What appraisers look for: Home improvements that pay off

Home prices are still sky-high.  But if you’re looking to sell your home, there are some improvements you can make to help ensure you get the highest price you can.

The key to maximizing your appraisal is to keep up with the Jones', to improve your home to about the same level as your neighbors have improved theirs.

"We don’t want to go too far over what’s standard for the market. And we don’t want to be too far below," said Audrey Herndon, a State Certified Residential Appraiser, and a member of the Appraisal Institute.  

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Herndon explains that a home below the quality of neighboring homes will sell for less, and upgrading above them may cost more than you'll get back.  

Keep that in mind when upgrading your moneymaker, the kitchen.

"Most of them have this kind of granite.  It would be unreasonable to put in a really expensive marble, or it would be unreasonable to put a formica countertop in there. That would be the under and over," explained Herndon.  

She suggests replacing old appliances with new, matching appliances, and making sure the counters, back splash, and flooring go well together.  Colors should be neutral, but you can add a splash of color.

"Right now we’re mostly with blues. We’ve got a lot of blue islands," said Herndon.

The next payoff comes from updating bathrooms, followed by replacing worn flooring.  

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She says having two types of flooring, such as wood and tile, is good, and they should color coordinate.

"If the majority of the homes in the neighborhood are improving with a hard wood, it would probably be best to improve with a hardwood instead of a vinyl," she said.

Since the pandemic increased the desire for outdoor space, swimming pools and covered patios make homes much more marketable.  But she says you usually won't get back the full amount you spend.

"A lot of times, we’ll see these massive outdoor improvements, pools, outdoor living, covered patio with a kitchen and fire place. They can get really overboard for their immediate community," said Herndon.

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But with home prices still so high, is spending money to fix up a home really worth it?

"In the end, it should be. It should be, to sell your home. But it may not be necessary right now," she said.

To find an appraiser, you can contract the Appraisal Institute.