Last Sunday I went to the Mart with my Friend Holly from Things That Inspire. On the way back I was telling her about this post, and I jokingly said,” I am going to title it, “This is a Great Post!” When she laughed along with me I figured I should just go for it. It really is a good post because of all the excellent advice…. I know I learned some things, and I hope you do too!
Last week I got a great question from an anonymous reader:
“Hi Blayne, I really enjoy reading your blog! I have a question about my house, and I wanted to see if you could ask around at Beacham & Company and find an answer for me. My Husband and I bought our Buckhead (Atlanta, GA) home about 10 years ago for around $800,000. It was built in 1989. We haven’t done many updates to the home, but we wanted to put it on the market in the next few months. We want to invest around 20,000 in the home before we do that. Do you think it would be a better investment to renovate the kitchen or the bathrooms?”
What a great question! As a new homeowner this is something I myself have thought about. Where is the best place to put money into your home and get it back when you sell. Luckily I have access to “The Best People in Atlanta Real Estate,” here at Beacham&Company, REALTORS, so I passed the question over to them. The response was incredible. This is invaluable advice.
Please take the time to read the responses. I think we can all learn something from them.
I have included some examples of great kitchen and bath renovations (some are original to the home but still beautiful) among the answers
-Photo supplied by Alice McDonough
This is the kitchen of an amazing home in Sea Island, listed by Alice McDonough. Source
Kitchen first. New counters, appliances, floor (if needed) and try to use the cabinets with new hardware. If possible then put granite in master bath with a new sink. Good luck. – Alice McDonough
For their budget, I would definitely say do the bathrooms first. – Wight Mixon
Beautiful master bath in Jan Hart’s listing
on Heards Ferry
20,000. is not much to put into a kitchen so I would do the master bath. – Jan Hart
Beautifully updated kitchen in one of JoEllen Bradley’s listings
Kitchen, absolutely. Bathrooms are not as large a project and some buyers cannot see a “final” product on a kitchen but bathrooms are not as “scary” to undertake. – JoEllen Bradley
-Photo supplied by Jane Cross-
Great kitchen renovation in one of Jane Cross’ listings
I would do the kitchen first. It will give more enjoyment to an entire family or couple and the bathroom is a smaller job–so a potential buyer feels like they could tackle a bath more easily. Jane Cross
of Nancy Meister’s perfectly illustrated her point. It would be wise to talk to a REALTOR before doing any renovations to make sure you are putting your money in the right place.
I would say the kitchen, but before they do anything they should have a REALTOR come over and talk to them and look at the space. – Nancy Meister
I would go with the kitchen -Bates Hite
Kitchen is your bigger return on re-sale. – Troy Stowe
By all means, renovate the kitchen. simply fluff the baths with new paint and chrome fixtures – Jim Warwick
This is a perfect example of Janey’s advice!
I would renovate the kitchen. The kitchen tends to be the heart of a home. Potential buyers want to envision so many different things all in one space…family gatherings, early mornings, & lazy weekends. The kitchen is where friends will admire the countertops and other finishes, and ask about appliances. I believe dated bathrooms are more easily forgiven, because they are a private space. The kitchen is the center of the home, so I think your focus should be there. -Janey Lowe
This photo is from Sue Newman’s listing
at 2500 Peachtree Road. Elton John once shared this address!
I think the homeowner is very smart to ask that question. My answer would be the kitchen. Everyone loves a nice fresh, new, updated kitchen. It is usually the central gathering place in the home and everyone seems to spend the most time in that room. Plus, if the homeowner seeks some professional advice from a kitchen designer, they will more than get their investment back when they sell. I wish them well. – Sue Newman
This is a listing
Neno Schildgen shares with Linda Williams. This home is on the most recent cover of “The Beacham Series.” It was built in 1900, and then renovated in 1920 by Neel Reid. In 2007 it was renovated by Bradwell Properties, and it stands as a true testament to Atlanta architecture.
I think the kitchen is your best investment for renovation! – Neno Schildgen
Great question!! Kitchens and baths are always the most important to buyers, but if you are choosing just one area in which to focus, the kitchen should definitely come first! That is where your investment will provide you the greatest return. Good Luck! – Skogstad
Photo provided by Susan Cross of her listing
An excellent question. According to the National Association of Realtors 2009 “Remodeling Cost vs Value Report”, a major kitchen remodel in our region is estimated to recoup 63.2% of your cost. A bathroom remodel’s resale value is similar at 61.6%. When considering selling your home, the best thing to do first is to contact a Realtor. He/she will be able to inform you not only about the current estimated market value of your home but also provide guidance about budget minded enhancements that will make your home stand out in a crowded market.- Susan Cross
I think the kitchen will give more bang for the buck – it is more of a “first impression”. In the baths, perhaps they could paint the cabinetry so it looks fresh and change the fixtures? Also, I think a fresh coat of paint everywhere makes a world of difference! (And removing or replacing any worn/dated carpet). – Erin Yabroudy
This Linda Williams’ listing
perfectly showcases the way fresh paint and de-cluttering transforms a home.
