Sunday, January 25, 2009

Remodeling Investments for 2009: Kitchens Still Sizzle!

No doubt there are many homeowners who a different home but the current status of the real estate market has caused them to reconsider a move and opt for a remodel. But what the “what ifs” start creeping in too…Will I ever get the money back out of the remodel? Will the investment outweigh the value added to the home? If you are considering a kitchen remodel, it still could be good choice.

The statement “Kitchens and Baths sell homes” is second only to “Location, Location, Location” in the real estate playbook. Okay we don’t really have a playbook but the annual Cost VS Value Report for home remodels consistently shows that a higher percentage of funds used for a kitchen or bath remodel will be recouped on a sale than most other remodeling projects. In late December, the NAR released the 2008-2009 Cost VS Value Report for home remodels. This study looked at cost data, resale value and percentage recouped for 25 different projects in 80 housing markets across the United States. In Minnesota, if an homeowner does a major, mid-range kitchen remodel, he can expect to recoup about 72.7% of their expenses which is a little lower than the national average of 76% percent return on investment. A minor kitchen remodel, spending roughly $21,000 in Minnesota will be recouped at a rate of 73.3% again this is less than the national average of 79.9% but a reasonable return. (View all the statistics from the Cost vs. Value Report 2008 for the Mpls/St Paul area.)

Before a undertaking a kitchen remodel it is best to understand the “Why” of the project. Is it because your home-sweet-home is perfect except for a kitchen so small that people trip over each other on the way from the refrigerator to the table? Or is it because you want to move and the 1980’s country blue counter and white department store brand appliances have seen better days and should be put out to pasture? The approach to the perfect remodel will be different if you are planning to stay in the home for the long term.

Take a Family Lifestyle Inventory

If you are designing the perfect kitchen for your family, take a lifestyle inventory. This is a process where you answer questions to understand what will be the most important needs specific to your family for the new space. It will help you and your designer to incorporate important details into your plan.


  • Consider cooking habits: One cook or two? Baker? Left-handed? Do you do dishes as you cook? Lots of Gadgets? Buy in Bulk? One oven or two?

  • Consider eating habits: Family gatherings? Everyone for themselves? Eat outdoors? Need morning sunshine? Entertaining?

  • Other Considerations: Flat screen TV in kitchen? Computer or home office needs? Homework? Laundry? Recycling? Will the family grow? Older relatives? Handicap Accessibility requirements?

All of these are things to consider when making a decision on whether and how to remodel your kitchen. Work with a designer or use a remodeling design software that will take into account the important specific needs of your family.


Hot Trends for Today’s Kitchens

For a remodel to add value at resale, you must consider current needs and trends. So what are the hot for trends for kitchens today?

  • Open to Family Room or Great RoomCustom cabinetry in a variety of heights with lots of moldings and unique woods…Maple and Cherry are preferred to Oak.

  • Retro-look Appliances with Energy Star ratings.

  • Energy saving induction cook tops separate from ovens.

  • Ceramic tile back splashes.Green flooring choices like bamboo, cork and eucalyptus.

  • Sinks with instant hot water systems.

  • Pantries and abundant, easy access storage.

  • Multiple types of lighting (bright to work, indirect for mood). Avoid track lighting.

  • Windows for Natural LightQuartz-based granite-like product like Cambria, Silstone and Zodiac, for counters and islands, as health conscious people trend away from granite. Too expensive to do the whole kitchen in quartz? Consider just the island in the expensive stuff and do the rest of the kitchen counter in a complimentary colored laminate.

Stick to Your Budget

It can be easy to get caught up in the remodeling process and go over budget. Take time from the start to reflect on your family’s needs and reasons for the remodel. Consider options that make the most sense for your family, budget and neighborhood. Make certain that the kitchen isn’t designed and constructed at a quality far beyond the value of the rest of the home. Remember remodeling for family use tends to cost more than a remodel for resale.

If remodeling specifically to put your home on the market, go for the minor remodel and take into consideration the quality and condition of the rest of home. Remember you will not recoup 100% of your investment. The changes are being made to make the house more saleable in a down market. A good REALTOR® will give you the best advice as to what is necessary and what is over the top. If you are in an upscale neighborhood where homebuyers will expect high-end quality, don’t make discount-store decisions. Likewise, if your home is in an area of modest or lower value homes, skip the granite and go for the laminate to replace the counters. Understanding the market place you live in will help make the best choices to recoup the most from your investment.

Spending a little extra time in the planning stage can reduce the headaches and heartaches of a construction project that does not meet expectations. Taking your time will allow you to make the wise decisions that add value to your most important financial investment, your home.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/