If you were considering selling your home this year and hit pause on your plans, this spring is an ideal time to undertake upgrades. Enjoy a new deck, a refreshed landscape or a de-cluttered home this summer and then gather a return when you eventually sell.

Yes, de-cluttering could produce an ROI.

“The way your home is staged is even more important now,” said Sophia Rosendo, associate broker with Portside Real Estate Group. Public health considerations have canceled open houses and private showings now come with more restrictions.

Rosendo said that in current conditions, buyers are relying more on photos and videos of the property to make decisions, sometimes even buying homes sight unseen. “Curb appeal” should now exude from every photo
in an online listing.

So where to start? Knowing which projects can offer the most bang for their remodeling buck can help homeowners direct their focus if the end goal is a great-looking home with added value that they can still enjoy while living in it. Rosendo had a project idea for people lacking both DIY skills and a big renovation budget.

“Anything you can do to declutter and depersonalize, get it done,” she recommended. “Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves living there. That’s hard to do with a lot of stuff in the way.”

Depersonalization may also mean losing some of your favorite bold paint colors. Rosendo recommended neutral palates—too much white gets institutional. Another cost effective and simple project is a lighting fixture upgrade.

“Light fixtures can really date a home,” said Rosendo. “A simple swap out for something modern makes a big difference.” She recommended taking a second look at your indoor and outdoor fixtures, and maybe add lighting to enhance an outdoor living space.

“The best thing anyone can do is walk outside, pretend they are buying the house and then walk back in,” said Tom Ranello, realtor with RE/MAX Shoreline. “Write down what you like and don’t like about your house, then assess what needs to change.”

Consider where we almost always start: the front door. Paint is a go-to change to make, but it is what’s underneath that can recoup more value. Replacing an existing door with a 20-gauge steel door, jambs and an aluminum threshold with composite stop adds security and insulation. Remodeling magazine’s 2019 “Cost vs. Value Report” compared the average cost of 22 remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale across 136 markets and determined a high-end door could get homeowners 75 percent of their initial investment back at resale.

“Anything you can do to improve patios, outdoor space, screened in space, will entice a buyer who enjoys the outdoors,” said Ranello. According to Remodeling, adding a wood deck to the side or back of a home could recoup 75.6 percent of the cost of the initial investment—and give the investor incalculable levels of sunshine-induced relaxation this summer.

According to garden store sales this spring, creating new landscapes or building vegetable garden is a popular project this season that increases “curb appeal” in photos and for buyers who might be driving by properties. With so much DIY potential in this area, investing time in yardwork will add beauty to your space, create a desirable feature for buyers and possibly build some new skills for the gardener.

On the pricier side of things, replacing siding is one of the bigger home improvement projects to take on (at a rough cost of $16,000) but it offers a 75 percent return, a home that is more efficiently protected from the elements and a much prettier picture for the listing. A free-to-cheap cosmetic upgrade could be to power-wash an updated roof that’s gathered some moss.
Lastly, consider whether your budget is best spent on the things that were once only seen during an in-person showing, but are increasingly appearing in close-up detail in online galleries.

“Updating heating systems or servicing a furnace are key in Maine. That’s always money well spent,” said Ranello.

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