6 Best Home Repairs for a Fix and Flip
Many factors go into the perceived value of a property, from the location to square footage. However, even when these basic components are positive, many buyers still put aesthetic elements first. This is true for everything from empty lots to commercial buildings: if your available property isn’t making the most of its potential, there’s a good chance you won’t get the offers you expect.
The focus on cosmetic features only grows for residential customers. Buyers, especially those who plan to live in a property or rent it out for tenants to use, often care greatly about the appearance of a home. Houses that don’t live up to expectations can be quickly overlooked.
Fixing and flipping real estate often seems like a big undertaking, but a few small tweaks can be the difference between minutes on the market or years of failed open houses. These are six of the best home repairs to move your residential investment properties quickly, effectively, and at a profit.
The kitchen is one of the centerpieces of a home. It’s where residents meet with family and friends, cook meals, and spend time enjoying the culinary arts together. While most kitchens ostensibly need little more than counters, basic appliances, and room for a table, modern homebuyers frequently seek more. From large, vaulted ceilings with plenty of sunlight to a brand new high-end range, the potential in kitchens is vast.
One of the top critiques in homes for sale involves the inadequacy of kitchen space. Even when a simple remodel can handle the major issues, many buyers shy away from the work that goes into a big renovation. Luckily, as a seller, there are plenty of ways for you to change a prospective buyer’s mind.
Most kitchen upgrades are superficial in nature, requiring little more than an updated countertop, appliance replacements, and refinished cabinets. These changes are generally affordable and can be undertaken on a short timeline, providing a fast flip without wasted time or money.
Additionally, there are many ways to create big budget looks for less. While marble countertops are often preferred, granite has a similar look and costs a fraction of the price. The same is true for cabinets; rather than starting from scratch, simply replacing the doors can provide the illusion of a major remodel. Stainless steel appliances can blend in with any property and come in many lower cost models, allowing for inexpensive upgrades that appear sleek and sophisticated.
If you want to go bigger, the market is good for kitchen improvements. A 2013 study found that nearly half of buyers will pay extra for a kitchen island, providing a great way for an enterprising investor to take an ordinary kitchen from basic to breathtaking.
Bathroom Efficiency Improvements
Virtually all homeowners spend significant time in the bathroom each day, from showering in the morning to cleaning up before bed at night. Like kitchens, bathrooms can meet most human needs with the bare basics – a toilet, a shower, and a sink – but going above and beyond can drive up home values significantly.
Most bathrooms are cramped, tight, and unpleasant, but taking measures to change this can do wonders for the appearance of a home to potential buyers. Even small and awkward bathrooms can be improved to look more spacious with the right adjustments, and some of the most impactful changes are extremely affordable.
When light is an issue, a change in tile can make tiny spaces look larger and luxurious. Sleek white tiles can increase the visible space in a bathroom and are very easy to clean, providing a room that is simple to care for and pleasant to experience. Windowless bathrooms often feel dark and dank, but adding a window is usually out of the scope for a home flip. When natural light is impossible, however, improvisation can be a worthy alternative. Bathroom light fixtures tend to be overlooked, but investing in lamps or bulbs with a more natural appearance can provide a significant ROI for under $100.
Fixtures like toilets and tubs rarely need to be replaced, but changing a sink can be both affordable and effective. A messy or outdated counter area can look cramped, while a new ceramic sink with granite countertops can provide an upscale look on a budget. If space allows, storage options like linen closets and cabinets can reduce clutter as well, furthering the illusion of a larger space than is truly available.
As an investor, flooring may seem superfluous. After all, most homeowners have specific preferences, and wasting money on carpet that may be torn up and replaced can feel like wasted effort. However, updating flooring can be one of the best ways to completely change the look and feel of a room, taking a property from tired and tattered to clean and refreshed.
Carpeting is an easy and affordable choice that fits in most homes, but select with caution. While white always looks great in living spaces, it can get dirty very easily, especially when homeowners have kids and pets. To appeal to the greatest possible number of buyers, choose durable materials in neutral colors, ensuring a good match for any lifestyle or decor preference.
For investors focused on value, nothing compares to hardwood. It’s a more expensive option, with purchase and installation costs often exceeding double that of carpet, but the value proposition is quite attractive. In fact, 54% of buyers are willing to spend more for wood flooring – a great opportunity for investors looking for a surefire way to boost sales prices.
