Q: My question is how do you determine when you are done renovating/redecorating? In short, how do you know when you've done enough to maximize your return and minimize your investmentof time and materials? - Melissa
A: Like most of our spending, we do stick to a renovating budget. It's a little easier, though, when you are buying a home to sell within a two year period, than if you plan to live in it for an unspecified time.
When we bought this home, we hoped it would be worth about $50,000 more, and we capped our budget at $5,000. This included all necessary repairs and cosmetic work.
If we lucked out and found materials cheap or free, then we had more to spend on cosmetics. But we knew if the roof caved in or the A/C died, we would have to get by with fresh paint and waxed floors.
Sometimes the budget has forced our most creative ideas!
Repairs vs. cosmetics--you know where I'd prefer to spend my money. We take our buyer's inspection report and methodically fix every item noted.
We hope we've selected a home with minimal repairs. You can spend to put a new roof on the house, but you won't necessarily get that money back at closing. Why? Because buyers already expect a home to have a decent roof. Likewise for plumbing and electrical. They're necessities that go largely unseen by buyers.
I'm not saying that physical upgrades don't count--but you shouldn't count on them to command a premium price.
Here's another common mistake: don't sink money into remodeling that reflects personal taste. What good is $50/roll wallpaper when most buyers might rip it out later?
Invest your decorating money on furnishings that complement the house, then take them with you when you leave.