Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Home Improvement Appraisals: What You Need to Know

Have you been thinking about adding to or starting a renovation project to up the value of your home? Fantastic idea! The equity in your home can be your most valuable asset. There are a few things you need to know when it comes to increasing the value of your home, especially in the eyes of an appraiser.

Cost Does Not Equal Value

The amount you spend on renovations to your home doesn’t automatically add to the value of your home. Appraisers don’t simply add up the cost of your renovations to determine the new value. The value of a renovation is determined on how much a buyer would be willing to pay for them - so additions that no one wants to pay for will end up costing you money.


Take, for instance, the principle of substitution. This describes the idea that a buyer won’t pay more for a special feature in a home than the cost of renovating a similar property. To break it down, visualize two homes. Let’s say these homes are identical, except one has undergone a bathroom remodel that cost $30,000. Now say the other home could have the same remodel done for $15,000. Buyers would be more inclined to purchase the second home and do the remodel themselves, saving an extra $15,000. Thus, the owner of the first home wouldn’t recoup the full $30,000 for their bathroom renovations, but the $15,000 it would cost to get the same features in another home.

Know the Difference Between Improvements and Bad Investments

Some additions to your home are a good idea, while others could actually take away from the value of your home or drive away potential buyers. Take a look at our list below:

Improvement: Energy conservation
Energy conservation improvements, such as high-efficiency windows, solar water heaters, water-saving toilets, etc, are key to a good appraisal. Many buyers are looking for green homes, and improvements can be large or small scale.

Bad Investment: A Pool
A buyer’s children might get excited at the concept of a pool, but many buyers will look at it as a source of constant upkeep, a potential hazard for their children, and not worth the added work in cooler states (ie: Minnesota).


Improvement: Bathrooms and Kitchens
Experts agree that the best renovations you can make in your home are updates to your kitchen and bathroom. Entryways and front door replacements are a good idea as well, but kitchens, especially, should be on the top of the list for renovation projects.

Bad Investment: Special Interest Projects
Specific interest projects such as turning the spare bedroom into a library or the den into a wine cellar are also bad investments. These rooms are fun to add in relation to your own personal style, but potential new buyers will not want to spend the money remodeling a room to fit their own interests.

Bad Investments: Basements
Homeowners treasure a refinished basement, but many appraisers and buyers do not. When it comes to spending money on the value of your home, don’t put your assets in the basement. Basement renovations recoup a little over half of their cost to the value of the home. In the eyes of an appraiser, an attic project will count for more than the basement.

When you start thinking about additions to your home to up the resale value, think about them through the eyes of an appraiser. Though it may not bring up the value of your home, keep your home tidy and declutter extra furniture and decor items. This will make your home seem more open and easier to appraise. When you do decide on renovation projects, document all your renovations. If you put money into your home, be prepared to prove it. Before and after photos don’t hurt either.

For more tips on renovation projects and home appraisal, check out the Do’s and Don’ts of Home Appraisal from houzz.com.

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