These Seven Rooms Will Add the Most Value to Your Home

Whether you're planning a home renovation with the goal of selling for a higher price, or you simply want to remodel for style and function, you never want to spend cash that won't add value. Knowing where to put your money so that you'll be able to realize a return on the investment is sometimes difficult. Recent statistics and information from real estate professionals, however, offer valuable guidelines. You may have heard that it's a good idea to update your kitchen and bathrooms, but there are some cautions. If you want to get the most bang for the buck, pay attention to these guidelines, and remember that the finished rooms should be in keeping with the total feeling of the home, rather than shouting "Look at me," when they're finished.

What rooms should you tackle first? Here are some ideas to help you narrow your options and add substantial value to your home:

1. Kitchen Updates

Kitchen Improvements will consistently return 60 to 120% of the cost, according to the annual cost vs. value report published by Remodeling Magazine. However, there is a caveat: The higher the cost of the renovation, in general, the lower the percentage of return will be. Buyers want to see new Energy-star appliances, water-saving faucets and efficient lighting in a remodeled kitchen. Plenty of storage and countertop space, lots of light, room for more than one cook and a snack counter or kitchen table are popular features. Sustainability, function and easy-care materials, however, are more important than trendy finishes and high style. Keep the redo modest and you can expect to get every penny back when you sell the home.

2. Master Bath

Again, buyers are swayed more by function than by trends in the master bathroom. Convenience and space are all important; expect to recoup 100% or more of your costs for a well-planned master bath remodel that includes dual vanities, a separate tub and shower, plenty of storage, and a soothing atmosphere. Forego the fancy finishes in favor of well-planned space. Soaking tubs are more popular today than jetted tubs; multiple shower sprays and ample grooming light as well as overall illumination, with natural light if possible, are favored features. Expect a great master redo bath to add substantial value.

3. Additional Bathroom

If your home is short on bathrooms, carving a small bath out of an unused closet or finding space for a trendy power room can boost appraised value by at least 50% of the cost. But, in most cases, an additional whole or half bath will help a home sell more quickly, and that is of value by itself. In an older home with a single large bathroom, compartmentalizing the space can add great appeal, and allow two people to use the space at the same time, great for siblings. It may be possible to grab some space from an adjacent bedroom or a hallway closet to add a separate shower, or to reconfigure a bath into a "Jack and Jill" arrangement with two vanities. Your home's appraised value will invariably go up when you give it that additional bathroom space.

4. Make an Attic Bedroom

Look up. Whether your home is a sprawling ranch or a two-story traditional, the attic can be just the space for an extra bedroom, guest quarters, a crafts room or a home office. The possibility of a view makes attic space especially nice, and privacy is assured. No matter how you anticipate using the space, buyers will view it as flex space, and are apt to be willing to pay a bonus for it. "Reinventing" space in this way is typically more economical than adding a room; and the additional square footage is always reflected in appraised value. On average, an attic bedroom will return about 84% of its cost.

5. Finish the Basement

Finishing out all or part of an unfinished basement will add usable square footage to your home. According to the professionals, you can expect your home's value to be increased by about 30% for every additional 1,000 square feet of space. Only you can figure the value, but a basement family room, media room, playroom or office might be just the ticket to selling your home faster and for a higher price. Be sure to consider code requirements when planning a basement remodel, however; including the need for windows and ventilation if you plan to use any part of it as a bedroom. Statistics suggest that you might expect to realize more than 77% of the cost in added value.

6. Add an "Outside Room"

While enclosing a patio to create a sunroom is not on the recommended list for home renovation, adding a deck or an outdoor fireplace, even a simple "outdoor kitchen" is a way to create extra living space that homeowners will pay for. Outdoor rooms are especially attractive to buyers in areas that have pleasant spring and fall seasons. Done right, an appealing outdoor sitting room, with or without dining space, can return between 80 and 90% of investment, even if you figure in the cost of attractive landscaping features to enhance the appeal.

7. Living Room

Buyers today want open floor plans and adaptable spaces, as much as possible. So, if your home is currently a maze of hallways, doorways and rooms dedicated to single functions, you might consider knocking down a wall or two, or perhaps creating larger openings to enhance the view lines between rooms. Many times, the job is less costly and less disruptive than you might imagine, and the added appeal will more than pay for itself in terms of added value.

There are many options available for maximizing appeal and increasing the value of a home. When planning to remodel for resale, however, it is wise to study other homes in your neighborhood and in your price range. Plan any renovations with broad appeal and with the competition in mind, and never be tempted to overbuild for the locale.

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