Updating the kitchen and baths should not be a problem for $20,000 but they will have to be creative! Declutter, change all brass hardware to polished nickel, throw away dead plants, fresh paint where needed and make the house as clean as possible! Have exterior pressure washed and add fresh pine straw and plant flowers! Ikea and Lowe’s are great sources and great prices! Good Luck!- Linda Williams
Photo provided by Rachel Farmer of one o her listings.
It would be great to have the address along with # of bdrs, baths, etc. The market was pretty strong in 2000 but it would probably be helpful to update the kitchen and baths if they haven’t already been done. For $20K they could re-paint, update systems and maybe the floors/carpet. Rachel Farmer
This is Alec Williams listing. It is the personal home of Laura Green Thome, Owner of L. Green Studios
. She is truly a magnificent interior designer. Take the time to check out her blog.
She and her husband renovated this kitchen, and the quality is so high, as is the level of taste. I will see if I can get a before picture for you guys.
It’s best to spend the majority of the $20,000 on the Kitchen, wisely, and perhaps have $1,000 to $5,000 left for the baths, particularly the master. There are clever ways to save $$ and still have the appearance of a substantial renovation. – Alec Williams
This Is the only home where I have actual before and after shots of a kitchen renovation. – BEFORE
After- Can you believe the difference? Source
Prospective homeowners should seek an outside opinion when planning to list their home for sale. This person should be a trusted professional. The last thing you want to do is waste your money. To answer your question….kitchens are very important and are often passed over because of the expense involved. If it is possible to properly renovate your kitchen (again rely on professional guidance) this may be your first choice for improvement. If your $20,000 budget is too low to do the job properly you may want to make only cosmetic changes such as repainting the cabinets and installing new counter tops. If bathrooms are in need of updating and funds are short, paint, new counter tops and reglazing of the tile may be your only option. Those of us who have been in real estate for awhile recognize first impression is very important. If a homeowner has money for nothing else, they should address the front elevation. Assure the landscaping is orderly, the front door is in good repair (i.e. clean or freshly painted) and if possible, address the color scheme of trim and/or shutters (if the existing color is worn or dated). Last but not least, prepare your home to be inviting to your visitors; perspective buyers appreciate clean, orderly and odor free homes. – Glennis Beacham
Photo provided by Anne Powers. This listing
is a great example of Anne’s point.
With the $20,000, my advice would be to buy top of the line appliances for the kitchen, such as Viking. That way, the buyers could do their own renovations (which they would probably rather do) without having to invest in new appliances and they would be able to make their renovations to those existing specifications. If there is money left over, I would give the interior a coat of fresh paint using neutral colors throughout. - Anne Powers
Photo provided by Cindy Smith
Beautiful master bath in one of Cindy’s listings.
I would invest 1st in the kitchen and if they spend their money wisely..they may have funds to also do some updating in the master bath, which is the second primary investment resale space – Cindy Smith
Photo provided by Susan Traynor from one of her listings.
Please tell your blog friend that kitchens and baths are important as well as probably switching out some of the brass light fixtures, etc. However, kitchens and baths have to be done well and simply in a somewhat neutral palette that goes well with the rest of the home. Also, probably painting and removing wallpaper may well be needed to be included. I would be happy to go out on a consult with these people just to give them some ideas, with no obligation, of course. – Susan Traynor
Photo provided by Barry Milam
Example of one of Barry’s listings
with great curb appeal!
As a builder as well as a real estate broker, my answer to your question would be if a customer wants only to spend $20,000 to update their home, it would be hard to put in cabinetry, countertops, new sink and new appliances for $20,000 in an $800,000 home. A master bath would be equally as hard to do for $20,000. After demolition, installing new vanities & bowls, stone countertops, tile floors and shower, new whirlpool tub, frameless shower enclosure and possibly new plumbing fixtures, a new master bath can easily run $25,000. And after all that work, the customer looking at buying your home may not like your choices.
Having the painting (interior and exterior), flooring and exterior appearance (curb appeal) as fresh and new looking as possible would be my suggestion with $20K. Possibly painting the kitchen cabinets as well to make the kitchen appear appealing, even if the appliances are outdated.
In todays market, buyers may be discounting your asking price, often figuring in the cost to remodel if they like your home. – Barry Milam
So, did we all learn something? I sure did!
I hope my friend who wrote the e-mail has a better idea about how to proceed. (please write me an e-mail and let me know if you do.)
Now I am passing the torch to the next person. Does anyone have a question they would like to ask “The Best People in Atlanta Real Estate?” If so, leave a comment, and your question might be the next one they answer!
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