What are home buyers looking for in today’s market? Thanks to the growing influence of HGTV, used-home enthusiasts are on the lookout for exposed shiplap and hidden hardwood floors. Unfortunately, typical houses in more recently developed metropolitan areas don’t usually have these sorts of recoverable treasures. How, then, can you provide character if it’s not waiting to be revealed beneath your carpet? We’ll guide you through 10 do-it-yourself renovations that will increase your home’s value.
Before you start, find out what your home is worth
Begin by investigating what houses in your neighborhood are selling for. Realtors call this “finding comps”. As a guiding principle, you don’t want to have the nicest or most expensive house on your block. This comes as a big surprise to many proud owners but makes sense when you think about it like this: Being the best in the neighborhood would mean you’d be looking to sell for a higher price than any of your neighbors previously have (which isn’t a smart bet).
Look at similar houses with addresses near your own on real estate websites. Keep in mind that prices on sites like Zillow are estimates and asking prices and thus not necessarily indicative of what those houses are currently closing for. Go to open houses whenever possible. Walk your block and talk to people! Remember to keep your research limited to your immediate neighborhood or subdivision and within your school district (homes even a mile away aren’t going to be of much help). Once you get a better feel for neighborhood trends, devise a way to make your home stand out just enough give you the winning edge.
The Opendoor valuations team (our in-house appraisal experts ) and renovations managers suggest the following 10-week game plan for getting your home in top shape with an eye for return on investment—no fresh baked cookie-smell required.
Your 10-week home improvement plan
Week 1: Begin landscaping.
Neatly mow and edge your lawn, trim your shrubs and hedges, and plant seasonal flowers to add a colorful pop of curb appeal . You’ll want to start this early on in your renovation process as it can have decent payoff for a do-it-yourself project but will take some time, maintenance, and likely a few revisions to get it just right.
Week 2: Scrape off your popcorn ceilings.
This one makes for a time-consuming DIY project and kicks up a good amount of mess, but if you have the time and can follow these basic instructions, this project can go a long way towards modernizing your home’s overall feel.
Week 3: Replace your insulation.
When thinking about possible home makeovers, the itchy pink fluff in your attic is unlikely to elicit the same amount of excitement as a Chip and Joanna Gaines-type overhaul. However, this is the one home improvement that will almost always get a positive return on investment. It’s not for the faint of heart, but this is another project that a determined homeowner may be able to tackle on their own.
Week 4: Remove any wallpaper and repaint your interior.
Now that your popcorn ceilings are clear and resurfaced, you’ll need to pick a neutral color or two for your walls. Again, this is a job that an enterprising homeowner can do themselves, but it requires the right tools and attention to detail.
Week 5: Have the kitchen cabinets resurfaced.
The ever-optimistic Bob Vila says you can achieve just about any home improvement yourself, including dying your own carpet! However, the Opendoor renovations team has seen enough poorly refinished kitchen cabinetry to suggest that this is one of the tasks on our list that may be worth outsourcing. If you do decide to attempt this on your own, be sure to do your homework. As with the paint on your walls, it’s important to stay neutral.
Week 6: Update your kitchen with fresh appliances.
Even the most affordable stainless steel appliances are generally a good return on investment as they brighten up a kitchen and create a clean, contemporary feel. Some kitchens may look better with white appliances and your home’s overall design needs to be taken into consideration. When in doubt, consult a design professional.
Week 7: Sand hardwood floors and clean carpets; replace any carpet with large stains or holes.
Again, it’s important to avoid bold choices. Choose flooring with a reasonable price per square foot and opt for finishes you’ve seen in homes that are agreeably selling near yours.
Week 8: Perform minor kitchen and bathroom touch-ups.
Update hardware in your kitchen and bathrooms and replace bathroom mirrors if they’re damaged or dated. New drawer pulls and towel racks can go a long way towards adding a designer edge to the two room types that typically sway most buyers.
Week 9: Paint or replace the front door.
Like the flowers you planted on week one, repainting your door adds a good amount of curb appeal with minimal effort and sets the mood for your home’s facade. Now’s a good time to retouch the new landscaping as well.
Week 10: Deep clean and declutter.
Not only will this sell your house, it’ll also ready you for your upcoming move. If you’ve fallen in love with your handiwork and decide to stay, congratulations. You’re off to a fresh start.
It’s important to note that beautification may not get you a dollar-for-dollar return on your renovation investment, but it can make potential buyers fall in love with your home and increase your chances of getting multiple bids in a hot market.
Home Renovation Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Find resourceful, creative ways to keep your costs down. Update as much as you can on your own and bring in talented friends and neighbors if possible. When in doubt, hire a professional.