Home upgrades buyers demand in 2015

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | January 23, 2015

Determined to sell your home in 2015? You might find an easier road to success with home upgrades that appeal to potential buyers. Whether your budget is healthy or little more than a shoestring, there is an upgrade that can help you compete against all the other houses in your neighborhood. Here's what potential buyers really want in 2015, in order from most affordable to most expensive.

Spruce things up

Home improvements can be small enough to barely make a dent in your bank account, but offer huge appeal to those who come to look at your home. A few tried-and-true tricks include a fresh coat of warm, cozy paint on the walls, fresh caulk in the bathrooms and kitchen, crown molding in the more formal rooms (or all throughout the house!), and clean, freshly-polished floors. Complete all of these upgrades over the span of a few weekends for a few hundred dollars -- not a bad investment to make your home look gorgeous.

Improve the landscaping

First impressions are everything, which is why your landscaping is so important. Look for ways you can improve the look of your outdoor area without spending much money. Try cleaning up the flower beds and planting new varieties of colorful flowers, create a handsome walkway with slate pavers, give the driveway a good power-washing, and plant fresh new trees in areas where shade will be welcome. Depending upon your zeal for cleaning up the yard and how much TLC it needs, you might spend anywhere from virtually nothing to more than a thousand dollars.

Add a security system

When a potential buyer sees a new security system, two things are likely to go through their mind: Better security and lower insurance rates, both of which are a huge plus for your home. Look for a security system that is easy to use but does have some clearly posted components, such as a small video camera over the front door; you want potential buyers to feel secure the moment they begin exploring the house. Security systems are available in all price ranges, plus the cost of monitoring.

Replace the entry door

Speaking of security, replacing the entry door with a steel, insulated number is a great way to enhance curb appeal while making the home more secure. This home upgrade costs a national average of $1,162 but offers an exceptional return on investment of 96.6%, according to the 2014 Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. Choose a door in a gorgeous, eye-catching color, and install heavy, handsome new hardware.

Invest in the kitchen

Remember that the kitchen is the heart of the home; in many cases, the kitchen is what seals the deal for buyers. Give yours a great first impression by sinking money into quality upgrades, such as stainless steel appliances or a nice granite countertop. Josh Altman, host of Bravo's Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles, suggests that homeowners can recoup up to 150% of their investment with these kitchen upgrades.

Build a deck

Many families are looking to outdoor spaces to expand their enjoyment of time at home. Jump onto that trend with an upgrade that includes a basic wood deck, complete with built-in seating, planters, and a railing that complements your home's other exterior features. Remodeling Magazine states a national average cost of $9,539 for a 16x20 foot deck. Have more money to spend on an upgrade? Consider adding a hot tub to the deck for even more buyer appeal.

Upgrade a room

If you are ready to sink serious money into home upgrades, look for areas of your home where you can create more space. An attic bedroom can be a huge draw for a buyer with a growing family. According to Remodeling Magazine's report, expect to pay a national average of $49,438 for an attic bedroom.

When choosing how to spruce up your home for potential buyers, look hard at your budget and remember what might be needed in your area. For instance, a backup generator might get a great deal of attention in areas where natural disasters are common, or a garage addition might be perfect for a home that is short on storage space. Enter into thoughtful discussions with your realtor about what other home improvements might make your property look more appealing to buyers in 2015.

Photo credit to Nam Phan

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.