As the Spring market picks up, buyers and sellers are imagining their ultimate home. Sellers know that, in a crowded market, they need to make their home very appealing to buyers who may have a lot to choose from. Think Property Brothers Buying and Selling or Love it or List it. 

If you’re anything like me, HGTV is a great place for garnering ideas for DIY projects or for dreaming of small renovations I could have done to my house in order to “love it more”. All it would take is a little money right?! What the reality shows don’t show are the months of planning, architects, contractors and the around the clock work it takes to film an episode. And the cost? Well, if you take into account the average cost per square foot, the designers, finishes, and furnishings they use to stage the home, you can count on the fact that it would definitely break the bank of the average homeowner.

And let’s be real, who has the time to tackle a major DIY remodel? Most larger projects require a general contractor and/or an architect who can advise on which walls can come down to open up a space and what type of issue you may find hidden behind the sheet-rock. 

Now the question is whether the remodel is worth the money. Sure, if you love your neighborhood, the schools are amazing and your friends are right around the corner, home improvement can be more desirable than trying to find a new home. However, where you spend the money is important. Before starting a major remodel or addition, it’s important to know the housing prices in your neighborhood. Most homeowners feel that if they improve their home, they’ll get more money when it’s time to sell. But this can be a fantasy a la HGTV.

When contemplating any remodeling project, homeowners should consider the value they will receive from the project over any cost recovery that may be available from a sale. However, when contemplating two equally useful changes, homeowners should research local real estate guides to determine which projects are most likely to pay for themselves. Remember that bigger is not always better, and spending more does not always ensure a greater degree of value creation. Home prices will always reflect the tastes of local property buyers and the amounts those buyers are willing to pay in a particular neighborhood or subdivision.

Historically, certain projects, such as the addition of a wood deck, kitchen and bathroom upgrades, and window replacement, have shown the greatest ROI regardless of the property’s location or the state of the residential property market.

At the end of the day, buying, selling or renovating your home are huge decisions not to be taken lightly. Whatever decision you make, remember, it’s not as easy as HGTV!