The average homeowner hangs on to their home about 10 years. When it comes time to sell, some improvements done in that time will retain value, but others will actually detract from it.
Our team of top downtown Boston real estate agents came up with a list of eight ways that home improvements could send buyers running (or cause them to submit a lower offer).
Let’s face it: Downtown Boston home buyers are aging. Many baby boomers are now empty-nesters, and they want to downsize and/or retire in the Seaport condo. But giving up square footage doesn’t mean they’re willing to cut corners on ease of living — in fact, many are hoping to “age in place” which means they’re looking for wide hallways, low thresholds, and easy-to-grab door handles. They need room to maneuver in the bathroom and they hate bathtubs. Whatever remodel you’re doing, keep disabled and senior citizen buyers in mind, and by all means — put in a walk-in shower before you add a Jaccuzzi.
In 2018, the average homeowner doing a major kitchen remodel spent over $62,000 on top-end appliances, granite countertops, all-new cabinets, etc. However, the resale value on that shiny luxury kitchen was only $40,560, according to remodeling.com. While a super-deluxe kitchen isn’t going to hurt your home value, making it worth less than when you started, it’s such a bad return on investment that we thought we should include it on this list. Beacon Hill condo buyers love a well appointed kitchen, but they’re not necessarily willing to pay more for it. On the other hand, doing some light remodeling on an outdated kitchen has a much better chance of boosting your Boston real estate value.
Landscaping is a double-edged sword. It generates curb appeal like nothing else, and home buyers’ eyes pop at the words “landscaped property” on the listing description. However, go too far with it, and your home might become too high-maintenance. Avoid features that create ongoing work for buyers: thirsty gardens that need a lot of summer watering, and plants that tend to take over like certain varieties of bamboo.
It should go without saying, but as Boston real estate agents, we see all kinds of stuff. From projects half-finished to shoddy work by unlicensed contractors, to tile work and flooring that is simply ugly or quickly looks dated — there are a lot of ways to mess up home improvements. Again, normal sells, and while it’s important that your home is decorated to your taste, try to avoid any permanent changes that make a big statement. For example, wallpaper is labor-intensive to remove, and the pattern you love might be one buyers hate. Carpeting is another tricky call — go with wood flooring and rugs whenever possible, or choose a carpet in appropriate rooms (bedrooms, dens) that is neutral in color and high-quality.
Improvements outside of the Condo rules.
Condos are a great starter for Boston real estate investment , but after a few years you might be itching to change things to your liking. However, some of those changes — especially if they’re to the exterior of the condo — might be against the covenants and restrictions of the condo Homeowner’s Association. Read the Boston condo rule book carefully, and if you really can’t live with a rule, go to the condo association (after all, you paid to be a member) and see if you can’t get it changed. Otherwise, buyers will run into problems trying to buy a condo that is not in compliance.
Improvements made without a permit.
Many home improvement projects in Beacon Hill require some kind of permit, whether it’s for electrical or plumbing work or adding square footage to the home It may be tempting to save money by not getting the necessary permits for the work, but when it comes time to sell, you will have to let buyers know about the un-permitted work on the sellers’ disclosure form. Since the buyers will then take on the risk of not having the proper permits, they will either offer less or ask you to get the work permitted after the fact. Rule of thumb, the higher the price tag the more the buyer will care about the lack of permits.
Curious about the value of your Beacon Hill condo? We would be happy to visit your Back Bay condo and forecast out your home value for when you’re ready, and while we are there we can give tips on preparing the home for the Boston real estate market.
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