So where should you start if you feel like your Arlington townhome needs an update?
First you will find a list of upgrades that are listed at the Cost vs. Value report and then you will find some tips and tricks that I use in my everyday real estate practice and my own home.
Here are the upgrades that are recommended by Cost vs. Value report for Washington DC Metro Area (Cost vs. Value Website ):
- Entry door replacement (steel) Cost Recouped 117.4%’
- Deck Addition (wood) Cost Recouped 84.2%
- Garage Door Replacement. Cost Recouped 84.2%
- Siding Replacement (vinyl) Cost Recouped 80.5%
- Window Replacement (vinyl) 79.2%
- Minor Kitchen Remodel 77.5%
- Roofing Replacement 74.5%
- Major Kitchen Remodel 73.
- Deck Addition (composite) 73%
- Window Replacement (wood) 73.9
- Basement Remodel 72.7%
- Master Suite Addition 70.7%
- Bathroom Remodel 70.2%
Some items were left out – like a family room addition or a master suite addition – these projects are not possible in Arlington townhomes.
The most important things that you should take from this:
1) Kitchen remodel comes before bathrooms.
2) You should not expect 100% of your money back.
Current buyers have certain expectations – after getting bachelor’s degrees in home decorating on HGTV (I’m just kidding here, but all buyers are watching HGTV) – they expect the look of Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel or West Elm. So where should you start? The following suggestions are based on my personal experience only – from remodeling my own home and working with a stager redecorating many clients’ homes:
1) I think paint is the most important and you will get 100% of you money back. Do not paint your walls white – as it feels sterile and cold. Look at Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Pottery Barn catalogs to pick a color. Restoration Hardware has a paint line that has very few, but great paint colors. They can always be matched at a less expensive paint store. If you have any old wallpaper, borders – all of it needs to come down as it makes the space feel dated. Here is some good info: Pottery Barn Advice on Paint
2) Change light fixtures. Light fixtures are like jewelry – they can really jazz up the entire look. You can easily replace a tired looking ceiling lamp with a new one from Home Depot for $20-30. For chandeliers – think more modern, but classy. Like this one:
3) Replace door hinges and handles. If your handles are 15-20 years old (unless they are antique) they should be replaced. I would not use brass (the yellow metal from the 80’s and 90’s) even if it’s new – brass looks dated. Replace them with chrome or brushed nickel.
4) Install new blinds. Home Depot has quite inexpensive line of faux wood blinds that can be cut to fit the size of your window. If you have older windows – this is almost a must.
5) Kitchens are so different, but there are a few things you could try before replacing everything:
- Can you paint the cabinets?
- Can you replace the hardware on the cabinets?
- Can you replace the sink faucet?
- Usually you cannot go wrong with granite countertops ($$$)
- New appliances make even a tired kitchen look refreshed. Don’t get the lowest grade ones though.
- If you decide to do a completed remodel – can you open the kitchen to the family room? 90% of buyers are looking for open floorplan.
6) Bathrooms are also very different, but there are a few quick ways to give them a fresh look:
- Change faucets and a drains (especially if they are brass).
- Change a showerhead.
- Change a shower rod. Current buyers like the rounded ones that allow for more space.
- Paint the cabinet and install new knobs.
- If the tile is neutral – you might just want to replace the vanity. There are so many available very inexpensively at Home Depot, Lowe’s or online.
7) Flooring. I personally love hardwood floors in the living/family room, also hallways. Don’t spend an arm and a leg though on some exotic wood – unless you plan to enjoy it yourself for many years. People usually prefer carpet in the bedrooms. You can always dress up the floor with a sisal rug – they have become extremely popular. My husband hates them, because they are not soft on the feet, but they look crisp, sharp and modern.
8) Art. The biggest mistake people make with art is hanging it too high. Way too high. You should be able to look at your artwork straight – and not have to look up. Here are some tips for hanging art.
I have a good handyman who charges $30 per hour and who can help you replace some of the things on the list. If you are interested – I would be happy to share his contact information. I also have a stager who can help you make a list of all the things that should be on your list. She charges $100 per hour. Her time is really worth it. Her services are included if you decide to use my real estate services.
This was a long post. There is so much more to write, but it’s a blog post, not a book :) If you have any questions, comments, concerns –I’m here – just let me know!