By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to improve a home and make it more sellable, according to HomeGain’s 2012 National Home Improvement Survey.
HomeGain surveyed nearly 500 real estate professionals nationwide to determine the top do-it-yourself home improvement projects that offers some of the biggest bang for your buck when selling a home.
“In a buyer’s market, sellers need to dress their homes for success before putting them on the market,” says Louis Cammarosano, HomeGain’s general manager. The survey shows “that do-it-yourself home improvements like cleaning and de-cluttering and lightening and brightening your home are cost-effective ways of increasing your chances of selling faster and closing closer to the asking price than homes rushed to the market with no improvements.”
Here are the top five projects that real estate professional recommend to their clients--projects that have the potential to offer some of the highest returns on investment at resale, according to the 2012 HomeGain survey:
1. Clean and declutter
What to do: “Removing personal items; wash and clean all areas of inside and outside of house; freshen air; remove clutter from furniture, counters, and all areas of the home; organize closets; polish woodwork and mirrors.”
Estimated cost: $402
Potential ROI: 403% or $2,024 to the home’s sale price
2. Lighten and brighten
What to do: “Open windows; clean windows and skylights inside and outside; replace old curtains or removing curtains; remove other obstacles from windows blocking light; repair lighting fixtures; make sure window open easily.”
Estimated cost: $424
Potential ROI: 299% or $1,690
3. Repair electrical and plumbing
What to do: “Update leaky or old faucet spouts and handles; repair leaks under bathroom or kitchen sinks; laundry room pipes; toilets should be in good working condition; remove mildew stains.
“Update electrical with new wiring for modern appliances and/or Internet and other audio/visual equipment requested in homes today; door bell should work; service sprinkler systems; fix lights and outlets that do not turn on; replace old plug points with new safety fixtures.”
Estimated cost: $808
Potential ROI: 293% or $3,175
What to do: “Front and back yards; add bark mulch; rake and remove leaves, branches and debris; plant bushes and flowers; add planters and hanging plants; mow grass; water lawn and plants; remove weeds and dead plants; manicure existing plants; any yardwork that improves the curb appeal of a home.”
Estimated cost: $564
ROI: 215% or $1,777
What to do: “Add fresh flowers; removing personal items; reduce clutter; rearrange furniture; add new props or furniture to enhance room/s; play soft music; hang artwork in walls.”
Estimated cost: $724
ROI: 196% or $2,145
However, the survey finds that the home improvement projects that offer the highest potential price increase to a home’s resale value continues to be updating the kitchen and bathroom. Home sellers could potentially see a $3,255 price increase to their home at resale by tackling kitchen and bathroom projects, according to the HomeGain survey. But those projects aren't usually cheap to do. Check out our post earlier this year about the 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value report to see what home remodeling projects offer the biggest potential returns at resale.