When existing floors have promise, a full upgrade may not be necessary. For example, a property with hardwood floors that are scuffed and scratched can be revitalized with a simple sanding and refinishing job, while dirty tile can look better with a good bleaching. Weigh the pros and cons of moving forward carefully: if you don’t need to buy new flooring, don’t waste the money.
Curb Appeal Enhancements
While amateurs to the home flipping scene often put their focus on the interior, seasoned investors know the value of curbside appeal. The inside of a property is important, but getting buyers interested also means presenting an attractive outward appearance. A house may be beautiful on the inside, but if the outside tells a different story, it can be a challenge to garner any attention at all.
Landscaping is essential in preparing a property for market, even if you stick to the basics. While gardening and planting can make a difference, there’s no need to go overboard; simple grooming and pruning can be enough to take a tired property and transform it into something beautiful.
It may be compelling to pull out the lawnmower yourself, but an investment in a professional team will yield the best results. Landscapers can tackle everything from mowing the lawn to shaping hedges, utilizing commercial equipment to get the job done in a matter of hours. Hiring a landscaper is often extremely affordable as well, costing you no more than a few hundred dollars for a day of natural upgrades.
If a property is in truly poor shape, you may need to focus on more than the lawn. For example, a beat-up driveway might require a new topcoat, and broken walkway flagstones should be replaced. Whether consciously or not, these are aspects buyers notice, and getting the best return means making sure no aesthetic stone goes unturned.
Expand Living Space
If you bought your investment property at a serious bargain, there may be room left in the budget for a major upgrade: more living space. While certainly not right for every purchase, this move can vastly improve the return on your investment for properties in need of serious TLC.
As investors know, houses that are good candidates for flipping aren’t necessarily houses that are good candidates for immediate residency. The best values can often be found on homes with significant failings, like a lack of living space. For example, an otherwise lovely home with one bedroom and one bathroom may be in a great school district in a neighborhood full of young families, but without room for kids, you’ll have trouble attracting your target audience.
Successful home flipping requires seeing potential and fulfilling it, and that’s what a home addition can do. An extra bedroom and bathroom suite, a den or library, or a spacious garage can add immense value to a home by turning a previously less desirable property into something perfect for a new buyer.
Adding onto a home is one of the largest changes you can make as an investor, with costs ranging from $35,000 to over $100,000, but on the right home, the possibilities are unparalleled. An extra bedroom alone can increase both list price and demand, boosting the time to sale while allowing you to raise the list price by a significant amount. Don’t jump right into this change; instead, be sure to spend plenty of time evaluating the feasibility and expected increase in value before contacting contractors or breaking ground.
If possible at your home, a basement is a great option. It’s an easy storage solution, especially for possessions that are too dirty to keep in the main areas of the home. And, when renovated properly, it can do wonders for living space.
Many basements are unfinished, and while this isn’t inherently a bad thing, leaving the basement untouched can mean missing out on amazing potential. A few quick fixes, like new flooring, updated walls, and a little paint, can take an unusable area and transform it into something families will love, giving you a great way to boost a home’s value. The costs can be steep, especially for fully unfinished spaces that require deep cleaning before work can begin, but the benefits of adding square footage often far exceed the work that goes into transforming a raw basement.
Rather than going all out, focus on the major areas and do just enough to show a buyer the opportunity available in the space. There’s also no need to redo an entire basement, either; many investors choose to cut costs by finishing part of a basement, leaving unfinished space available for a laundry room, storage area, or work bench. This kills two birds with one stone, so to speak, offering two kinds of usable space for homebuyers to utilize as necessary.
For many buyers, imagining property changes can be next to impossible, no matter how hard you work to paint an accurate picture. As a seller, it’s your job to bring these upgrades to life, and investing in your property to raise market values can be the quickest way to see big profits on a sale. These six quick fixes are simple, affordable, and very effective, offering a great way to show buyers exactly why your property is the right choice.
Scott Clift is a licensed real estate broker with Westpark Loans. He has been in the real estate industry since 1994. His team of seasoned professionals specialize in providing real estate loans for investors and other self-employed individuals. When you are ready to invest in real estate, call Westpark Loans to secure your financing at (844) 574-LOAN or by visiting westparkloans.com.