Whether you’re staying for the foreseeable future or selling in five years, home upgrades can make your home more livable and hike up property value. Everybody in the property market knows better bathrooms and updated kitchens. However, these upgrades might have flown under the radar:
Curb appeal still has value, and landscaped lawns can bring in big money. While a neat yard has its charm, landscaping can add depth to a property. Well-placed plants are a visual treat, and edging the lawn makes it feel more classy. Level changes can make the yard appear more expansive than it is. Rock retaining wall installations give a property a more natural feel while adding depth to the surroundings. Of course, landscaping might be out of place in big urban centers, but they are perfect for the suburbs. If you’re not selling, grow a few vegetables instead of ornamental plants. A landscaped yard will motivate you to go gardening outside, and you’ll get fresh vegetables for the table. Landscaping can add 5 to 15 percent to your home’s property value or around 100 to 200 percent of what you put in your yard.
An Outdoor Kitchen
Forget regal bathrooms. Buyers are now looking for outdoor kitchens before making their purchases. Outdoor kitchens have been growing in popularity in the past five years. They make a home feel more prominent, and they make it easier to entertain guests. Building an outdoor kitchen will cost around $10,000. You can cut down the price by doing most of the work, but you’ll still need to buy countertops, an oven, and an outdoor refrigerator. At the minimum, you’ll still spend at least $3,000. However, going small doesn’t have significant returns. Wealthy buyers are looking for more than just barbecue grills. They’re looking for kitchen patios with proper decking, stone countertops, functioning sinks, proper appliances, and maybe a mobile bar or two.
If you plan on selling in five to ten years, spend money on your outdoor kitchen. Study the latest designs or get a designer to plan your kitchen. Well-planned kitchens can raise property value by double what you put in them, making them a viable investment. Just make sure to list your home in summer or spring to maximize the impact of your outdoor kitchen. If you’re not selling, an extra kitchen is still an excellent addition to your house. It frees up space in the home and allows you to prepare dishes away from the kids. It also makes gatherings and parties a lot easier to set up.
Saving the Earth might not be enough to motivate you to go solar, but thousands of dollars in savings might do the trick. Solar power systems are practically free if you buy them using a ten-year loan. American homes use less than 900 kWh of electricity a month. An 8-kW system produces 1000 kWh of electricity with just five hours of clear skies. Buying an 8-kW system will cost around $7,500 after federal tax incentives. A ten-year loan on your panels will have monthly premiums of $70–$75. You can use the savings on your electric bill to pay for the premiums, and some states will even write you a check for excess production.
Expect your system to last for 45 years or more. Once you finish paying for your panels, you’ll still save $80–$150 a month on your electric bills for the next 35 plus years—for total savings of $30,000–$60,000. Solar panels can add 5 to 15 percent to your home’s property value if you still plan to sell. Homes in New Jersey have gotten upticks worth $30,000 or more just because of solar power.
A Proper Garage
While often overlooked, proper garages can be excellent dealmakers. Of course, you’ll need to go above the usual clean, neat, and functional garage. Opt for upgrades that make your garage stand out. Build a lavish bedroom on top of it, add concealed cabinets that hold whatever—as they do in spy movies—or add a car lift or two.
Adding an upstairs bedroom can cost upwards of $20,000. More if you want to add a bathroom. Concealed cabinets can cost $3,000-$10,000. They’re also very niche, and you won’t always be getting secret agents as buyers. Car lifts might seem expensive, but you can get one installed for around $2,000. Borrow a few cars for showcase, and you can add 150 to 250 percent of the renovation costs to your property value.
Upgrades can make a home more inviting, convenient, and livable. The same upgrades also add value to your home, just in case you need to sell. Home upgrades can count as investments, especially if they add more value than the money you put in.