As a Realtor, I get asked all the time "what room(s) should I remodel before listing my Encinitas home for top dollar?" Most people say they've heard you get the most bang for your buck out of a full kitchen remodel. I don't disagree and before I move on to what I think would be a better plan, let me make a few points about a kitchen remodel. Make sure what you do is relevant to the price of your home. If your home is worth $200,000, don't go out and by a $10,000 range top. If your home is going to sale in the high 100's or more, go ahead and buy the top of the line appliances. Another thing I see all the time that really hurts an older kitchen is the cabinets. I know they are expensive but if you feel your kitchen needs a remodel, at least refinish the cabinets. It's the first thing women notice in a kitchen, regardless of everything else you do.
Moving on, if you have an older home, I do not feel focusing on one room is the answer. If you want to get top dollar, doing the items listed below will cost about what a top of the line kitchen remodel would cost and I feel get you much more bang for the buck-
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1. New front door. First impressions are huge and there is nothing better than a nice new front door. According to Realtor Magazine - 2013-14 Cost vs value remodeling projects article, a new door recovers 96.6% of it's cost.
2. Paint - Now that the potential buyer is impressed by the door they just walked through, make sure the rest of the home is spotless. If you haven't painted in the last 7-10 years, this would be a good time. Can't afford to do the entire inside? Paint everything except the bedrooms and if that's still too much, leave out the bathrooms.
3. Floors - If you have old, worn wood floors, strip them and refinish instead of tearing out and replacing. It will save you money and refinished wood floors give a good impression. If you have the time to do yourself, Google or YouTube DIY (Do it yourself) refinishing floors. If your carpet is dirty and you can't afford to replace, have it professionally cleaned by a Chem-Dry specialist. I have found their products to not only do a great job cleaning but also no strange odor.
4. Windows - New vinyl double windows and doors - this really makes your home stand out but is also very pricey. If you don't want to spend the money on the entire house, don't bother with bedroom and bathroom windows. If you do have the old single pane windows, be sure you clean the frames and that the windows are spotless. You don't want to try to hide them by keeping the curtains or shutters closed. A dark house is a dreary house, not good.
5. Kitchen - Granite tops are ideal. They really make the area pop. If you still have fluorescent lighting, it needs to go. You can replace it for much less than you think and giving it a modern or contemporary look is a huge plus. You should at least give your old kitchen cabinets a good cleaning, inside and out. Again you can Google DIY kitchen cabinet refinishing and find really cheap ways to get your old cabinets looking close to new if you can make the time.If you are going to buy new appliances, black, stainless steel are best.
6. Bathrooms -You should at least put Granite in the bathrooms, which can be done for a reasonable price. Also upgrade the lighting in the bathrooms, another project done pretty cheaply. Make sure the rest of the bathroom is spotless, especially the floor, tile in the shower and shower doors.
This may look like a lot of work and big $$$ but it's really not. Plan ahead, give yourself 4-6 weeks to complete whatever projects you can. Make sure your home is clutter free, a messy house never sales for top dollar. Need some landscaping ideas? Here's an article I wrote. If you're not sure where to hire a professional to do these jobs, go into your local Ace Hardware, Home Depot or Lowe's and ask for contractors business cards, local contractor's usually leave a card or they may know a few personally.