Ask a SoCal Realtor: Will your remodel earn you money?

Davidkean4_2When it’s time to sell your home, which upgrade will bring a bigger return on your remodeling investment:

Granite or Corian counters? A bigger master bath or a walk-in closet? Tile or wood floors? New windows or a new roof? A patio or a deck?

Will the remodel you are considering now add a lot to your asking price, or just a little? Or will your remodel actually lower the asking price?

To help you sort that out, David Kean, a Los Angeles real estate agent with Prudential California Realty, will answer your online questions this week about the appeal of your remodel to future buyers.

Just post your question in the comment section below. And please give David as much information as possible: the town you live in, the age of the home, the value of homes in the area, how long you plan to live in the home before you sell, what kind of remodel you’re considering, etc.

Post your question, then check back to get David’s answer.

9 Comments on Ask a SoCal Realtor: Will your remodel earn you money?

  1. David Kean

    Dear Willie,
    Some agents do care about their clients getting the most money for their home. If I can help a client make more money on their home, they will use me in the future and refer me to their friends. When analyzing comps, I take the condition of the property and upgrades into consideration. The more move-in ready and upgraded a house is, the more buyers are willing to pay. It’s less burdensome for most homebuyers to have a slightly higher mortgage than to come up with the cash and time to do the renovations themselves. I agree that a Tiki hut is not a wise investment of one’s renovation dollar.

  2. david Kean

    Dear Mike,
    Granite counters are almost always a major plus, but keep the color neutral. I would suggest shopping around for the best price. Ask your local marble and granite yards if they have any deals or end lots. There are lots of counter options. Granite, marble, quartz, concrete, stainless, tile can all be beautiful. Come up with a budget for renovations. If you get a really great price on something else like appliances, it will help make up for spending more for the counters you really want. It’s smart to take a look at similar townhouses in your neighborhood and see what features they offer. Appearing more custom than cookie-cutter will give you an edge over the competition when it comes time to sell. However, homeownership isn’t completely about resale. It’s first and foremost about enjoying living in your home.

  3. David Kean

    Dear Marianne,
    While the solar power system is green, I don’t think it will get you more “green” for your house. Going “green” is something you do for yourself and the environment. It may pay for itself over the 10-year period if it saves you enough money on your power bill. It thinks it’s a nice feature but it won’t influence buyers either way. One word of caution; make sure not to place the system in a visually obtrusive location.

  4. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Mike, I know you asked David’s opinion on your counters, not mine, but I wonder if you ever considered granite tiles for your kitchen, rather than slab granite? I’ve seen some really nice counters with granite tiles, and with the right color grout, a very thin line of grout, you can’t really see at a glance that they are tiles. I posted a project a few days ago with granite tile counters that the homeowners installed themselves. That post is at:
    If you wanted professionals to do it, I’ll bet you could go to a tile shop and they would recommend a tile contractor to do it. Last time I checked granite tiles range from $4 each (or less) to more than $15, depending on the type. My sense it that you could get granite tiles professionally installed for way less than half the price of slab granite. In a more expensive house, like a $2 million house, I think slab granite would be necessary, but for a moderate-priced townhouse, granite tile seems appropriate. But we’ll see what David says! Thanks for the question.

  5. mike a

    regarding counters–what would you recommend? 2 bedroom townhouse in south oc. how much would you spend and any recommendations on contractors would be welcome?
    background info: 1300 sq. ft. townhouse which is going for $450k, built in 1990 and looking to sell or rent out in the next year or 2. have ugly white tile counters now and would like granite slab but all the contactor bids came in at $4,500–$5500+ when I started to remodel, I just copied a page out of pottery barn catalog–dark wood floors, milk chocolate walls, crown and base molding and replaced the windows. thanks in advance for your advice.

  6. Marianne

    Mr Kean: We own a 4-bedroom, two-story 2,200 square foot home in Northridge and we are considering investing in a grid-tied solar power system, mainly for the independence we would get from the power company and rising fuel costs. I figure it will cost about $30,000. If we sell the house in about 10 years, will we recoup most or all of that money? I want to do it, but my husband has heard that “green” features on a house do not translate into a bigger asking price, so I wondered what your experience has been. Are buyers tuned into energy efficiency, or just location and square footage. Thanks in advance.

  7. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Mike, the real estate agent needs more information to advise you. If townhouses in your area sell for less than $400,000, for instance, or more than $1 million, this will make a difference in the counter material that might be appropriate. Can you give more details? What material is on your counters now? What kind of flooring do you have? How long do you plan to live in the home? Thanks!

  8. mike a

    regarding counters–what would you recommend? 2 bedroom townhouse in south oc. how much would you spend and any recommendations on contractors would be welcome?

  9. Willie

    With respect to the how much can you get on your remodel, Real Estate Agents don’t care. I have seen them asking the same amount of money for a run down place and completely redone place. Their excuse is comparables in the neighborhood. Of course the tricked out place will probably fetch the asking price and make the job of the agent easier, but if you embark on a remodel, do it for you and your family and not fatten up the real estate’s agent pocket book.
    I don’t need the advice of Real Estate Agent to know that remodels that are too personal would actually devalue the property. When I set up to to my remodel I made sure that my money was invested in kitchen, bathrooms and flooring. I did not a Tiki Hut or something that would have reflected your or my bad taste or that you or I are a freaks. I did not add a pool because the vast majority of buyers don’t want one anyway, if they want one they could add one later on. Think about how expensive it is to run a swimming pool 12 months 24/7 only to use it a couple of mn ths out the year. Trust me the novely of having a pool will wear off quickly and the money pit will keep draining your pockets with siginificantly increased utility expenses. It is cheaper to take yourself and your children to water parks instead.
    Remodels to sell only pays for your realtor, not you!