3 DIY Updates to Increase Your Home's Value

A kitchen under construction

Post from MilitaryByOwner

Military homeowners regularly contend with challenges, such as an unexpected permanent change of station move, that extend beyond the normal range of homeownership issues. This selling season is no different, thanks to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, military home sellers will not only have to assess the most practical tried and true returns on investment (or ROI, such as a kitchen makeover) to increase their home value, they'll have to address the desires of homebuyers who are searching for features that were painfully lacking during the pandemic.

Updates and upgrades that have traditionally driven a worthwhile ROI now need to be paired with both comfort and practical factors that buyers found they needed during the months of staying at home in 2020.

Although luck is on the homeowner's side as a seller's market continues to dominate, preparing your home to sell for the best price includes evaluating how to increase its value while on a do-it-yourself, or DIY, budget.

1. Invest in your kitchen.

Pre-coronavirus, updated kitchens were in demand and remain so as the virus continues. The pandemic has solidified the kitchen as the heart of the home and added the need for multi-tasking elements, such as a corner for online school or Zoom calls. A large table to accommodate dining, working and playing is also in high demand, if space allows.

A kitchen remodel can be expensive, but Remodeling Magazine's 2020 Cost vs. Value report emphasizes the practicality and ROI of a minor to mid-range kitchen remodel. To attract the largest pool of buyers, a complete renovation isn't necessary because homebuyers will likely want to add personal customizations post-sale.

In 2020, this size renovation averaged about $23,400. It's reasonable to expect about $18,200 of the resale value in return (close to 78% of the initial investment) if you decide to sell. As for a seller's bottom line, DIY work fits nicely into the cost savings structure.

The best projects to start with include:

  • Reface or replace cabinets. A two-color cabinet design remains popular. Choose coordinating colors such as navy and white for upper and lower cabinets. If you choose new cabinets, invest in built-in organization, or add storage features.
  • Upgrade countertops. No need for expensive marble patterns. Alternative natural stones such as quartz look expensive and hold up well.
  • Update fixtures. Hands-off and voice-activated faucets continue to trend and certainly have found their place with homeowners trying to keep up with disinfection. Don't forget to check your lighting fixtures in the kitchen; they may make the space look outdated.

2. Expand outdoor living space.

There's a reason that building supplies and appointments with contractors and outdoor design professionals have been hard to come by for months. Many homeowners are considering a variety of ideas to improve their backyards and outdoor spaces.

Fortunately, this project is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of DIY skills and budgets. Small, colorful decor items such as rugs, tables and plants evoke a hospitable vibe. Large-scale additions of decking or porch enclosures provide the extra square footage a family needs during the extended time spent together.

A new deck may add to the property's assessed value because it is considered additional living space. The average price for a new wood deck is near $15,000 and typically recovers about 72%, or approximately $10,400 at the time of sale. Composite decking is more expensive, but is maintenance-free and preferred by buyers. It's also an excellent investment if you choose to become a military landlord and return to the property at a later time.

Miscellaneous items also improve outdoor living. If your skills include the ability to add French or accordion-style doors that open to the deck or patio, you'll be meeting a coveted indoor/outdoor living trend. Buyers gravitate to the idea of a wall of windows to expand sight lines and improve the feeling of expansiveness. Outdoor heaters, smart lighting and audio systems also elevate the comfort of the space.

3. Create space for a home office and/or home gym.

Rooms with doors have been sorely missed during the pandemic. The constant company of family leaves little time for privacy and less opportunity for quiet. Homebuyers coming off months of togetherness are merely looking for more dedicated space to get away from the busyness of everyday life.

Work-from-home trends are viable alternatives for the foreseeable future, and previous gym goers continue to be uneasy about stepping back into community workout spaces. To maximize buyer demands and ROI, owners will need to tackle home office and gym transformations with easy and affordable updates, such as:

  • Durable, high-quality laminate flooring. This flooring type accommodates either an office (add a room-size rug to cozy up the space) or a home gym after rubber flooring or mats have been added.
  • Refresh paint colors. Depending on the ultimate use, the room will be enhanced substantially by the perfect shade of paint. Deep, moody colors are trending for 2021 and are perfect for an office, while one of Pantone's colors of the year -- "Illuminating," a bright yellow -- is invigorating for a workout room.

Most military homeowners should have little problem selling a well-priced home with the preferred upgrades buyers are searching for this year. For the quickest sale, add carefully planned DIY projects that add value through reliable updates and combine them with the features buyers prefer to have after living through pandemic conditions.

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