"Your column this morning resonated with me," a colleague said. "My daughter gave me her lovely Restoration Hardware sofa, which then made everything else in the room look old and worn . . . so now I've had to update the den, paint the walls, and buy a new rug." (You're preaching to the choir.)
Hey, I'm just glad to know I'm not alone. (Turns out, there are lots of us home-centric addicts in need of a 12-step program.)
Point in fact, my friend, "A" is currently renovating her kitchen for a SECOND time in ten years, replacing all of her appliances along with the lighting, windows, cabinetry, counters, and backsplash. But she didn't stop there; her dream kitchen required an expansion of her house out to the rear yard, but it was well worth it. In short, A's new kitchen is drop-dead GORGEOUS, and while, it's probably not her last remodel, this stylish addition is certain to age gracefully for many years to come.
"A" (also a Realtor®), knows what every good Realtor® knows: keeping your home current is a shrewd investment - within reason. Jet tubs aren't going to pay you more than a less-expensive, stand-alone tub come time to sell, nor are steam showers. However, if you LOVE steam, and you have to have it, AND IF you'll actually use it, then by all means, do whatever you like (it's your money), with the understanding that all improvements are NOT created equal, nor will they all pay you back in equal measure.
Interestingly, the topic of home renovations has spurned a fair number of questions about what improvements actually ARE worth the dollars spent on them - and what are not. Apart from my own anecdotal opinion (based on years of manning Open Houses and renovating homes), updated kitchens and bathrooms absolutely SELL houses - often with SURPRISING results! (Conversely, outdated kitchens and bathrooms can torpedo a sale just as quickly.) Still, because you're unlikely to move forward based on my observations alone, I did a little research to see if my experience lines up with market reality. (It does.)
According to Fortune Builders online, the 10 best ROI (return on investment) projects are the following:
Of course, last week I read an article that declared hardwood floors returned 118% of their investment, putting this improvement well ahead of anything else on the Fortune Builder's list; suggesting that results depend on what prism you choose to look through.
Whatever your microscope, I think we can all agree that home renovations, by and large, are worthwhile investments. Plus, they have the added bonus of making our homes so much more enjoyable to live in while we actually reside in them . . . .
But as landscaping landed second on the list of most profitable investments, (and as an aside, new landscape is often reasonably affordable) AND as spring is just around the corner, AND as curb appeal is hugely underrated by most homeowners, this week I'm going to encourage you to roll up your sleeves and head out to the yard.
Or as my mother would have said: "grab a shovel, and get to work!" (Everyone in my family contributed, no matter their age.) If it's beyond you (as it is for my husband) there is no end to talented gardeners who are only too happy to help. But whatever you do, don't ignore this important, and too often overlooked component of your property. Remember, potential Buyers are looking at both the house and the yard as a package deal, and more importantly, your future Buyers will make up their minds within mere seconds of pulling up to the curb.
I use Valentine's Day as my drop-dead date for cutting back the roses and pruning the remaining plants (after the threat of frost has passed). I've also planted new ground cover and have added some foxglove to the beds for a bit of color and drama as well. Happily, digitalis reseeds itself, so next year, these showy flowers should sprout on their own. However, it's the work I've put in during the last five years of tending this particular garden that comes into full display as the spring unfolds. To toot my own horn; it's one stunning show after another.
As the saying goes: you reap what you sow.
BTW, this sentiment isn't just true of gardens, or houses, but for friendships, children, marriages, careers, and all good things in life. In short, tend to your garden (and it will tend to you).
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 725 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.