Not all home upgrades are created equal. In fact, some enhancements will likely lose your seller (and you) money. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades have been held up as the Holy Grail of return on home investment for decades. But a major kitchen redo can end up costing the seller an extra $7,000. The key here is to keep costs down, and target projects that actually will increase value. Here are five home upgrades that have the biggest ROI.

1.Paint It, Black

Is a home love at first sight? If the first thing a buyer sees is a dated or unattractive front door, it might not be. But a Zillow report says that homes with doors painted black can sell for up to $6,000 more than others. Dress up the front door with potted plants, a wreath, and a new welcome mat. You can also improve a buyer’s first impression by updating the doorknob and knocker. Change out the porch light fixtures for something new and sleek. This is a relatively inexpensive makeover with a significant return on investment.

2. A Green Yard

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A good-looking lawn means an even better property value. A Texas Tech University study says a manicured lawn can add 10 to 12 percent in value. That means mowing, edging, weeding, and treating any lawn disease that might be leaving patches of dead grass or other unsightly problems. Weeding and mulching the flower beds can also dress up the curb appeal. Think about planting colorful flowers that don’t need a lot of maintenance. Snapdragons, petunias, marigolds, and begonias do well in most climate zones across the United States.

3. New Garage Door

A new garage door is one of those home upgrades that really does have a significant return on investment. In fact, it makes such a big impact on a sale that your sellers might wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. A new garage door averages nearly a 100% ROI. Not only does it improve the look of the house, but it can also boost the home’s security and energy efficiency.

4. Make Room Outdoors

A built-in pool may look appealing, but it’s actually a poor return on the investment. Some can cost more than $20,000 to install while only adding a few thousand to the asking price. Creating an outdoor kitchen can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000 and on up. But it’s one of those trendy home upgrades that appeals to American homebuyers. No longer are buyers satisfied with a barbecue grill on the patio. Think about adding a mini fridge, a smoker, or even a pizza oven. You can buy a prefabricated outdoor kitchen and install it, or have one custom designed. Either way, it shows potential buyers that there’s room for living both inside and outside the house.

5. Beige is Where the Money is

Whether it’s your grandma’s old wallpaper or the neighbor’s bright purple living room, we’ve all been in a house with ugly walls. Paint color really makes a difference. Light taupe living rooms increase the selling price, on average, by more than $2,700. Neutral colors are more appealing to buyers, and deep or vivid colors like red, brown, and yellow can actually decrease the home’s values. Replacing old or dated outlet and light switch plates is another inexpensive detail that complements the new paint. This will also pay off on the closing day.

Every seller wants some kind of edge in the real estate marketplace. Some makeovers boost curb appeal and draw potential buyers in to look, others will convince a decision-maker to offer more money. The right home upgrade can give your seller the maximum return on investment, and a little more money in their pocket for their new home.

WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SPQ IN CALIFORNIA?

The Seller Property Questionnaire, or SPQ, is a California disclosure that is required to be filled out by the seller to make the buyer of any material or potential issues with the property being sold.

Sellers of residential real estate (up to four units) are required, by California law, to share any material facts related to the property and its use, that might influence the buyer’s decision to buy the property. These disclosures of material facts help the buyer make an informed decision and cover many different aspects of the house and its surroundings that can impact the desirability of the property.

Information in the TDS is Limited

The SPQ is usually filled out in tandem with the TDS. The Transfer Disclosure Statement, or TDS, is a document filled out by the seller to highlight what they know about the condition of the property they are selling. It asks specifically for any defects and issues with the property that they can identify. They respond with either a yes or a no.

A yes means that the seller knows of the issues or defects. If they are unaware of the defect, they select a no.

The various sections of the TDS require any additional disclosures to be listed, such as pest reports or insurance claims.

Details of household items such as smoke, carbon monoxide, and burglar alarms; HVAC equipment such as air conditioners and heaters (with proper mounting brackets); water tanks, stoves, and other information is also asked from the seller in the different sections of the TDS.

Additional Information is a Requirement for a Realistic and Informed Decision

The TDS in and of itself is not enough to know the actual condition of the residential property and is considered to be very minimal. The California Association of Realtors came up with the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ) to make up for the lack of information that buyers need for an informed decision.

Since November of 2014, the SPQ has been made a contractual requirement on the seller by the RPA-CA (the California Residential Purchase Agreement), unless there is an exemption from the TDS for the seller.

The information in the SPQ attempts to fill in the areas where information is less detailed in the TDS. Collectively the TDS and SPQ attempt to paint a clear picture of the property for the buyer and to safeguard the seller against future litigation for failing to disclose issues. This safe proofing against litigation is the greatest reason for both buyers and sellers to use the TDS and SPQ.

The seller and the buyer both benefit from the approximately 50 questions in the SPQ. The buyer gains an informed decision, and the seller gains because it becomes hard for the buyer to claim that material facts about the property were withheld.

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