According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies 2019 report, Americans spent almost $314 million dollars on home renovations and repairs in 2018. That’s a lot of money to make a house a home. As military homeowners, chances are we’re not in a particular house for very long. That doesn’t mean we don’t have laundry lists of improvements and remodels we’d like to make, but it does mean we view any potential renovations with one eye firmly on whether or not we can recoup our investment when it’s time to move on. While experts caution that improvements should first be made to the features buyers don’t necessarily see (think roof replacements or boilers), it can take more than that to make us feel happy in the space we call home. So if you’ve got some money earmarked for remodeling but want to know where best to spend that money, we’ve compiled a list of rooms where modest remodels can bring potentially big returns on investment. Even if you’ll only be in this home for a little while.
Kitchens and Baths. It probably comes as no surprise that kitchen and bath remodels lead the pack on interior renovations that can translate to higher sale prices. The best rule of thumb to follow for these types of renovations is to avoid the major overhaul if possible. This means sanding down and refinishing cabinets instead of replacing them, replacing outdated appliances with new ones, and paying attention to details. Instead of redoing the entire floor plan, replace faucets and fixtures with high-end versions. Stick with traditional materials such as wood floors and cabinets, stone countertops, and neutral color schemes. If you plan to sell, appealing to the broadest base is key. As for bathroom renovations, most experts agree that if you only have one bathroom, or have a master bedroom with no attached bath, it may be more cost effective in terms of selling to consider adding an additional bathroom instead of remodeling an existing one.
Living Rooms, Basements, and Attics. If you’re not planning to stay in your home for more than five years, living room renovations may not be the best investment you can make. Unless you are in an older home and can tear down a few walls to turn closed-off rooms into open, airy communal spaces, most living room remodels just won’t return on your investment like you’d hope. If you have an unfinished basement or attic space, consider finishing them. But here’s the caveat: Make sure you’re not just recreating existing spaces. Finishing these spaces as dedicated home theater rooms, wine cellars, or crafting/office areas tend to be the biggest things buyers look for in additional usable square footage. However, these types of renovations may require more money than you want to pay for the short time you’ll own the house. If you choose to leave these areas alone, consider spending a modest amount to highlight their usability as prime storage areas.
Outdoor Living. We can’t say it enough: Curb appeal is one of the best returns on investment there is in the real estate world. Replacing siding is one of the top remodeling projects for a reason. Buyers’ first impressions of your home can make or break a sale. Replacing garage doors and front doors can bring a serious return on investment when it comes time to sell and are relatively inexpensive upgrades. Another extremely popular outdoor improvement that can lead to a big payoff is adding or remodeling decks. By sprucing up your home’s exterior spaces, you can both enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and feel confident that when it comes time to sell, you’ll have invested wisely.
Things to Consider. Before making any final decisions on remodeling efforts, make sure to keep in mind the following considerations. First, don’t price yourself out of your neighborhood. Whatever you choose to renovate, ensure that it won’t make your house worth more than others in your neighborhood. This will hurt how much you can realistically expect to recoup when it comes time to sell. Pay attention to where you live. Different regions of the country have different styles and renovation costs. Make sure that you take into account local trends and costs for labor. Plan for unexpected costs; very few renovation projects come without a few surprises along the way, so ensure you have money in your budget to handle any issues that may crop up. Finally, it is your home while it’s your home. Sometimes remodels just have to be made to fit the needs of you and your family, regardless of investment concerns. Enjoy your home while you’re in it—just plan ahead for the family that will call it home after you’re gone.