Minor exterior upgrades that can help sell a home

Updated features add curb appeal and provide a strong return on homeowners’ investment at resale.

The home improvement industry has been booming for years, but forecasters are projecting a deceleration in 2023 and perhaps beyond. Estimates from the Home Improvement Research Institute, which is the leading market research resource for the home and building products industry, indicate that growth in the home improvement products market is expected to decelerate from 7.2% in 2022 to 1.5% in 2023. Inflation continues to affect consumer spending, and homeowners may be looking to spend less on renovations in the year ahead.

Minor upgrades that aren’t as costly as larger projects can still make a big difference, especially among prospective buyers. When looking for minor upgrades that can help sell a home, homeowners can rely on Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report.” That report analyzes costs for an assortment of remodeling projects and determines the value of those projects at resale. Though resale value depends on a host of variables, including location, the following are some relatively minor exterior upgrades that impress buyers and provide a strong return for homeowners.

• Garage door replacement: Garage doors matter more than sellers may recognize, as various real estate professionals note that buyers appreciate homes with updated garage doors. That’s good news for homeowners, as the “2022 Cost vs. Value Report” indicated homeowners recoup roughly 93% of their garage door replacement investment at resale. The average cost of such a job is right around $4,000, making this a budget-friendly remodeling project.

“Buyers certainly notice a bad garage door but sometimes, just a fresh coat of paint will bring back the beauty,” said Scott Cavinee, broker and manager of SWC Properties. “It’s often more about effort than money.”

• Window replacement: The cost of new windows will depend on just how many windows must be replaced. But there’s no denying buyers like the idea of low emissivity (low-E) windows, which can cut energy bills by a significant amount over time. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy estimates that heat gain and heat loss through windows is responsible for between 25% and 30% of residential heating and cooling energy use, so sellers who can tell buyers they have new low-E windows can emphasize those savings in home listings. The “2022 Cost vs. Value Report” indicates that homeowners recoup roughly two-thirds of their investment in new windows at resale.

• Landscaping: Well-maintained landscaping is another home exterior component that can make a strong first impression on buyers. A recent survey of nearly 7,000 realtors conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that upgrading a landscape recouped roughly 83% of homeowners’ initial investment at resale. In addition, 11% of realtors surveyed indicated that an upgraded landscape was the decisive factor that closed the deal for the house.

“I tell my clients that it’s my job to get buyers to drive past their house but it’s their job to make the buyer want to come inside,” Cavinee said. “Step back on the street and look at the front of your house. It’s all about curb appeal and again, that doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be trimming back bushes and trees or purchasing some flowers for the porch.”

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