Affordable Alternatives to Renovating

If your money, time, effort, and sanity aren’t worth the potential return on a big renovation, there are plenty of easier ways to help your home deliver that heart-eyes-emoji effect for buyers. Instead of focusing on large-scale renovations, consider focusing on cosmetic changes that are lower in cost. Here are five great ideas.

1. Paint the house (no big surprise here). A fresh coat of paint on the inside and outside of the house can bring a polished look to an older home. For interiors, select neutral colors in lighter shades. Your ultimate goal is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the house, so save the swatches of “flamingo sunburst” and “dusky aquamarine” for your new place.

2. Update light fixtures. Light fixtures can highlight the best parts of your home and deliver some design flourish. And this is a relatively simple project to tackle in an afternoon. Consider swapping out any fixtures that are tarnished beyond cleaning for more modern-looking options. Fun fact: Exterior lighting is currently the second-most desired lighting feature, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Want an easy win? Consider motion-sensor floodlights by the garage or charming market lights over the patio.

3. Change accent hardware. Kitchen and bathroom fixtures and hardware are ideal upgrades when you are limited in time. New handles, doorknobs, and faucets can elevate the overall look of a kitchen or bathroom, giving buyers an easier time imagining themselves cooking meals or relaxing in the tub. They might also plant the seed for a buyer to take on an old house and renovate it themselves, inspired by those small touches.

4. Upgrade garage storage spaces. Whether the garage is attached or not, consider adding simple cabinetry, pegboard walls, shelving, or even countertops. Who doesn’t like to indulge that daydream about being a woodworking hobbyist? Buyers with large families will enjoy having additional storage for seasonal items, outdoor toys, and tools within easy reach.

5. Install a patio. A simple patio built with stones, bricks, pavers, gravel, or concrete can liven up your yard without killing your pocketbook. With a little bit of research and comparison shopping, you can achieve a picturesque outdoor living space complete with accent plants and simple landscaping for less than $10 per square foot.

Further reading: How to Give Your House Some Interior Design Love the Sundae Way

Recouping your investment

Small upgrades can give your house a little edge on the competition and actually increase your home’s value. In fact, the changes mentioned in this article are probably worth $2.00 to $3.00 for every dollar you spend. When adding up these changes, you could bump the sale price on the house by more than $10,000.

But if you are still considering a major remodeling effort, your best bet is to stick to one or two major changes. The 2018 Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends report found that sellers will make 2.2 renovations to a home. The projects you choose should allow you to recoup anywhere from 84% to 100% of your costs to avoid significant financial losses. Projects to consider based on the 2019 Remodeling Cost VS Value Report include:

  • Deck Additions: 84.1% cost recoup
  • Garage Door Replacement: 123.8% cost recoup
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel: 87.1% cost recoup
  • Manufactured Stone Veneer: 110.4% cost recoup

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Aubree Kendall

Aubree oversees construction at Sundae. She holds degrees from UCLA and UC Berkeley and was an academic fellow at Cornell. Her Ph.D. focus was in Real Estate Law & Litigation, and she led the Berkeley Haas School of Business Real Estate Team. She is a former Instructor at UC Berkeley and Professor at Mills College and has worked in real estate for more than 10 years.