Realtor Magazine has just come out with its annual Cost vs. Value Survey, home improvement projects that give home owners “a greater return on their investment when it comes time to sell”. Sometimes I carp that these “top 10 upscale projects” are so regionally biased as to be laughable (not a bad thing if you have to come up with a blog post every week) but let’s put aside our effete wine-sipping Silicon Valley sensibilities for the moment and check out some of Realtor Magazine’s “remodels that pay off”, in the order of their payoff:
1. Siding replacement (fiber-cement).
Yes, this is the biggie, the top “upscale project” that recoups a whopping 87% of its cost. And all this time you thought granite was big!
3. Siding replacement (foam-backed vinyl).
By now you’re detecting a trend. And all this time you thought granite was big!
6. Grand entrance (fiberglas).
By now you’re detecting a trend: a preference for materials that don’t occur in nature.
Okay, so maybe weather conditions are a bit harsh in other parts of the US, or maybe paper mache wasn’t the great siding material everyone thought it was, but does that mean we should laugh at our fellow citizens hunkered down in the howling wastes of the Rust Belt or Sun Belt? Yes, I think it does.
And should we scoff at the idea of a “grand entrance” made of the same immensely versatile material used to make catcher’s masks? Yes, I think we should. Although, honestly, they don’t look that bad in the photos.
So how about some home remodeling projects with more relevance to us Silicon Valley sophisticates? Nationally, bathroom and kitchen remodels tie for eighth place on the top ten list, returning 63.6% of cost. Here? Well, anything involving “lavish use of granite” will deliver a big payoff you bet. And in an area where over-scheduled, extremely well-paid professionals place a premium on “new” and “fine finishes”, a kitchen blinged out on a careful budget delivers at least 100% of its cost, if not more. Baths? Not quite so much, since your bathroom probably isn’t the epicenter of your family’s busy lifestyle, but for a prospective buyer a new bath or baths can be the tipping point between “go” and “no go”, especially if the kitchen and baths were all remodeled at the same time and with comparable taste and materials.
Conspicuously missing from Realtor Magazine’s top 10 bang-for-the-buck list is landscaping, especially in front to say howdy to the buyers, but if you’ve ever looked at photos of homes for sale in the Midwest you’ll understand this oversight. When the weather is that bad, that much of the time, not much thrives or even survives unless it’s made of materials that don’t occur in nature.
So I’m predicting that next year “front landscaping (fiberglas)” will rank highly in Realtor Magazine’s survey.
copyright © John Fyten 2014