What effect do your neighbors’ homes have on your property values — and what can you do about it?
We’ve all seen the streets where one house on an otherwise gorgeous block sticks out like a sore thumb because of a neighbor who never mows the lawn or takes the time to address the chipped and peeling paint on the façade.
On the flip side, we’ve also been intimidated by the Martha Stewart types living next door who are always making home improvements and beautifying the yard.
The question every homeowner wants to know is exactly: what home improvements will increase will impact property values?
“It depends”, says Emily Green, a realtor at Sandy Green Realty and the 2014 president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.
When thinking about home improvements, repairs and how to increase property values, here’s what to keep in mind:
Focus on what you love — not what you think will increase your property values.
“Some of the most disgruntled sellers are the ones who can’t get their money back from an extensive improvement that was completed in order to add value,” Green explains. “If you don’t cook much, why would you spend tens of thousands on a gourmet kitchen remodel?”
Start with the things that will enhance your quality of life in the home. For example, if you’re a family who spends a lot of time in the backyard, a patio addition could be a safer bet. Your family will enjoy it, and it will also add value when you sell. Win-win.
Research your surroundings.
Improvements aren’t uniform in every market. Factors affecting property values in one market may not have the same impact in another. Bathroom additions can certainly add value, Green says, but check the market first. Adding a master bath might be less valuable than adding a main floor bath, or vice versa, depending on where you live.
The same goes with outdoor features like pools — if your home is the only one on the block without a pool, it could be problematic. But being the only one on the block with a pool might not do much to boost your home’s value.
“It doesn’t hurt to reach out to your realtor to get a sense of how each of the options would affect your home’s value,” Green says.
Weigh the costs.
Kitchens and bathroom upgrades are the improvements that can take your house into another price bracket, says Green. But you should do a cost analysis to see if you’ll really come out ahead. Going above and beyond standard upgrades doesn’t always mean you’ll get the same return on investment (ROI).
“Most often, it’s not advantageous to do major improvements just to sell your home,” she says.
On the other hand, if you’ve got functional problems like a leaky roof or windows that are old and drafty, it might add considerable value to have those replaced or fixed before you put your home on the market.
Focus on upkeep.
Don’t let your garden turn into a jungle or put off repainting the house, because it can have a serious impact on curb appeal. Plus putting it off will only make it harder to deal with down the line. Instead, keep your home’s exterior looking good with yearly home maintenance.
“The front of the house is what the buyer sees in that crucial ‘first impression’ moment,” Green says. “If the exterior is dilapidated, the buyer will enter the house expecting a lot of deferred maintenance and issues with the house.”
Boost curb appeal through tasks as simple as painting the front door or adding potted plants.
Encourage your neighbors to keep up their homes too.
If your neighbors’ homes and yards are well kept and appealing, that’s a good thing in terms of your property values. It’s the neighbor who never weeds his yard or whose house looks shabby that will pull down your property values.
Bottom line? Make sure those Joneses keep up with you.