Are you sure it’s an upgrade?

Are you sure it’s an upgrade?
Date Published: June 1, 2015
Annie and Nikki Holmes

After more than a dozen years in the real estate business, we’ve yet to meet a new homeowner who doesn’t want to make at least some small change in the new digs.
So whenever we turn over the keys, we always urge our clients to stay in touch if they need advice in maintaining their home’s value. And thanks to their valuable input, we’ve developed a list of questions that every homeowner should weigh before tackling any change more serious than a new coat of paint.

• If you’re converting your attic to an office or teen pad, will it be used enough to justify a slight loss when you sell? According to statistics, the average return in a stable market is 70 to 80 percent. However, if you live in a sought-after neighborhood, or one with an extremely low turnover, you may get all your money back and then some.

• Should you sacrifice your garage? Converting a garage to extra living or recreation space ranks high on the list of popular upgrades.
But this too is a move whose cost often depends on neighborhood standards. In an upscale area, it’s usually a bad idea to be the first on your block to depend on curbside parking. The absence of a garage is rarely a selling point to home-seekers who own expensive cars. But if most of your neighbors have already made the conversion, we usually say, “Why not?” You’ll enjoy the new amenities, the added space, and probably have a good chance of recouping your investment.

• Can you document the value of your improvement? For clients who decide to go solar, or bulk up their home’s insulation, the drop in monthly heating and cooling bills can be eye-popping and easily established. But one of our clients presented a more unusual case.
They had a beautiful cantilevered deck, but it was 20 years old, riddled with dry rot, and needed replacing. After consulting a structural engineer, they learned that if they converted from redwood to concrete, it would cost about the same. The advantage to this conversion was that the concrete was maintenance free. They’d never again face those every-other-year staining charges, which according to their stack of old invoices tallied about $15,000.
When you love the home you live in, you don’t always care whether a change that sweetens your life will pay off at resale time. But it’s always good to know.

Nikki Holmes is Broker/Owner of Gold Rush Realty. Annie Holmes is publicist for GoldStar Homes & Gold Rush Realty, Inc. Reach them at (530) 906-7745, or at Gold Rush Realty offices in Auburn or Fair Oaks.