In the midst of an unpredictable (though undeniably recovering) real estate market, one thing is for certain: it’s a buyer’s world. Affordability rates are at record highs, mortgage rates at record lows and, as more owners begin to place their properties on the market after years of waiting for improved conditions, inventory is more plentiful than ever.
This doesn’t mean that homeowners hoping to sell in the near future are without options. In fact, because so few new homes are being built, contractors have become increasingly eager to find work, meaning the costs of home renovations are lower than ever. And while condo owners ready to sell now may find it difficult to hold off placing their unit on the market, it may prove exceedingly advantageous to invest in some improvements first, thereby boosting the eventual price of their unit and allowing them to wait until selling conditions are restored.
According to Remodeling magazine, home improvement costs have decreased dramatically over the course of the past three years, dropping by 6.9 Percent in 2009, 2.3 Percent in 2010, and roughly 2 Percent last year. It comes as no surprise, then, that in the fourth quarter of 2011 the National Association of Home Builders reported that its members saw remodeling activity reach its highest point in the past five years.
Far from having no control over the selling price of their home, Chicago condo owners have the opportunity to improve their chances of fetching a higher price for their unit by investing in interior improvements. While waiting for the real estate market to shift in favor of sellers, owners should think critically about what upgrades would drastically improve the quality of their condos. But keep the focus on improvements that will draw in potential buyers.
This means opting for a renovation that will make your condo appear move-in ready, rather than glamorous upgrades that may actually scare away budget-conscious buyers. Beautiful, updated kitchens and baths will surely attract buyers, but it’s not necessary to go overboard with unnecessary architectural flourishes and granite countertops.
Most important is simply to ensure that your condo meets the standards of similar units in your neighborhood. If your unit is either outdated or too flashy, it will stick out like a sore thumb amongst other nearby condos. You may want to consult a real estate agent, builder or housing expert to make sure you’re investing money in the right places, and not just throwing it out the window.