You will find many reports about the return of your money when you invest in a new kitchen, and those reports provide good guidelines. Since I deal with buyers every day I hear what they say, and for many people, a kitchen that has a serious WOW factor can make the deal. A high percentage of buyers that I work with mention the kitchen in their wish list. For some, it's simply a large kitchen, and for others it's an updated kitchen that they don't have to improve. Those are the expectations, but what happens when they are blown away by a kitchen? All bets are off!
A home purchase definitely has an emotional element to it, no matter how rational the buyers may be going in to it. If you can get them teary eyed about the kitchen, you're winning. Many people want to avoid having to renovate a kitchen because of the expected costs or perceived amount of work and effort. Not everyone has a good enough sense of design to be able to put together a fabulous and functional kitchen layout, but many can appreciate your good taste and clever design.
So, what are buyers looking for? Functionality. But not just in the work space, I mean functionality for today's lifestyle. For those who like to entertain, the kitchen has to be a show piece and offer space or seating for party guests and possibly a walk out to the yard. Young families want to be able to keep an eye on the little ones while they prepare meals in the kitchen, so an open-concept to the family room is key. It seems that for many people, everything happens in the kitchen, so it is an integral part of the lifestyle of the owner.
Backsplashes get a lot of attention, so picking current material and style is important, but remember to make it practical and easy to keep clean. As for appliances, it seems everyone wants stainless steel. In high end homes, the appliances must be of a certain calibre so don't scrimp on those if you are renovating the kitchen.
Storage space. For the fast paced lifestyle it's a must have, you want to be able to quickly put things away without having to solve a puzzle. Plenty of storage space is a must have in today's kitchen. Convenience is key and space-saving options are a good investment.
Lighting is important, under cabinet, work-space lighting, and recessed lights, but also a statement piece that defines the attitude of the kitchen can take a bland kitchen to WOW.
When you can't invest the money to redesign the layout, consider buying new cabinet doors and hardware. This can be very inexpensive and very effective. Quite often, a floor tile is outdated or broken, so investing in new tiles can make a dramatic difference, and adding a complimentary back splash can go a long way too. Then look at your table and chairs...can they be spruced up a bit, painted or maybe swapped out for a more eclectic look? Try to find some unique conversation pieces to build your colour palette around. Throw in a unique light overhead and voila, you have updated your kitchen to be cute and welcoming, tugging on the heart strings of potential buyers.
Home shopping with buyers has reinforced what I know to be the priority for home buyers: cleanliness. A clean, but possibly older bathroom will not deter that many buyers. They see the bathroom as something they can easily fix compared to a kitchen. A looming kitchen renovation can deter many buyers, but if the bathroom is clean and in good condition you might be ok. It just doesn't seem to be as overwhelming as a kitchen renovation.
The way your house looks on the outside is very important. One thing everyone should keep in mind is that buyers are driving by your home to see if it's the kind of place they want to see. In other words, it's your home's first impression to a multitude of anonymous buyers, and realtors. If I drive by a home that is ill-kempt on the outside I may not be interested in taking people to see it. My impression is that they have neglected things on the outside, so they will have neglected things on the inside too. Besides that, a home that has beautiful accents outside--soffit lighting, tended gardens, potted plants and manicured lawn will invite more people in to see it. The more buyers who come in, the better it is for the seller. I call those homes happy homes. They seem to be filled with love and joy. That's what I want for my buyers, and that's what most people want, even if they have not articulated it. And, believe it or not, a charming exterior will pull on heart strings of buyers who may be persuaded to overlook an out of date kitchen or bath.