All in Good Time? How an Outdated Kitchen May Cost You Time, Money, and Possibly Your Dream Home!

How an Outdated Kitchen May Cost You Time and MoneyHomebuyers form their initial impression from the home's exterior, but what's the first thing they want to see once they go inside? Most of the time, it's the kitchen.

You can put as much energy as you want into gardening tips to increase curb appeal, but if the house has an old, outdated, or dingy kitchen, many buyers will look no further. If the kitchen isn't up to snuff, the home may sit unsold on the market no matter what other great features it has. Sellers that are avoiding kitchen upgrades might be losing time and money. Keep reading to learn why updating a kitchen can improve the home selling process.

Kitchens Sell Homes

When I ask buyers which rooms convinced them to buy a particular home, there's one overwhelmingly popular answer: the kitchen. It's no wonder. Between preparing food, eating, and entertaining, people spend lots of time in the kitchen. Even the name "kitchen" is outdated. Today, it's a living room you can cook in.

What do home buyers want in a kitchen? They want a spacious, airy feel. They want handsome cabinets and quality countertops. New, efficient appliances are a top choice. They want a kitchen where they can move right in without having to make changes.

If you can't offer these things, your outdated kitchen could wind up costing you time and money. If you can't sell your old home promptly, you may miss out on the new dream home you always wanted.

How a Modern Kitchen Adds Value

First, let's look a why people remodel. In half of the cases, maybe more, it's because they're sick and tired of the old kitchen. If that's the way you feel about your kitchen, why would a buyer think differently?

A new kitchen increases the home market value. What's the value of a kitchen upgrade? Even an expensive top-to-bottom remodel returns more than half its cost in a higher sales price. And here's even better news: a minor kitchen remodel can boost the average sales figure by 80 percent or more of the outlay.

Now you might ask me, "Why would I spend $10,000 on a kitchen remodel to get $8,000 more when I sell?" I can give you two reasons. When you go to sell a house, time is money. You don't know how much money you're losing when potential buyers pass you by because your kitchen is mired in yesteryear. It's like selling a car with a big dent. People are going to look at a flawed kitchen and wonder what else is wrong.

The other reason is, you get to enjoy it yourself until you sell. What's the psychological cost of waking up every morning to a drab kitchen? There's no reason to when the next owner will pay most of the cost of a remodel.

Tips for Updating a Kitchen

Okay, let's say I've convinced you. You're going to take the plunge and upgrade. Now what? Here are a few guidelines.

  • Make a plan, especially if you expect to do the work in stages over time. You don't want to replace the floor, then find it gets in the way of your center island.
  • Unless you plan to stay many years, look to what's generally popular vs. your tastes.
  • Be wary of over-improving. You'll get less of your expenditure back if your expensive kitchen outshines everything else in your home's price range. Look to be above average but not the most luxurious kitchen on the internet.
  • Don't underestimate the appeal of an attractive backsplash. It's an inexpensive kitchen upgrade that punches above its weight.
  • Stainless steel appliances have been around for a while, and they're not going anywhere. They still have broader appeal than black, white, or coloured.
  • Besides new appliances, other desirable features are new cabinets, granite or quartz countertops, center islands and breakfast bars.
  • Creative lighting is in demand. Undercabinet LEDs are practical, and they add a dimension to overhead lighting.
  • Tile flooring has long been the standard, but today's luxury vinyl is less expensive, easier to install and comes in patterns that mimic tile and hardwood.
  • If the cost of new cabinets is prohibitive, consider refacing your old ones.
  • Be aware of fading trends. Over-the-stove microwaves, 4x4 floor tiles, maple cabinets and subway tile backsplashes aren't as popular as they once were.
  • When you budget, plan for a 10-20 percent contingency. There's always something that comes up and makes remodelling cost more than you anticipated.

More Enjoyment Today, More Payback Tomorrow

A modern, pleasant, and functional kitchen is not only more appealing to future buyers. It enhances the quality of life for the homeowner today. A kitchen upgrade doesn't have to be extensive. In fact, DIY home improvements can go a long way for potential buyers. Don't let an obsolete kitchen drag down your spirits and your property value. Treat yourself to an upgrade and enjoy the benefits both now and when you sell.

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