4 Small Tweaks That Offer Big Returns on Your Real Estate Investment

Posted by Elizabeth Millard on December 22, 2015

Revamping a property often involves large-scale remodeling, but paying attention to the smaller details can also have a big effect.

While it’s true that you’ll need to make sure the electrical and plumbing are up to code, potential buyers are most likely to see all the finishing touches first—and when they’re dazzling, that’s when the bidding wars begin. Here are four budget-friendly tweaks to consider:

1 – Paint colors

After extensive work on framing and sheetrock installation, it might seem like paint color is a minor concern, and you can just throw a neutral color up and call it done. Not so fast, says Katy Linden, a renovation expert working throughout the upper Midwest.

“Paint color is absolutely huge, it can make or break a sale,” she says. “We’ve gone through and re-painted an entire home before, just a week after its initial paint job, because we didn’t like the feel of it. And I’m convinced that’s what sold the house.” Bright, brassy colors are often inappropriate, but Linden suggests that rich, warm colors that are complementary to each other will make a big difference.

2 – Lighting

The level of light in a room matters, probably more than many people might think, Linden believes. Staging with extra lamps can be helpful, but it’s far better to incorporate more light into a renovation, either through additional windows or with built-in lights or chandeliers. “Lighting sets the mood of a room,” Linden says. “And buyers put in a bid based on the feeling and mood they have when they walk through.”

Beware of too much light in more intimate spaces, though. Glaring lights at a bathroom vanity, or an over-bright bedroom, can make those areas seem too harsh instead of inviting.

3 – Switchplates and Cabinet Handles

To attract buyers, you don’t have to get quirky with the details—and in fact, being too “out there” can be detrimental—but putting in nicer touches that hew to the era of the property can carry a big impact. For example, consider putting in bronze-color switchplates in a home that has a more historical feel, or brushed silver switchplates in a more modern, urban condo. Similarly, cabinet handles in kitchens and bathrooms should pick up the vibe you’re trying to create.

4 – Appliances

With so many other renovation items in the budget, it’s easy to consider skimping on appliance quality. But going up a level or two—which may add only a few hundred dollars—could result in a more valued property. “We see this all the time, that someone has put time and money into a renovation, but they installed cheap appliances,” says Linden. “That makes buyers wonder where else they cut corners, and that’s not what you want people to think.” By having quality appliances, she adds, potential buyers will likely believe that the entire renovation process was done with higher-grade materials.

No matter what tweaks you decide to incorporate, just remember that small changes can have a major impact when it comes to buyer perception. Make the time, effort, and investment to care about the details, and you’ll likely see a much bigger return.

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