Locals know there’s nothing minor league about our state capital, Harrisburg. Known as a “small city with a big city feel,” Harrisburg remains a magnet for singles, young families, and retired couples—keeping the local property market hot even as prices cool elsewhere.
That long-term value is great news for local homeowners. Continuously strong real estate prices mean you can swing big on home improvements, knowing every dollar you spend on upgrades will be well worth it.
Let’s look at how to build equity in your home by making smart choices about home improvements.
Choosing Home Improvements That Build Equity
Even if you’re not considering selling anytime soon, home improvements and maintenance are always a smart bet. The right upgrades will add value to your family’s life today, and with demand for property in Dauphin Country set to remain high, they should yield big dividends down the line as the value of your home—and your stake in it—increases.
At the same time, it pays to be smart about the home improvements you choose to spend your hard-earned money on. While some projects are safe bets that reliably boost equity by adding real value to your property, you can also strike out on projects that suck up cash today and might even damage the long-term desirability of your property.
So, whether you’re swinging for the Senators or the Nationals, here are some home run hits, safe bunts, and smart steals that will keep the fans happy and your equity scoreboard ticking over—as well as a few curveballs that could leave you crying.
Home Runs: Six Smash-Hit Upgrades
Of course you’d like to knock it out of the park with a brand-new kitchen, but a renovation that costs more than a car is not within everyone’s reach. Here are some surprisingly simple and affordable projects that offer great equity returns on your investment.
Roof replacement — Protect your home and save on energy costs while knowing most buyers will be thinking the same. While prices scale with your square footage, replacing a roof can cost as little as $12,000, and whatever you spend will likely be recouped since it will add to your overall property value.
Refinish hardwood floors — Extremely popular hardwood floors add massive value to a home. Refinish your floors today for around $2,500 for an average home. You can expect to recover all of that, even if your house value does not increase.
Upgrade your insulation — Increase comfort and cut heating and cooling costs with this out-of-sight upgrade. While you could spend $2,000 or more for an average home, experts say you could eventually recover up to 95% of your up-front cost.
Add stone veneer — Put a good face on spending with a new house facade. While quality materials could cost $4,000 or more, you’ll protect your home and boost curb appeal, and you could recover 90% or more of your investment.
New wood floors — With a range of versatile and affordable wood flooring options on the market, this choice will appeal both to your family and future buyers. Expect to pay $5,000 and up for most homes, with at least 90% of that recoverable over time through the increased market value of your home.
New garage door — Raise the stakes with this surprisingly simple upgrade. You’ll impress the neighbors as well as future buyers with this outsized upgrade. With a good door costing $2,300 and up, you could expect to recover about 87% of your investment over time.
New siding — First impressions matter. While exterior siding may not make much difference to your lifestyle, it will protect your home and impress potential buyers. While you could spend $12,000 or more on an average home, expect to recover up to 83% of your outlay when you sell.
Safe Bunts: Five Smart Plays for the Team
Your family’s living experience should be a priority. Here are five sensible projects that will add comfort and convenience to your home today while offering a reliable equity return on investment.
Basement conversion — While the cost will depend on the size of your home, an average conversion runs at $18,400 and adds up to 75% of that to the value of your house.
Home office — A professional home office conversion runs at around $100/square foot for an average cost of around $15,000 and can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home.
Improved floor plan — While estimates vary, removing one or more walls to add more usable space can add significant appeal to your home.
Upgrade your laundry room — Improving access to your washer and dryer for as little as $8,000 creates a major draw for growing families. Plus, it will make this chore more enjoyable for you too!
Replace your HVAC — If your heating and AC are getting old, replacing them now will improve efficiency and add value to your home when it comes time to sell.
Smart Steals: Four Quick Moves to Bring It Home
These upgrades can make a real difference in your home’s aesthetic, and many of them you can do yourself in a weekend—so block off the time and get to it!
Paint — Paint is cheap and a splash of new color can transform any space. Whether you paint just one room or the entire interior, you’ll attract buyers with every coat.
Molding, fixtures, and lighting — Small, inexpensive details from door handles to curtains can make a seemingly ordinary space a little more special.
Overhaul cabinets — Replacing the doors, handles, or hardware on cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom is a great way to make a big difference to these rooms for very little cost.
New windows — Improve your energy bill while adding curb appeal. You can update older windows a few at a time and ultimately greatly improve your home’s energy efficiency and curb appeal.
Swing and a Miss: Four Potential Home Improvement Strikeouts
Even in a desirable neighborhood with reliably strong home prices, some home projects can land you in the dugout. Tempting pet projects and unnecessary upgrades can cost you big and leave you trailing in the equity stakes.
Removing bedrooms — Sure, knocking down a wall to increase light or to add usable space makes sense, but the number of bedrooms in your home is a key determinant of its value. Therefore, think long and hard before you take away any bedrooms.
In-ground pools — While these may be attractive features for owners, many buyers could see a pool as a safety hazard or a maintenance nightmare.
Luxury upgrades — One person’s luxury is another person’s styling gaffe. Buyers might not be willing to pay for fine finishes they see as unnecessary add-ons.
Garage conversions — Unless you live in a densely populated city where living space is at a premium, garage conversions are usually a bad idea. In most areas, a buyer is more likely to want to use the garage to park a car or use it for storage.
Tap the Power of Home Equity
Baseball and state politics aside, Harrisburg and Dauphin County have so much to offer in terms of housing. From chic city apartments to spacious suburbs, great shopping, fantastic restaurants, and Appalachian outdoor escapes all within easy reach, owning a home in Harrisburg is a smart investment.
With local housing demand set to remain high, it’s a great time to use the existing value of your property to fund strategic home improvements through a home equity loan or equity line of credit.
Belco Community Credit Union offers our members flexibility and loan terms that fit their needs, including:
- Low fixed rates
- Home equity loan terms up to 180 months
- Home loans up to 100% of your home’s value
- Generous terms and no prepayment penalties on home equity lines of credit
Click below to learn how Belco Community Credit Union’s home equity loan products can help you make the most of the home you are living in.