• Last modified 2097 days ago (Nov. 20, 2013)


Not all home improvement projects are equal

News editor

Homeowners undertake all sorts of projects expecting to add to the value of their home when it is time to sell, but different projects can have dramatically different returns on investment, according to local real estate agents.

At the most basic level, making sure a house is clean and in good condition will provide excellent returns on the time and money spent, Lori Heerey of Heerey Real Estate in Marion said.

Especially important is getting rid of the smell of cigarette smoke if present, she said. If a homeowner smoked inside, a house becomes difficult to sell except to another smoker.

“I have had people spend hundreds or $2,000 to get rid of that smoke smell,” Heerey said.

However, cleaning the carpets and walls can make a big difference without costing so much, she said.

After cleanliness and condition, some rooms in a house make a bigger difference than others, said Delores Dalke of the Real Estate Center in Hillsboro.

“Kitchens and bathrooms are the things that sell a house,” she said.

Dalke cited cabinets and countertops as things that buyers pay close attention to. Granite countertops are popular with homebuyers.

“Today they want to see all-wooden cabinets,” she said.

There are limits to what buyers are looking for in kitchens and bathrooms, though. Dalke said a homeowner putting in a whirlpool-style bathtub should be doing it because it’s something they want, not because it might add to the home’s selling price.

Hidden maintenance improvements like new plumbing and wiring are good to have, but they are unlikely to recoup their cost with a better selling price, she said.


Garages are important to home buyers, Heerey said, but the biggest difference comes between not having a garage and having even a single-car garage. Multiple-car garages add value, but not as much as the space for the first car, she said.

Many other popular outdoor improvements aren’t worth it unless the homeowner enjoys them and plans to stay for a while.

Heerey said patios and decks never seem to be a deal breaker or a deal maker. When a home is sold, a patio or deck seldom makes much of a difference in the sale price.

Even worse, Dalke said, are swimming pools. A swimming pool can actually be a detriment to selling a home, she said.

“A pool you only do for yourself,” she advised.

Last modified Nov. 20, 2013