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Top 4 home improvements for first-time homebuyers

Posted on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 3:02:51 PM

Nearly all new homeowners have something they want to change with their homes. Even so, many opt to wait awhile before starting a home improvement project. The trick then becomes learning when it is the right time to begin a home improvement project - right after buying or a bit down the road.

To help shed some light on this dilemma, Home Loan Investment Bank's Rodney Gaumitz shared some home improvement tips for new homeowners.

"For a first-time homeowner, there is no real right or wrong time to begin a home improvement project," explained Gaumitz. "It really comes down to when they feel comfortable with taking on the project. Once you decide you're ready to tackle it, that is the best time."

Whether utilizing home improvement financing or paying out of pocket, Gaumitz noted that there are some projects that have a quick, effective impact on the home. These include:

1. Painting
According to Gaumitz, painting costs about $30 to $60 per gallon of paint. The benefit is an instant makeover.

"Interior painting can bring so much to a home," he pointed out. "We've all been in the homes where the paint colors were a turn-off. But don't let someone else's taste steer you away from purchasing a great home. Paint can be changed for little money."

Best of all, painting is a great weekend project, with only a couple of gallons on average needed. Get friends and family involved, too.

"You'll be surprised how much painting four people can do if you do at least one hour of prepping in each room (sanding, spackling and taping)," Gaumitz explained. "Visit the major paint manufacturers' websites for help with color choices."

2. Updated Flooring
According to Gaumitz, the cost for updated flooring is about $600 to $800 per room. The benefit is instantly updated decor.

"Whether it's carpeting that needs to be scrubbed or replaced, or hardwood floors that look as though the previous owner's cat used them as scratching posts, most homebuyers want to update flooring before moving in," he added. "The cost of carpeting ranges by quality and design but on average, it costs anywhere from $3.34 to $4.50 per square foot. So if your family room measures 15' by 12', you'll spend around $600 to $800. Not bad for achieving the look of a brand new room."

If you've already got hardwood floors, consider sanding and varnishing. It's often cheaper than carpeting, Gaumitz stated. Another option is to have carpets cleaned, either via a professional or as a DIY project.

3. Updating the Bathroom
According to Gaumitz, the cost for an updated bathroom is about $200 to $400. The benefits include increased home appeal and fast turn-around time - often done in a weekend or less.

"What most people don't realize is a simple remodel to a bathroom or kitchen can be so easy and inexpensive," he stressed. "Whether you are looking to replace a leaky faucet or change out an outdated vanity, it can be very affordable. A simple plumbing fixture (i.e. a faucet or sink) can change the look and function to the bathroom immediately."

He added that a complete bathroom remodel can cost between $9,000 to $16,000, but you can start a whole lot smaller, if need be. Best of all, plenty of changes are DIY-friendly, like a new vanity or a pedestal sink.

4. Lighting
According to Gaumitz, the cost of updated lighting is under $10 for a box of six light bulbs, or between $30 and $250 for lamps or fixtures. The benefits include brighter rooms and improved ambiance.

"If a room seems very dull and you think even painting won't make a difference, one thing that buyers don't think about is lighting," Gaumitz explained. "Replacing old light bulbs with brighter ones (within the maximum wattage a fixture will allow) and actually changing some fixtures out completely will open and brighten up a room instantly. You would be amazed how simply taking a floor lamp and changing it out to a wall- or ceiling-hung light can do to open up and add space to a room. That, coupled with a nice paint job, can completely transform a room in no time."

Finally, Gaumitz emphasized that a home improvement project shouldn't deter you from buying a home. Be prepared, figure out the costs and dive right in.

"The process can be a lot to take in, but preparing yourself ahead of time and knowing what something can cost can really put things into perspective for first-time homebuyers," he concluded. "Then, instead of clicking your heels three times and dreaming of being home, you can sit back and relax and say 'there's no place like home.'"