meredith-martin-san-francisco-real-estate-upgrades

Home Improvements — What to Know Before You Upgrade

HGTV is a guilty pleasure for many of us, but take that home improvement advice with a grain of salt. Those fun-to-watch shows often give the consumer an unrealistic perspective on the real profits achieved when home-flipping, so before you start tacking up the shiplap or ripping out cabinetry, read this. Renovations, upgrades, and makeovers aren’t cheap, and you should understand the likelihood of any return on your investment before you dive in.

Talk to the Experts

You’re dreaming of a gleaming chef’s kitchen with ultra high-end appliances and white cabinetry as far as the eye can see. But according to a 2020 Cost vs Value report prepared by Handley Wood, the ROI for a high-end kitchen renovation is relatively paltry. That upscale kitchen will likely only recoup 54% of its hefty cost in added value — not great. 

The best return on your investment, according to the report? Increase your curb appeal! For condo-dwellers, minor tweaks such as replacing your appliances, updating lighting fixtures and changing out cabinetry pulls can feel like a remodel, without the hefty price tag. And what about a dramatic accent wall, a bold designer color palette, or trendy wood accents? Proceed with caution. It may feel a little blah, but a neutral color palette is the easiest way for potential buyers to see themselves in your space. 

In all of these instances, reeling in an expert is a sound plan. If you’re planning a few renovations to maximize your home’s value in preparation for listing it, an experienced agent can tell you what will be worth the cost and time. Plus, a good realtor has a network of experts — designers and contractors who can help you.

Consider Your Timeline

If the plan is to stay put for the long term, then most home improvements really just need to meet just one criteria — will you love and enjoy it? But if you’re planning to sell in the next few years, your design choices are best made with an eye to that future sale. 

In San Francisco, preparing homes for market often feels like a race. We wrote recently about Compass Concierge, a game-changing program designed to help you prep your home for market. But even with options like that, the best recommendation is to start with an expert’s opinion. I spend my days in and out of San Francisco homes — when it comes to recommendations for the best return on investment, some items are definitely worth the time, money and hassle, but others won’t affect your bottom line much or at all. If you’re buying or selling in the city, ping me. I’d be happy to walk you through the best next steps. 

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