Tell your sellers: focus on the first impression

Open Gate in Picket FenceHomeowners often ask their estate agents what pre-sale upgrades are likely to give them the best return on their investment, in the form of a higher sale price – and the answer, at the moment, is not a kitchen or bathroom makeover, but exterior updates that improve curb appeal.

This is the finding of the 2012/2013 Cost vs Value Report published by Remodeling magazine, which annually surveys thousands of agents and valuers before listing the 35 most cost-effective home improvement projects for home sellers.

Some of these don’t apply in SA because of the different home construction methods used, but many do, including the one right at the top of the list this year, which is front door replacement – preferably with a steel door. This, it is estimated, will deliver an 85,6% return on expenditure when the home is sold.

Also among the 10 most cost-effective midrange projects were several other exterior upgrades that would be applicable here, including the addition of a wooden deck to the entertainment area (estimated 77,3% return); the replacement of an old garage door with a new one (75,7%); the replacement of steel window-frames with wooden ones (73,3%), the replacement of steel window-frames with vinyl ones (71,2%) and the addition of a composite (non-wood) deck (67,5%).

A minor kitchen remodel, done right, can also bring a good return of around 75%, but both major kitchen and bathroom remodels will give sellers a return on their investment of less than 60%.

In short, the best bet for sellers in the current market is really to focus on improving the “first impression” of their properties. In addition, the magazine notes, the use of durable, low-maintenance materials in the suggested replacement projects appeals to homebuyers who are increasingly looking to reduce both the operational and maintenance costs of their homes.”

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