Remodeling a Kitchen for Resale

A kitchen can make or break the sale of a house. Get six tips on turning your kitchen into buyer bait.
Couple with Realtor

Realtor Discusses Possible Renovations with Buyers

Realtor discusses possible kitchen renovations to prospective home buyers.

By: Kristen Hampshire

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For potential buyers, the kitchen is the room that can make or break the sale. An upgraded, attractive kitchen can make your home irresistable. Ideally, your kitchen renovation should earn a 70 percent return on investment when you sell your home. But this depends on the features you choose, how much you spend remodeling and whether your priority is to create a dream kitchen for yourself or a kitchen that will appeal to potential buyers.

Remodeling for resale means choosing materials that appeal to the masses. This means opting for stainless steel appliances that are high quality rather than professional-grade models. Spend on functional features like pantry drawers, soft close cabinet drawers and doors, waste-recycling cabinetry. But don’t over-personalize the space. You may appreciate the art-deco drawer pulls that cost $50 a pop, but will buyers care? Probably not.

The biggest mistake homeowners make is spending more on the remodeling project than their home value can support. Don’t expect to get optimum return on a $65,000 kitchen if the home is valued at $300,000. Generally speaking, you can spend between 6 and 10 percent of the total home value and get fair returns. You also can be too thrifty and overlook items that buyers looke for in your price range.

“Here in Manhattan, if you do not list a certain brand of refrigerator at certain addresses, it can devalue your apartment,” says Roberta Bauer-Kravette, LEED AP, AKBD and director of Nieuw Amsterdam Kitchens. “The wrong appliances for the area can bring down the perceived value of your kitchen and property.”

Sure, you have a list of “wants” for your renovation, but since you need to realize a nice ROI on this project come home-sale time, you must set priorities based on what sells a kitchen. Keep in mind cost of every project. Even if cabinets are outdated, is it worth the cost to replace them, or will changing out the hardware refresh the look enough to give the kitchen an updated appearance? “If you rip out cabinets, you’re getting into big bucks and that adds to the bottom line,” says Lori Carroll, president of Tucson, Ariz.-based Lori Carroll & Associates.

No matter what changes you make in your kitchen with resale in mind, never compromise the architecture of your home. “When you sell your home, buyers fall in love with the exterior of the home first. That will engage them,” says Ellen Rady, president, Ellen Rady Designs, Cleveland, Ohio. “If someone really likes your traditional home and you put in a contemporary kitchen, you are setting yourself up for such a niche market of a buyer who is willing to live in a traditional exterior home and who will be happy with a very contemporary kitchen.”

Always a safe bet: “Go transitional,” Rady says.

6 Tips To Make Your Kitchen Appeal to Buyers

Consider these tips when remodeling your kitchen for resale:

Talk to real estate professionals. Ask a local real estate agent about kitchen must-haves in your neighborhood. Find out what attracts buyers, and what repels them. “Research what is being marketed by the real estate professionals in your area and buy those,” Bauer-Kravette advises. “Sometimes, it is simply a finish color that is important (stainless steel is still popular); sometimes it is a brand name.”

Keep the style and color scheme simple. Think neutral for countertops, cabinets, floors, backsplashes and appliances. By neutral, we don’t mean white. Go natural and subdued. Choose surfaces and fixtures that blend with many styles. “Select countertops and cabinets that are not busy or loud,” advises Jorge Castillo of Jorge Castillo Design in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Miami, Fla. “Simplicity is the key."

Avoid extremes. The exotic wood cabinetry, the $10,000 range, the separate refrigerator and freezer units — is it necessary or luxury? You decide. Don’t cheap out, but avoid the highest end items and features.

Open up the space. If you have a larger budget for your kitchen renovation and your floor plan is one that doesn’t allow the kitchen to “air out” to other spaces in the home, it could be worth your while to knock out some walls, Rady says. “Buyers really want that open floor plan,” she adds.

Add some ‘Wow!’ features. Convenience items impress homebuyers. Go for extra drawers, a pull-out pantry (tall or in a base cabinet), stone or stone composite countertops. Lighting, such as under-cabinet fixtures, will add ambiance and show off materials in the kitchen. (link to lighting article)

Go for granite. No matter the price range of your home, buyers want to see granite countertops. If you opt for solid surface such as pulverized quartz, choose a “pattern” that looks like granite, suggests Rady. Keep in mind the price tag when you choose granite: There’s no need to go for the most obscure, high-end slab. “Check around—there are some companies that offer great specials, especially on first tier granite,” Rady says. To the buyer: granite is granite—what tier that granite is rarely makes the to-buy-or-not-to-buy discussion.

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