Small Investment Big Return
A Case Study: $250,000 Home

INTRODUCTION

This home sold in 5 days, and it sold for over asking price. It wasn’t in the best neighborhood and had some negatives — outdated bathrooms, mis-matched tile, and it was dark inside – but it had a great kitchen and floor plan.

You will see some examples of the “small investment, big returns” that made a difference.  They weren’t hard and they weren’t expensive. Remember, every home is different but many of these problems/solutions apply to most.

Hope you find this helpful.

Your Jacksonville, FL Realtor,

 

Gunilla Craven

8539 Gate Parkway W.
Suite 1718, Jacksonville, FL 32216
904-333-5194 / OakStreetRealty.com

The Magic of Paint

Before

After

Problem:  Typical of many family rooms, this fireplace was the focal point. When built in 1990, red brick fireplaces were very popular.  Now they look dated.

Solution:  Paint!  It’s inexpensive and easy to do.  We even used the same color as the walls.  The owner couldn’t believe that this simple fix made such a dramatic difference.

Note:  Here is a good tutorial from Sherwin-Williams for painting a brick-and-mortar fireplace:  https://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/inspiration/project-center/how-to-paint-a-fireplace

Appliances Need to Be the Same Color

Before

After

Problem: All the appliances were stainless steel except for the white refrigerator. It was an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful kitchen.

Solution: The owner found a perfectly good used stainless-steel refrigerator on Craig’s List for $200. It didn’t have to be the same brand, just the color.

Note: The other option was to remove the refrigerator and not replace it. Having no refrigerator is better than having one that ruins the look.

Easy Fix for Damaged Mirrors

Before

After

Problem:  A water-damaged mirror (blackened edges) made the owner’s bathroom very unappealing. 

Solution:  Trim mirror with decorative molding from Home Depot/Lowes and attach it using special adhesive for mirrors.  Treat it as you would a regular picture, the molding shouldn’t be too skimpy nor overwhelming.

Note:  If you don’t have a handyman or carpentry skills yourself, there are online stores that offer mirror trim kits:  https://www.mirrormate.com/pages/makeovers

Shower Gets a Makeover

Before

After

Problem:  Over time showers get dirty and normal cleaning doesn’t seem to work.

Solution:  There are two ways to handle this:

  • Professional cleaning by carpet and tile company. Acid washing the tile and grout in several rooms is reasonably priced (In this house, cleaning tile in 2 bathrooms and floor tile in the large family room cost $150.)
  • You can clean them the old-fashioned way. Start with an equal mixture of Dawn and warm/hot vinegar. Apply and leave on until you take a shower. There is a lot of soap so be careful.  Follow up with Bar Keepers Friend on areas that still need work:  plumbing fixtures, glass door, and floor.

Note:  I LOVE Bar Keepers Friend. Unlike many cleansers like Comet, it is safe to use on most surfaces  (but you should still test it first.)

Chips in White Porcelain Sinks and Tubs

Problem: Ugly chip in porcelain sink. (Not shown here.)

Solution: Instead of replacing the sink, we used touch-up paint specially made for porcelain. Before you go running off to the store, remember that there are many shades of whites.

Note: My favorite touch-up product is sōto. I ordered a free color chart from sōto https://www.getsoto.com/ to find the right shade of white. It was a perfect match.

Good Lighting Is Critical

Problem: Lighting from incandescent bulbs made the dining room look dark and dreary. (This photo was taken after the lightbulbs were changed to LED.)

Solution: The biggest gift to home sellers has been LED. While a chandelier like this may only accept a 25-watt chandelier bulb, it can now take a 375 lumen LED bulb. Between natural light and light from 5 LED lightbulbs, the room became brighter and more inviting.

Note: Learning how to go from incandescent to LED lighting has been a major headache, but worth it. These charts will give you an idea of how to calculate lumens (brightness) and temperature (kelvins.)

Mulch for a Clean Look

Problem: This had been a rental so the landscaping was almost non-existent except for some shrubs and grass. Weeds/bare ground under the tree and bushes made the home look messy.

Solution: Adding mulch around the tree and under the bushes resulted in a neat and tidy look. Red mulch gets a lot of negative press, but in this case, the color balanced the house and made it “pop” in the photographs.

It’s Okay to Be Blue

Choosing exterior paint colors can be tricky and blue is not usually the first choice people make. What made this work?

  • Both adjoining homes are a light, neutral color.
  • The house was freshly painted, so all the nicks, wood damage, and discolorations were repaired and looked clean.
  • The color was compatible with the roof. It would have never worked if the roof had been beige, like the one on the left.
  • White trim lightened-up the blue siding, while the contrast emphasized architectural features such as the arched windows.

 

Blue Again

I understand why the homeowners painted the back porch the same color as the exterior. It was cost effective to buy the same color, especially since it also had to be exterior paint.

It would have been better to tone it down with white furniture and accessories or use a different color. But this is one of those things that buyers overlook when everything else checks out.