Not necessarily the best for quick return (important if you're selling in the next year or so), but the best value in the long term. HouseLogic's "8 Most Financially Savvy Home Improvements are here
the question is how to do it so the value holds up for the long run.
Here's HouseLogic's list of the seven "Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You'll never regret"
The $20,000 figure is from the 2016 "Cost vs. Value" report* that shows costs in Portland for 27 popular remodels . It's for a "minor" kitchen remodel, (a "major" is $61,927 and an "upscale" $122,359). It also estimates how much each project will return in short-term sale price. The "minor" kitchen remodel will increase your short term sale price by $23,197 – 11% over your cost, so a pretty good investment. The "major" adds $48,371 and the "upscale" $87,667, but neither returns more than their cost. Still, if you're going to live in the house for many years, there's no dollar value on the enjoyment you'll get from the new kitchen. The report has figures on 26 other remodels. Want a copy? Let me know and it's on its way.
"That house down the street has 3-foot tall weeds all over the front yard"
"That car has been parked there for weeks"
"The business on the corner is so noisy I can't sleep"
"The neighbor's dog barks all day and night"
"I don't think that apartment being built over their garage complies with code"
In the City of Portland, there is a place to file a complaint for all these issues and more.
Click Here for a list of the right phone numbers for each of these issues, and many others. You can also file a complaint on line for almost all.
Personally, I've only filed one complaint like these. It was for a home under construction that had stopped the building process and let the weeds get 3-4 feet high. I filed an on line report and in two weeks they had been mowed.
Beyond removing an irritation to living, some of these things actually affect the value of all the homes in your neighborhood. So among other things, you're protecting your home's value when you file a legitimate complaint.
I just answered a question on a popular real estate site asking about the average amount of seller concessions for closing costs and repairs. Here's what I wrote:
You've mixed two different things when you include repairs with closing costs. A buyer's closing costs typically include some escrow & title fees, property taxes, and insurance. Repair costs are the price of repairing something significant that's defective or problematic. For example, if the sewer inspection finds a problem or if there's radon above actionable minimums. The Portland area is very much a seller's market today. The inventory of detached homes for sale in the entire 3-county metro area is down 28.1% from January 2015. We have only 1.8 months of inventory, which means if we continued to sell at the same rate and no new listings were added, in less than two months we would have sold everything. When inventory is about six months, it's considered an even buyer-seller market. What that means in terms of costs paid by the seller today is "not much", because any decent home has multiple offers, usually all over list price. In December 2015 I had a buyer write a $335,000 all-cash offer on a 2-BR 1100 SqFt home in NE Portland that was listed for $319,900. The seller received 21 offers and sold for $400,000 all cash with no inspection contingency . That's unusual but not unheard of. So if you're a buyer, and the house is decent (not a fixer, or in a bad neighborhood, or wierd floor plan), expect to offer at least list, don't expect any seller credits for closing costs and repairs are certainly negotiable.
While the chart shows Oregon as less than 30 days, the reality is that any decent Portland home that's fairly priced will be gone in a week. My last listing went live on MLS at 8:00 PM on a Saturday night. We received 10 offers by Wednesday and accepted $56,000 over the list price.
Besides the fact that the market is hot, this seller had wisely decided to have a home inspection before it went on the market, and fixed everything the inspection report turned up. I recommend the pre-listing home inspection to all my sellers. Even if you don't want to fix everything, you get the time to generate multiple estimates for the work, instead of being presented with the buyer's bid late in the standard 10-day inspection period when you can't realistically get a contractor to show up in time to get any competing estimates. It's almost like agreeing to the highest repair estimate before you even see it. Much better to have the time to get your own and either do the repairs or credit the buyer the amount of the lowest estimate.
Sometimes trees die or outlive their location. It's unfortunate, but true. But before you fire up the chain saw, be sure to check with your city. Many require permits and there are fines for cutting without. City of Portland permit is $25 but the fine can be $1,000. Also consider leaving the whole job to a professional. This is one of those jobs that may look simpler than it really is.
The current "This Week on Houzz" features "Paint and pluck revamp a Portland ranch house". See the before and after photos and the owner's comments here,
Hard to believe people would buy a home so they could jump into a remodel? OK, it does have something to do with the age of the home. It's maybe not surprising that nearly three in four who purchased a home built before 1921 did; but nearly one in three who bought a new home (built since 2009) did too. More than half of all home buyers started a home improvement project withing 90 days of purchase.
Remodeling the kitchen was most popular (47%), with bathroom a close second (44%). (From National Association of Realtors)
The best reference I know (short of an actual bid from a local contractor) for remodeling cost and how it affects the value is Home Remodeling magazine's bi-annual issue on the subject, available free here.
It defines every remodeling job. For example a mid-range bathroom remodel is described as:
"Update an existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom. Replace all fixtures to include 30-by-60-inch porcelain-on-steel tub with 4-by-4-inch ceramic tile surround; new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control; standard white toilet; solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink; recessed medicine cabinet with light; ceramic tile floor; vinyl wallpaper"
Then it gives you an estimate of what that will cost, in every major metropolitan area of the county (the link is to Portland, OR), AND how much of that cost you will likely recover when you sell. In addition to Mid-Range, many projects also present an Upscale version.
You'll notice that not a single remodeling project will return more than its cost. The best is 91.5% return on a minor kitchen remodel. Of course the monetary return on investment is not the only reason to remodel. If your kitchen was top drawer by 1960 standards, you will get daily joy from one that's upgraded. If you're ready to sell, bringing a kitchen or baths up to date will also make your home sell faster, if not for more money than you put into it.
Take a look at the chart. I think you'll find some surprising numbers. Let us know with a comment on this post
Another agent in my office recently listed a Portland house which the seller (Let's call her Mary) had purchased without a home inspection (or Realtor representation). The buyer (Let's call him John) did buy a home inspection, which discovered mold, faulty wiring and hazardous attic insulation, among other things, all of which will cost Mary $12,000 to remediate. That $12,000 is an expense that most likely could have been paid by the seller when Mary bought the house. So in this case Mary saved $400 (a typical home inspection fee) and is now spending $12,000 to complete the sale to John.
Even beyond that, I recommend to all my clients, buyers and sellers both, that they purchase a home inspection. The advantage for a seller is that any significant issues are found and can be addressed by either fixing the problem, offering a credit, or adjusting the list price. The advantage to a buyer is that significant issues discovered will usually be corrected at the seller's expense.
My recocommendation to all clients, whether buyer or seller, is to not have the seller do the repairs. It's much better to either credit the amount of necessary repairs to the buyer at closing, or adjust the sale price by that amount. That way a seller doesn't have to deal with the repairs or any unhappiness from the buyer about the quality of work; a buyer gets to select who and how the work is done without worrying that the seller did the work "on the cheap".