When we discuss home improvements, we often look at upgrades that enhance curb appeal or other visual aspects of the home for potential buyers to fall in love with. But there are other ways to add value to your home that might not readily be seen, if at all. We call these "invisible home improvements," and they can be a big hit with potential buyers.
Here are four invisible improvements real estate investors should consider for their properties.
1. Land grading
According to HomeLight, more than 75% of real estate agents say landscaping can command 1% to 10% more than homes without a well-manicured lawn. But land grading goes far beyond simple curb appeal. When a yard is graded correctly, it draws water away from the foundation of the home. This is vital in hurricane-prone regions and a must for those in flood zones.
Potential homebuyers will be very happy to have this already done for them, though this is not likely something that will mean higher offers. However, if there's too much to be done to a yard to protect the home from water damage, buyers could simply walk away -- to a home that requires less work to maintain it.
A home's heating and cooling elements, known as the HVAC system, make for a comfortable living environment season after season. HomeLight.com says at least 87% of homes use air conditioning to keep things temperate.
Is it time for you to upgrade to central air if you've got wall units? Not necessarily. As long as the units you have in place are energy-efficient and in good working order, buyers should be -- quite literally -- cool with it.
3. Alarm/security system
Add a house alarm or security system to the "nice-to-have" list for homebuyers -- though don't expect them to make an offer on the spot because of it. If your property is in the luxury market, potential buyers will already expect there to be a state-of-the-art security system.
If you don't have one and are thinking of adding one, know there's definite value in having some type of security system in place. Insurance companies prefer to insure secure homes, and having a security alarm that's tied to a monitoring service can lower homeowners insurance premiums as much as 20%.
We've saved the least-sexy improvement on this list for last. Gutters, though visible, are completely utilitarian. And homebuyers are going to expect that yours are doing their job well. After all, 37% of homeowners have experienced water damage to their homes, and gutters can do a lot to prevent water from seeping into the roof or eroding the foundation.
If your gutters have seen better days, don't be surprised if a buyer will try to negotiate new ones into the sale price. Gutters might not completely save the (rainy) day, but they can help.
Marketability vs. value
There's a difference between the marketability of a property and its value. The value of the home is not the asking price; rather, it's the price the buyer is willing to pay for the home.
Marketability, on the other hand, is how ready your property is for sale. This is why turnkey properties are always such a draw. The fewer projects buyers have to do in order to live comfortably in the home from the get-go, the more interested they'll be.
The bottom line
Let's be clear: No one will be putting an offer on your home simply because of the shiny new gutters you've just installed. But potential buyers will be glad you did it. And buyers have to do less in order to move right in will possibly result in more interest in and eventually offers for your home.