Q: I am considering doing some remodeling, but I want to make sure I maximize the value of my house by choosing the right projects. I was wondering if you could rank the top 5 to 10 projects you would suggest to get the best return on my investment.
A: If you want to get a real education on what people look for when they consider purchasing a home, hang out in a parade home for about an hour. These are homes builders open up to the public at certain times of the year. The builders spend a great deal of time learning about what people value most in a home.
Typically the kitchen, master bedrooms and bathrooms, and great-rooms or family rooms are the most important spaces inside. White walls are out, but if you are considering painting the interior for resale, stick to a warm, neutral palette. Wallpaper is making a comeback, but use a simple pattern.
Porcelain tile floors, showers, and backsplashes are great for resale.
For unfinished spaces, consult real estate agents in your area. Based on the home values in your neighborhood, they can give you an idea of what your home would sell for with the spaces unfinished versus finished. It doesn't make sense to spend $35,000 to finish a space if it ends up pricing your home out of the market.
The exterior is important for curb appeal. Vinyl siding is fine on the sides and back of the house, but people like the look of brick, stucco, stone, or painted fiber-cement siding on the front exterior. Brick and stone do not have to be real; faux products are appealing on the exterior if they're low maintenance.