When people find out I’m a realtor, they usually ask me a handful of friendly questions I find interesting. If they’re neighbors, they typically ask about new construction in the area and if I know the builder or what type of a house it will be. Neighbors always are understandably curious about recent home sales and how much money the homes went for. Sometimes they ask me if I knew why certain homes seemed to be on the market for an extended period of time. Many people are real estate enthusiasts and want to compare research they’ve done on Zillow to what actually exists and transpires in the marketplace. In a smallish community like either Cheviot Hills or Beverlywood, where there are a very small handful of local real estate experts, many people will ask if the realtors all get along or if there’s dramatic in fighting among us. (My lips are sealed on that front, by the way)!

The number one question I get, though, outside of the confines of what’s specific to one neighborhood or another is this: what should I do to improve my home’s value? It’s not an easy question to answer thoughtfully because a lot depends on the home itself, however, the quickest response is: bathrooms and kitchen. These are the showiest rooms of a home and are the most obvious examples of where money has been spent. Now, that only becomes the case when the infrastructure of a home has been handled first. In other words, a beautiful kitchen doesn’t matter too much if the roof is caving in. Fixing the inner network of a home has to be handled before anything else should be attempted, especially if money is an issue (and when is money not an issue?!).

The other caveat to the bathrooms/kitchen question is: don’t remodel a bathroom if you only have one bathroom. The money is better spent building a second one before prettying up the one that already exists. Similarly, if your home’s value is such that it will likely be sold as a tear-down anyway, it’s not worth your money to build yourself a new gorgeous kitchen that is just going to be destroyed when the new owner takes ownership. You should just be aware of your home’s ultimate worth before making a major decision when it comes to serious renovations. Oftentimes owners don’t have strong clarity when it comes to their own home and that’s when a realtor can come in and assess your property’s value without emotion playing a role in the decision.

So, when I get asked what a property owner should do to improve his home, the real answer is: whatever it is that makes him/her happy. If you have no immediate plans to sell your home, then go ahead and make the improvements you want that will actually improve your daily existence while living there. Sure, resale should be a factor in your long-term decision, but for immediate gratification, you should do whatever it is that makes you happy, not some phantom buyer who isn’t part of the equation. You want to paint all the walls purple and replace your granite countertops with Formica? More power to you! Just fix the leaks in the roof and clean out the sewer line first.