Vermont, with our cold winters, short growing seasons, and rocky soils isn’t an environment that creates frivolous people. Decades ago, I heard a story about an old Vermont farmer who had a one darn-good axe, for pretty near his whole life. This axe was well used but was always sharp and perfectly maintained; so well maintained that the handle had been replaced seven times and the head, 3 times, but in the end, it was still the same axe. Vermonters are known for our Yankee ingenuity, but I’d contend that this is just a by-product of our frugality brought on by the necessity to conserve what we had.
When contemplating preserving value in one’s home, it’s a good idea to think like the old farmer and the story of his old axe; keep it sharp, and replace the part that’s broken, but surely there’s no need to get frivolous. The upgrades I encourage people to make are all about keeping your home sharp, and to replace what’s worn out, but let’s keep it reasonable.
Keep it Sharp
When we keep a home for decades, often we can’t tell when it’s lost its sharpness, but keeping your house looking good, can make a massive difference when selling. Paint is the single biggest bang for your buck. Keeping your home painted with current palatable colors should be part of your ongoing maintenance routine. Even with inflation, a bucket of paint, still won’t cost you a fortune. If you’re reading this article in a room that was painted over fifteen years ago, it needs to be painted again. I’ve seen a good paint job, add more value that the original price of the entire house.
Fixtures are another area that can date your home and prevent it from looking sharp. Buyers today tend to turn their noses up at fixtures that were the norm 20 or 30 years ago. At the same time, I’ve sold homes that were sold for way more than they should have because it was so dated that it was cool again. The line between what’s trending versus what’s tacky isn’t always easy to discern and it’s not a bad idea to ask for advice before making changes. Fixtures are an inexpensive and easy upgrade that can bring your home back into fashion.
Curb appeal is another aspect that is important to consider when keeping your home sharp. Curb appeal is how the outside of our home looks from the street and is vital because it creates a first impression with your potential buyers. Keep the landscaping in check and looking loved will go a long way in maintaining or even adding value to your home. Improving your landscaping by trimming or replacing a few shrubs may be the least expensive upgrade of them all.
Fix What is Worn Out or Broken
Keeping your home serviced by replacing what’s broken or worn out is important to help preserve its value. It also a basic expectation that potential buyers have. Homeowners don’t spend money in this category to add value, it’s more done to preserve the value. Anytime we sell something broken, the value will be a fraction of what it would be if it was in working order. An example to illustrate this point is a home that needs a new furnace. A home in this condition could easily be worth a $100,000 less than if the furnace was fully operational. This is because most banks won’t finance a loan on a home that doesn’t have central heat. On the other side of the coin, spending $10,000 on a new furnace, won’t add much money to the value of the home. Therefore, keeping your old furnace running is important, but certainly, replace it if you must.
Avoid Frivolous Upgrades
A frivolous home upgrade is an upgrade that isn’t necessary and won’t add as much value as it cost. The swimming pool is one example of a frivolous upgrade. Pools can cost a small fortune and may even detract from the value of a home. That said, I recently recommended that a friend and client put one in regardless of the frivolity involved as not every purchase is made to add value, sometimes we make purchase to improve our lives. Upgrades to our kitchens and baths can be add a lot of value but can easily turn into a waste of your money. Head on over to my blog at Transitionsvt.com to read about another frivolous upgrade that would have had our frugal Vermont farmer hopping made over the sheer wastefulness of it.
Ben Durant is a leading Senior Real Estate Specialist in the State of Vermont and has a passion for supporting and defending his clients through the process of downsizing, right-sizing, and relocating in Vermont. Ben lives with his wife, Amy, and three children in Williston VT. He can be reached at Ben@TransitionsVT.com or by calling directly at 802-355-6688. Visit his website at TransitionsVT.com.