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These 5 Home Improvements Pay Off, According to Real Estate Agents


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Preparing your home to sell is a big undertaking that can easily feel overwhelming. How much money should you invest in your existing home rather than put towards your new place? While your heart’s probably telling you to save each and every penny for your future home, your head should be telling you to spend a little extra time and cash on your current digs. It will pay off in the listing price. To help you choose your upgrades wisely, we tapped into the expert advice of three local real estate agents to see which improvements have the best return on investment.

Here’s what to prioritize:

The Kitchen & Bathroom(s)

“Updating your kitchen is without a doubt a key place you should put your money,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred Old City affiliated agent, Holly Mack-Ward. “Even if you can’t afford (or don’t need) a full rehab, a cosmetic refresh of features—like countertops or appliances—will really pay off.” Or, there are plenty of smaller ticket items you can tweak for a big impact. Coldwell Banker Preferred Haddonfield affiliated agent, Katherine Cohen says, “For under $1,000 you can replace the faucet, update lighting fixtures and add new cabinet door handles—making your kitchen look fresh and functional.” Bathrooms are the next best thing after kitchens. “Everyone wants a bathroom with high functionality and touches of luxury,” says Mack-Ward. “You should definitely leave room in your improvement budget for your bathroom(s).”

Square Footage

We’re not talking about building a massive addition—there are other ways to make your home and living space feel larger and more functional. “Tiny houses make for entertaining TV, but in reality, most buyers want more space, not less,” says Mack-Ward. “Adding to your home’s livable space by finishing your basement is a great way to increase value.” That space can then be used as a workspace, office, playroom or media room.

Inspection Items

“Addressing any major ticket items like the roof, HVAC systems and windows are always important,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred Moorestown affiliated agent Summer Nunn. “You need to consider spending money to keep potential buyers from walking away after their inspections,” insists Mack-Ward. “While these changes don’t necessarily translate to a higher asking price, they can make or break your home’s sale.” Agents also encourage sellers to pay for their own inspection before the house even goes on the market. “Having your own inspection will call out certain items that need to be addressed while preparing your property for sale,” says Cohen. “The $400 inspection fee will be worth it when you get asking price.”

Wow Factor Features

Half the beauty and attraction of buying local homes is the rich history and original features so many of them have. All three agents strongly suggest keeping as many pieces of original architecture as possible. “While it may be tempting to drywall over that original armoire with a missing door and broken drawer, go ahead and pay the relatively large bill to have it properly restored,” Mack-Ward says. “Restoring original features and gorgeous details will no doubt add value to your home—a pretty home always entices buyers.” But there are other, less expensive ways to wow buyers as well. “Don’t underestimate the power of a front door!” says Cohen. “First impressions are so important and sprucing up the door and surrounding space with bright paint, nice landscaping and a functional doorbell is sure to impress buyers.”

Small Tweaks, Big Impact

Not all improvements are major renovations—there are many projects you can easily tackle over the weekend. “The least expensive improvement you can do to boost value would be giving your space a fresh coat of paint,” says Cohen. “Neutralizing any harsh colors and unifying the space with a soft hue will do wonders for elevating the value and the buyer’s perceived value of the home.” There are plenty of other tiny tweaks that will take your space from meh to wow in a matter of days as well, according to Mack-Ward. “Installing on-trend lighting fixtures and hardware can translate to thousands more in a sale,” she says. Another easy improvement? According to Nunn, “a welcoming yard with well-maintained landscape makes a world of difference.”

Ready to make your move? For more information about buying or selling a home in the communities of the Greater Philadelphia area and the Delaware Valley, visit Coldwell Banker Preferred online.