Best Home Improvements to Increase my Home’s value? Kitchen Countertops Go “Pop.”
(From March 10, 2014)
Larry from Kentucky wrote in to Ask Dr. FSBO how to make his kitchen look a bit better without spending a ton of money. After an initial period of surprise that Larry had wandered back towards the subject of this column, I decided to answer his question here.
What are the best home improvements to increase my home’s value? The best home improvements to increase your home’s value depend on your budget, the current condition of your home, and your local real estate market. However, some common home improvements that can increase your home’s value include kitchen and bathroom renovations, landscaping, adding additional living space, and updating energy-efficient features.
Countertop resurfacing should be considered if you are contemplating a wholesale kitchen renovation or are simply looking for a potential means of sprucing up your food preparation area and making your kitchen “pop.” Countertops are one of the most visible aspects of any kitchen, along with under-cabinet lighting which we’ll tackle a little bit later. Their color and texture immediately capture the attention of anyone entering the area. As such, a change in countertops can serve to breathe new life into the entire area. A rundown kitchen can look new again or a smaller room may be given the illusion of greater size simply by repairing or replacing worn countertops.
The nature of countertop resurfacing varies depending on what one has in the beginning and what they are hoping to accomplish in the end. For instance, removing an existing laminate countertop and replacing it with new material with a different look may require little more than stripping off the old laminate and carefully replacing it with new pieces. This kind of countertop resurfacing tends to be relatively inexpensive and does not necessarily require expert skills.
Other countertop resurfacing techniques require more money, effort, and talent. For instance, one may decide to replace their existing laminate countertop with a tile top. Ceramic tiles, of course, are far more expensive than replacement laminate. Additionally, they require more care in installation and take much longer to cut and place than does a laminate replacement. The results may be stunning, but the process can be quite time-consuming for an amateur.
In some cases, one may not be interested in actually replacing their countertops. Instead, they may be considering resurfacing as a way to repair and maintain an existing option. Those with high-end granite counters or other exotic stone variations, for instance, may find it necessary to hire an expert in countertop resurfacing to repair nicks, scratches, and other damage common to kitchen areas. Those who have stainless steel counter areas will generally want to consult with a professional if they have experienced significant damage to their countertops as repair or restoration can be very difficult in these cases.
I’m a FSBO do-it-yourselfer getting ready to sell!
Resurfacing is a project that many “do-it-yourselfers” can manage without assistance, so long as the project is kept relatively simple. However, those with designs on doing something a bit more complicated or who plan on using very expensive materials may want to hire a resurfacing professional to handle the job. These experts know exactly what needs to be done in order to successfully resurface virtually any kind of countertop and can be well worth the money they cost.
Resurfacing is a great way to give an old kitchen a new look. The change in appearance brought on by changing countertops alone is drastic. If done in conjunction with other renovations, you can take a big step toward a “new” kitchen by doing some countertop resurfacing.
Happy New Year, Homeowners! Can’t afford to move? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It’s the second week of the new year. I usually take off the first week because of family, company, and snow. Now, this year we had them all, so we did get a bit sideways.
My practice still had a handful of active listings left, and I swear the demand for showings remained pretty high, so there were a lot of houses sold, even in the nasty weather.
The Good — A good part of this market this year, was that it was a bit like a feeding frenzy. People came out of the woodwork to buy houses. Many people who were able to sell their own homes, did so. Fast. They were delighted.
The value of almost all homes around here had gone up tremendously, so that, especially when combined with a huge savings of commission, put a smile on a lot of faces.
The Bad — OK, the old house is sold, and in record time. It was sold fsbo with a lot less commission, so there was a lot more money left in the seller’s pocket. More smiles on faces.
The Ugly — Actions do have consequences, the seller soon learns. In a rush to take advantage of the larger equity in his house, the seller realizes he has no place to go after closing.
The other houses that are still for sale are equally high-priced, and rent for houses and apartments are over the moon expensive. Now maybe a bit late to plan ahead. You probably should have done that EARLY in your home sale process.
What if Moving Doesn’t Make Sense Right Now?
In addition to being a great time to sell your house, it’s also a great time to borrow some money and work on your current house. You have open to you a couple of alternatives to selling your house and moving. To explore all of the possibilities are beyond the scope of this article, but let me get your thoughts started. Three of the reasons people sometimes move are to get more room. to get less room (and smaller utility bills) and to get trendier or more functional pieces and parts. So consider these.
Add on — Let’s grab an extra room or two for stretching out. Add on a room. Take in the garage or the porch. Finish the basement or attic. This is a good time to sketch out your ideas on paper and get a couple of estimates. You can get more estimates later, but for now, we are looking at feasibility.
This is probably one of the most expensive choices, but it will add square feet to your home (and its value as well) so open a dialogue with your banker or your current mortgage lender. Some lenders are possibly already sending you letters encouraging you to take advantage of your current house value and ongoing relationship.
Your bank (branch) is also in a good location to know the neighborhood values., so talk to them too.
The keyword here is a line of credit loan rather than a personal loan or credit card.
Remodel kitchen — My wife and I went through this a few months ago, and it resulted in a pretty great custom kitchen. We used a big box store credit plan of 6 months interest-free and had our own selected people do the labor and the installation. Word of caution, though. My calendar and your calendar and the calendar of kitchen artisans are quite different. This project will take three to four times as long as everyone tells you it will.
Right now the slower supply chain doesn’t help matters either.
Remodel a bath — Ditto on the bath. We did the bath before we did the kitchen. We did the guest bath, and it ended up looking so great, that I think on some level, we wished we had done our primary bath first. We bought the cabinetry and fixtures on the no-interest plan and paid our craftsmen separately. It still took forever.
Another hint. We were much less satisfied by the gen pop of workers working with the vendor store than we were with our own people-finds.
Go for new windows and or doors if just to cut your utilities or be more comfortable. Extra insulation where possible is good too. Fireplaces, gas logs, green thermostats, and water heaters can add up to make your house feel and act like a new one.
So make it happen. If you waited too late to sell, or if you’re just not ready yet, it’s not the end of the world.
Real estate broker of 38 years offers new free book "8 steps to selling your own house without paying an agent in 2023." Click this link.
Originally published at
on March 10, 2023.
Thanks for reading!
Don’s a keen observer and prolific reporter of truth, common sense, humor, & life. He’s a WRITER|Broker, living in Nashville, Tn. He has been a broker for 38 years. Follow him on TWITTER, FACEBOOK, MEDIUM, or his WEBSITE.
Tap here to get Medium to deliver Don’s stories right to your mailbox. And they are ALWAYS available HERE (no hassle, all here together.)