January 22nd, 2020 at 11:00 am


Congratulations! You finally moved into the home of your dreams. Well, almost the home of your dreams. Maybe you’re thinking of upgrading to high-end kitchen appliances, or converting the bedroom next to the master into a huge walk-in closet. Whatever you’re planning, don’t leap into any major projects until you’ve had a chance to live in your new home for a while and think about your real estate goals, experts advise. 

Planning to stay a few years until your family needs something bigger? Considering living there until you can sell for a nice profit? Feeling the urge to tackle a bunch of DIY projects to customize the home to fit your lifestyle? They’re all great pursuits. But it’s good to know how each modification might help or hurt your property’s future–as well as your own.

Elisa Bartron Hills, an agent in our Santa Barbara office, and part of Bartron Real Estate Group, has seen it all when it comes to over- and under-improving homes. We talked with her about some of the best and worst upgrades, and found some others for you to ponder.

Don’t make it too personal

One of the biggest challenges to upgrading a house is to keep the changes from being overly personal, Elisa said. The goal should always be to make areas like the kitchen and bathrooms objectively beautiful so they will appeal to most potential buyers. “You want to elicit the least possible amount of objections when you decide to sell, so select classic styles on big-ticket items like kitchen cabinets. Then bring your personality in with things like unique hardware that is easy to swap out in the event of a sale. The same concept applies to flooring and tile. Opt for the most widely appealing options and personalize with non-permanent items like furnishings.”

Don’t go too far

“If you over-improve your home, you’re really doing yourself a disservice,” Elisa continued. “I would say focus on things that bring you joy or make your life easier. If you love to cook, then upgrading your range is a great thing to do. In this situation, the mistake you want to avoid is going overboard, for example we would never advise you to reconfigure a standard-size kitchen to accommodate a large professional range–it may feel out of place and be difficult to recoup that investment; you want to avoid things like taste-specific decorative built-ins, instead focus on effective closet storage solutions that are going to keep your home tidy and de-cluttered. Those are little added touches that no one’s ever going to object to having.”

What about items like roofs and water heaters?

You need to keep the mindset that such elements are maintenance items that, while important to service and maintain for a home’s comfort, they probably will not add to its value at the time of sale. You might have to spend $40,000 to replace the roof. If you do replace it, though, don’t expect to get $40,000 over market value just because the roof is new.

You might have to spend $40,000 to replace the roof, but don’t expect to get $40,000 over market value just because the roof is new. Click To Tweet

“Think of it as the maintenance items need to be functioning, but don’t necessarily need to be the most high-end,” Elisa said. “It’s great to have a tankless water heater, but if your existing system is functioning properly, you don’t need to go out and upgrade to an expensive recirculation system and the top-of-the-line flash-water heater, because it probably won’t add much to your home’s value when you decide to sell.”

Upgrades to avoid

Like many homeowners, you may be tempted to start improving your property inside and out after you move in. But real estate experts know from experience that many so-called upgrades can actually devalue a home’s property. These include:

Some improvements are worth it

On the flip side, some upgrades will, in most cases, add to a home’s value when it’s time to sell. According to Remodeling, some of these are:

First impressions sell

Deciding what to do with your home takes time and consideration. Don’t jump into big changes just because you can. You want the place to suit your style, but also be appealing to a vast pool of potential buyers later. “It’s a lot like meeting someone for the first time,” Elisa said. “You know first impressions matter, so the easier it is for a buyer to visualize themselves in the home the better, and they key to that is to focus on truly objectively beautiful finishes.”

Ready to sell, but your home isn’t? With our PINNACLE home services program, you can make upgrades to your home with no cost out of pocket, just pay when your home closes escrow.* It’s that simple! Connect with Elisa Bartron Hills or one of our real estate agents near you today to learn more.

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