How an Appraiser Can Help With Home Renovation Decisions

David Deem

Are you considering making a big change to your home? Maybe adding a deck, replacing the roof or expanding your kitchen? One of the hardest parts of deciding whether or not to move forward on a home reno project is determining the return on your investment in terms of your home’s value. Here’s where an appraiser may be able to help.

According to the Appraisal Institute—a national, professional association of real estate appraisers—homeowners should choose wisely when it comes to renovations in order to maximize return. The right upgrades can pay dividends when it comes time to sell your home, helping your home sell more quickly and for the greatest possible price. Smart home renovations can also help drive up the values of homes nearby, increasing the overall market value of your neighborhood.

One of the most common mistakes to avoid is “over-improving,” says the Appraisal Institute. Embarking on renovations that are above and beyond what would be appropriate in your neighborhood can ultimately detract from the value of your home.

This is why enlisting the opinion of a real estate appraiser can help guide your decision. Professional real estate appraisers have a deep knowledge of your local market as well as the types of improvements that most boost a home’s value. The Appraisal Institute recommends that homeowners make sure their improvements meet community standards, reflect neighborhood norms and comply with local housing codes.

According to Remodeling magazine's most recent Cost vs. Value report, the projects with the highest expected return on investment are manufactured stone veneer, garage door replacement and minor kitchen remodel. Other projects with potential payoffs, according to the report, are siding replacement, window replacement and deck addition.

Homeowners should also consider how long they intend to stay in the home to help guide the size and investment of their home renovation project. The longer you’re in your home, the better the chance for a return on your investment, so if you’re planning to move soon, a substantial renovation may not be the best course of action.

Also consider the advantage of green renovations. By purchasing an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for a home, the owner may be eligible for a federal tax credit based on EPA-established guidelines.

If you’re unsure about moving forward on a renovation, consider working with an appraiser. Appraisers can perform a feasibility study, in which the appraiser analyzes a property, weighs the cost of rehabilitation and provides an estimate of the property's value both before and after the improvement. This information could help you make the right decision.

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