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Is upgrading a home worth the expense?

Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

By S.E. Slack

Should you upgrade your kitchen or bathroom to snag a higher price when you list your home? While some say that such remodels can add substantial value to your home, others caution homeowners to think critically before spending money in the hopes of earning even more. Upgrading can be worth the expense – sometimes.
The months before placing your home on the market are not the time to go crazy with a bright color you’ve always liked or a personalized heated towel rack in the bathroom.

Real estate investor and home expert Carla Showalter of Bulk Home Buyers said homeowners should first consider the style and location of their home when upgrading any room. The owner of a traditional colonial home in Kentucky should stick to that architectural style rather than upgrading the kitchen with Venetian Gothic cabinets.

“You don’t want to have a contemporary bathroom in a traditional log home, for example,” she said. “Upgrades only add value if they enhance the beauty and function of the home.”

Don’t try upgrading on the cheap, either – buyers notice details. Get cabinets professionally painted instead of grabbing a brush on your own, for instance. And be sure to get proper permits when needed so that potential buyers don’t get nervous about the quality and durability of the upgrades.

In the end, the local market will determine how important the updates are. If your home is the only one with an updated kitchen in the neighborhood, that will stand out. If it’s the last one to finally update, you’re playing catch up and shouldn’t expect a huge jump in value.

With spring – and the prime home-selling season – on the way, it’s time to get moving if you do plan to make any upgrades. Ask your real estate agent to help you determine the need for upgrades, too. They know which homes yours will be up against and can offer guidance on the types of improvements those homes boast.