At Home on the Hill: Should You Renovate Your Kitchen Before You Sell?

by March 10, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

At Home On The Hill

This sponsored column is written by Ty Voyles, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and principal of Fulcrum Properties Group, a team of real estate agents located on Capitol Hill that serves Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Washingtonians may still be pulling on warm jackets in the mornings, but I know that many of those hooded heads are firmly trained on spring. To be more precise, they’re focused on readying their homes for the annual height of the real estate market, and the question that pops up in my conversations with sellers again and again is, “Before we list our home, should we complete a dramatic kitchen renovation to increase our sales price?”

This query is usually followed by a blushing admission that the client has been watching a lot of HGTV lately. After a quick home visit, my advice is almost always the same: watch as much HGTV as you (and your significant other) would like, but pocket those grand renovation ideas for your next house.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is financial, which is usually the primary concern for a home seller looking to engage in a renovation they will not get to enjoy for very long. For example, research shows that you probably won’t get your money back on the expense of a full kitchen renovation when you sell.  The National Association of Realtors says that your return will less than 80 percent of what you spend, on average.

The second reason is related to the first: most sellers are not professional designers, and therefore may not choose finishes that will translate to the fickle tastes of the general public. It’s human nature to design your home in a style that suits your tastes — even if you intellectually understand that this space will not be yours for very much longer.

The professionals who are really adept at flipping or staging homes have learned with experience to create spaces that are attractive but impersonal, so they appeal to the broadest possible swath of homebuyers. It’s very difficult for a non-pro to achieve a similar “general public” aesthetic because he or she is emotionally invested in the house. I’ve come across a number of sellers who complete what they believe to be a renovation that will create broad appeal, but the final product is really a reflection of their own tastes, not those of the average buyer.

The third reason to lay off the major renovations on a house you’re about to sell is that construction actually isn’t very fun to live through. It looks like a blast on HGTV because all aspects of the process have been edited, polished, trimmed and coifed by professionals. In reality, the loss of privacy, inconvenience, dust and noise of a renovation, combined with the general stress that comes with packing up your family’s belongings and actually moving, just is not worth it most of the time.

So go ahead, paint your front door for a pop of color, or add a border of pansies out front to give your listing extra curb appeal. But schedule a visit with a licensed realtor before you start rolling up your sleeves for demo.  Chances are, you should keep getting your renovation fix from HGTV until you find your next dream home.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hill Now.


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