By Tonya M. Williams
Tonya M. Williams
AS I PULL into the
driveway of a cute
Craftsman bungalow, I grab my Star-bucks and listing
paperwork and take
a moment to survey
the front of the
home: corner lot,
the grass is neatly
edged, although the
gutters need cleaning. So far I am pleased with
the curb appeal.
As the real estate expert on HGTV’s
Designed to Sell Atlanta edition, I am used to
sizing up a home in an instant. I also own a
staging and décor firm and have been a
Realtor in Atlanta for almost 10 years. As
a result, I’ve become an expert on how to
transform a plain house into one that’s
designed to sell.
I’ve always wondered, however, why homeowners will live uncomfortably with the quirks
of their house, then literally pull out the
kitchen sink and remodel/replace everything
only when they are ready to sell. I’ve seen this
livingspace and can be relatively inexpensive to
build. Surprisingly, the addition of a deck has
an 82 to 100 percent ROI depending on the
region where the home is located.
pattern of “decorate and depart” remain constant—until the third and fourth quarter of
2008, when the housing market softened.
Today I see a positive trend that finds
homeowners investing money into improvements and replacement projects with the
intention of remaining in the home to enjoy
the new upgrades. When the market picks up
and the time comes for them to sell—these
improvements will add value to the home and
the owners will actually be able to use and
enjoy the improvements in the meantime.
The following are my top upgrades that
give the greatest ROI and enjoyment/use factor for the homeowner. But remember,
improvements don’t have to be major projects. My rule is: if you can see, sit or stand on
it, it qualifies as a worthwhile project.
Sizing up the job
Curb appeal is not an option; it is a necessity. Realtors and buyers rarely, if ever, stop to
view a poorly maintained home. I recommend
looking at your home as a Realtor or a potential
buyer would. Start upgrades on the exterior of
the home—roof, gutters, fascia boards, front
door, garage doors, driveway. Fix any existing or
potential problems with the above items; they
are essential to achieving curb appeal.
Kitchen remodels, bath remodels and deck
additions typically give the highest return on
investment (ROI). In regions where there is a
high premium on outdoor activity and favor-
Upgrade and update
Painting is an inexpensive way to give a
room a complete face-lift. However, lack of
surface preparation is the most common mistake I encounter. The taping, caulking and
sanding is just as important as selecting a great
paint color. I can tell when a room was painted
without the proper prep work. The lines and
trim are wavy, not crisp, the finish is usually
wrong and there is often shine-through of the
previous paint color. A bad paint job is noticeable; if the walls require extensive prep work,
hire a professional.
Updated appliances and fixtures bring a
fresh, clean look to a home. They are energy-efficient and modernize kitchen, bath and bedroom areas instantly. In addition to new
appliances, I love simple upgrades such as
replacing worn-out barstools and installing
new lighting to spice up a kitchen.
TONYA M. WILLIAMS
Updating a bath can be as simple as
installing a low-flow toilet and showerhead,
hanging a new shower curtain and replacing
the vanity. Kitchens, baths and bedrooms are
high-traffic areas that should look good, be
comfortable and be user-friendly.
Windows are the eyes to a home. I recommend thermal pane, double-hung replacement
Subtle changes can have a
dramatic effect on the comfort, style and livability of
every room in the house—and
can contribute to resale value.
The Costco Connection
Whether you’re planning to sell your home
or just spruce it up, Costco warehouses and
Costco.com have furniture, home improvement partners, Special Order kiosks and
other services to assist you.