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Renovation Rock Stars: Kitchen Edition

This article was originally published in Think Realty Magazine, October 2017 issue. To read the digital version of the magazine sign-up for a free membership.

The Renovation Begins

Ever watched one of those “reality” real estate shows and thought to yourself, “I could do so much better, for so much less! And why are they hanging that hideous wallpaper in a rental property anyway?”

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, at every Think Realty event, we meet hundreds of real estate investors doing incredible renovations and rehabs fully worthy of a television feature. While Think Realty Magazine does not have its own reality show just yet, we have managed to do something reality-television worthy: We’ve settled the great “kitchen vs. bathroom debate” once and for all…or at least until next quarter’s data comes in.

For 2017, both major and minor kitchen remodels beat immediate ROI for bathroom remodels according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value report. Furthermore, kitchen “face-lifts,” which involve painting, refinishing surfaces, and upgrading appliances, often yield higher returns than full redesigns.

In a recent renovation (Kitchen 2 in this feature), Corinne Tesh, a professional interior designer as well as full-time real estate investor and co-owner of Citygate homes, elected to use hardwood floors as part of her remodel even though they were more expensive than her other alternatives. Hardwoods offer fantastic ROI and are likely to attract more serious buyers (USA Today found that more than half of home buyers stated that they were willing to pay more for hardwood flooring on sight), but they are substantially more expensive than laminate flooring.

“My main consideration for flooring in the kitchen is the price point of the home. If you’re dealing with a higher-end home, you have to go with tile or hardwood for sure,” Tesh observed. However, she added, “Mid- to lower-end homes can do well with a really great vinyl that looks just like tile at about one-third the price.”

Similarly, kitchen countertop choice is of vital importance when it comes to rehabbing since investors must balance high-end looks like marble and granite with their bottom line. Tesh has a hard rule about when to replace countertops: “If I change out the cabinets, I always replace the countertop with granite and a tile backsplash. If the budget allows, I select a higher-grade granite for a ‘wow-factor’ when you immediately enter the kitchen.”

Speaking of cabinets, Tesh looks to comparable sales in the area to make a final decision between replacing and refinishing, and she has some tips for updating old cupboards without replacing them. “If I paint the existing cabinets, I always paint inside and out, replace the hardware, and install crown molding,” she said. “But if the budget allows, I always replace. In today’s market, most people love open concepts. I have been known to knock down a wall or two or three to make that happen!”

Your kitchen remodel could be the next Renovation Rock Star. Visit ThinkRealty.com/contest for full details on contest participation, judging, and what you could win! Your kitchen remodels will be posted on Think Realty’s social media platforms for a two-week voting period. The top three remodels will be featured not only on the website, but also in the next issue of Think Realty Magazine.