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The Plasterhouse

Make Smart Home Improvements

With COVID-19 on the rise across America, more and more people are staying home, and most of us don’t see that changing any time soon. Many of us are using the time to do small and large home improvements. Others are looking to put in a pool or swim spa or add features or spaces that make being home more comfortable for the whole family. That could mean finishing a basement or converting attic space for a quiet office area away from the kids. I had to put a new roof on my house this year and give it a fresh coat of paint. Now, I would love to start tackling some of the projects I’ve let go on the inside!

Some of us are even willing to paint or tackle these projects ourselves.  Creative use of technology and video tutorials on YouTube /Pinterest has made DIY projects more accessible. Don’t worry if you are still leaving it to the Pros, that’s okay too!

I had two friends put their houses on the market this week to take advantage of the hot real estate market in suburban Western Connecticut. The inventory is so low - there are offers on houses within 24 hours - the number of bidding wars that are going on is just incredible. 

All of this has prompted me to ask an expert, so I decided to inquire with my brother, Darrell Burne who is a  Broker Associate, Realtor ePRO Coldwell Banker Realty

I’m curious. I asked, “Where should we be spending our time and money if we decide to renovate? What home improvements really pay off when the time comes to sell your house?”

Darrell provided us with some insights:

He said, “That’s an important question for any homeowner contemplating moving or remodeling.  And the only possible answer is a somewhat complicated one.”

“When thinking about major improvements – room additions, total replacements of kitchens, and baths, etc., they rarely pay off in the near term. Research shows that across America, over a very long period of time, that even the most necessary major improvements are unlikely to return their full cost if a house is sold within two or three years. So, if you have invested $30,000 to finish a basement, you won’t get that back if you were to sell immediately.”

I asked, “Does that mean that major home improvements are a bad idea?”

He replied, “Absolutely not. It does mean, though, that if your current house falls seriously short of meeting your family’s needs you need to think twice – and think carefully – before deciding to undertake a major renovation. Viewed strictly in investment terms, major improvements rarely make as much sense as selling your present home and buying one that’s carefully selected to provide you with what you want.

  • Even if you have a special and strong attachment to your house and feel certain that you could be happy in it for a long time- if only it had 2 more bedrooms and another bath, for example, there are a few basic rules that you ought to keep in mind. Perhaps most important advice is that you should never –unless you absolutely don’t care at all about your house’s eventual resale value – improve your  house to the point where its desired sales price would be more than 20 percent higher than the most expensive of the other houses in the immediate neighborhood. If you try to raise the value of your house too high, that is, and surrounding properties will pull it down.”

Darrell shared some other tips worth remembering too:

  • Never rearrange the interior of your house in a way that reduces the total number of bedrooms to less than three.
  • Never add a third bathroom to a two-bath house unless you don’t care about ever recouping your investment.
  • Swimming pools rarely, if ever return what you spend to install them. This goes for sunrooms and finished basements too.”

He further explained, “If you decide to do what is usually the smart thing and move rather than improve, it’s often the smaller, relatively inexpensive improvements that turn out to be most worth doing. However, small and relatively inexpensive changes can pay off in a big way by making your home more attractive to buyers, especially if you are deciding to move now. 

  • Start painting - one of the least expensive things you can do to transform a space.
  • Change carpets, refinish your floors, freshen your floor tiles - get rid of those old cracked tiles, change knobs or a faucet. 
  • Change a discolored toilet bowl - seriously! Put out a new bar or  bottle of soap or kitchen hand towels, you’ll be amazed how these little things can help transform a space
  • Making sure all the windows work
  • Walk your property - get rid of dead trees and shrubs
  • Freshen your room with a new print(s), put out a fresh candle or diffuser so your home smells inviting
  • Repurpose an existing space’

While these are trivial compared with adding a bathroom, such things can have a big and very positive impact on prospective buyers. Showing that your house is clean, free of clutter can be a deciding factor for a buyer. Even if you aren’t sure if you are selling, these are things you can start to do now and will make you feel better in your own space. 

I hope you are inspired to fall in love with your home again. If you need some inspiration, pick up Cozy at Home, and find more than 100 ways to love your home again or stroll through our home goods collection to help freshen your space. If you are selling, a good broker can help you decide which expenditures make sense and which don’t, and can save you a lot of money in the process. Contact The Burne Group if you have additional questions, or if you are looking for a broker in the Western Connecticut area.

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Chris and The Piper and Dune Family


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