to add living space, although code requirements for headroom and exterior doors make that project more complicated and more expensive.

Feel free to get in touch with me anytime if you have questions at all.

J. Reeves
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 5, 2013
According to me , remodeling the kitchen and the living room are the two areas where one can expect a return on investment.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
If i were you i would prefer to buy a Multifamily housing Because every property is different and because each owner has a unique vision for his or her financial future, it’s imperative that you hire a company with experience in this specific sector. Multifamily properties are unique, and residential realtors aren’t usually savvy when it comes to the inherent intricacies of an apartment complex.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 11, 2013
I would say make sure you spend on visible rather than invisible renovations such as new insulation,foundation upgrade etc.While invisible are very important to the way your home functions visible renovation such as new bathroom, kitchen upgrade is what makes your home more appealing and makes it easier to sell at a higher price to re scoop your investments.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Mar 11, 2013
I'd still take a look at an ADU if zoning permits it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 8, 2013
Two suggestions: first, go to our education site and learn (search by key words that address your concerns); next, go to our rental site and search for comparables at our interactive website This website can also be uploaded as a mobile version so you can see what's available on your smartphone including video tours of the houses, condos and apartments in which you have interest. This same interactive site allows you to apply online, assist you with our lease documents and get you moved in to your new home. Later you will have a secure place to pay your rent online and thereby never have a problem with late rent penalties. If you have a maintenance issue you can communicate the same way. We provide personal resident care with technological convenience. Our rental owners have their own portal to view bids for work, access to financial reports and direct deposit of owner funds. Neil
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 8, 2013
They usually say kitchens and baths. But go to the or google your question. There is a website that deals directly with returns on remodels.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 8, 2013
A note on ‘flipping”: Many “flippers” in our area are forced to be remodelers as we cannot even buy the better properties since the “first look rules” allow owner occupants the first shot at the properties on a 15 -30 day program depending on the agency involved. The properties that fall to us are the leftovers that are in really bad shape, we are forced to tear out sheet rock, redesign, new cabinets, wiring, plumbing ect…. I have been doing 12 per year for the last 5 years and I have not had a carpet & paint quickie. Most homes in our area are 900-1500 sq. ft. with an average cost of 100-150k, many are purchased for 60-90k with rehab budgets of 20-40k with a projected time frame of 3-4 months; with rehab expense, real estate fees & other expenses we project a profit of 10-18%. In our market (the Midwest) no one is getting rich but doing well and working every day. Roberts right about, we make money when we buy the home, but wrong about doing as little as we can before we bring it market. With the inspectors in our area & market conditions in our area we would be punished with a low price, excessive days on market or even a no sale re-foreclosure. Ps our homes average less than 30 days on market with most selling within a week.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Mar 8, 2013
If you are looking to sell your current house and purchase another one, I would say your money is best spent on making your next house the home you want it to be.

Side note -
Flippers don't make their money by remodeling homes. If they did, they would be called remodeling contractors. Flippers make their money when they purchase their homes. What they do after that is as little as they can to bring it to market as quickly as possible.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Normally I would have gone whole heartedly with most of the commenters answers: kitchen, baths, etc. However, nowadays with the Baby Boom generation looming on the horizon I'd have to say that given your circumstances it would be an "ADU".
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
The money is best spent with the designer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
It’s a little more than just saying kitchen then bath, its more about seeing it as a total package along with the details within. Most of the older homes I remodel do not have an open floor plan & the first thing I look at is how to take a 1960’s home and add features & design elements which are consistent with today’s expectations & style. It usually starts in the kitchen with tearing down walls and opening up the floor plan, adding a main floor laundry and walk-in pantry are always high on my list. Then you get into design elements such as cabinets, granite tops, lighting & appliances to transform the total package. We use the same approach when working on the baths; it’s thoughtful and well planned with of course an emphasis on return on investment. Sometimes you have to make a large investment to recoup your investment. Hope this helps with some food for thought! Scott
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
No remodel gets back 100% of your money, but typically the bathroom and kitchen updates yield you the greatest returns. Bear in mind however, that there is such a thing as 'over-improving' for a given price point or neighborhood, i.e. Don't spend 25K on a custom kitchen remodel if your condo is only worth 200K...

The simplest and least expensive ways to improve your property is in paint, both inside and out, planting flowers, rolling out new sod, fresh carpet, etc. These 'simple' fixes can make a big difference to an old or neglected home.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Kitchen and bath no question. Worst is a pool. Paper, paint and flooring are the cheapest if the rest is OK>
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
As a home "flipper" (32 last year) and agent the old saying is "follow the water". The other one is "Men pay for the houses but women buy them." And women want a nice kitchen and beautiful bathrooms even in this modern era. You will get the most RIO (return on investment) here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
The rooms people remodel are the kitchen and bathrooms. BUT, keep in mind it must be quality --- quality appliances, quality materials and quality construction! These will always attract buyers. Estimate your return to be about 75-90% of the cost of updating one of these rooms.

I hope this helps!

Rosita McLaurin
REALTOR, Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource
Realty Experts
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
I would first analyze your budget and desired return on investment from the renovations. Where kitchens and bathrooms are extremely good investments they are also significantly more expensive than the basics which instantly change any room in a home. Paint and flooring. After paint and flooring I would invest in the kitchen and bathrooms. However, you want to ensure you look at the current trends in the market place and community you are in. Kitchen and bathroom remodels are disproportionately more expensive than the rest of the home.

I also suggest you take a long hard look at the design and color combinations to ensure everything ties together well. You should certainly consider hiring someone in design to help you choose your color schemes and decor.

Selecting a good contractor is also extremely important. As to see examples of their past work AND speak to past clients. Ensure you speak to the references before you decide on whom to use.
Construction work is not cheap and you will get what you pay for. The cheapest is seldom the best.

Lastly if you are renovating with intent to sell I would select a listing agent who stages your home and one who uses the very best photographer giving you stunning and brilliant High Definition photos and a virtual tour. This will ensure your home gets maximum traffic and views!

Hope this helps! Good luck and feel free to call if you have any questions.

John Reeves
Reef Point Realty & Construction
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Kitchen has been the number one place for % of cost recouped, then family room, bathroom, master suite, home office and so on. It also depends on how old is the home and where it needs most attention first. I have a very good hand out that shows remodeling job, average job cost, % of cost recouped. I can email it to you if you like.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
Certainly kitchen, bathrooms, and master bed, if any, in that order.
Some of the most recent trend, based on the area, would suggest adding features such as wine fridge or cellars as well as opening spaces, if possible, and if it makes sense with your budget.
You should never do anything too personal (such as accent walls or using very unique colors). always leave the space as a blank canvas for the next buyer to add.
Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
The National Association of Realtors have done studies on this and they have found that the best return on investment is in the kitchen and then followed by the bath rooms.

Maureen McGrath
Prudential California Realtyu
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
IMO, kitchen! (That is assuming you don't have some glaring other issues :) )
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 7, 2013
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