Real Estate Roundtable: Tips for Refeathering the Nest


Spring is in the air and that often means home improvement projects abound. We asked some of the top brokers what advice they offer homeowners about how to best invest in their home. What areas of their home are worth upgrading so it will pay off if they eventually choose to sell?


Thomas McCloskey, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
“When making decisions on what to spend money on, I suggest considering resale value, the marketability of the improvements and personal utilization. For example, on the North Fork and in the Hamptons, pools are in big demand in the COVID market. Homes with pools sell and/or rent faster than those that do not. Painting gives a seller the best bang for the buck. It can return much more than spent. I suggest looking at the Benjamin Moore Gentle Whites or Sherwin-Williams Perfect Whites catalogues for interiors. Entranceway remodeling and landscaping also have a good return on investment (ROI). Minor bathroom and kitchen remodeling also has great benefits to property utilization and resale value.”


Penelope Moore, Saunders & Associates
“The expression ‘curb appeal’ may sound like something out of an HGTV show but it does mean a lot. Scrutinizing the exterior of a home for issues like wood rot and fascia and masonry needing maintenance are important for the health of a home. Together with landscaping, this always pays off. For interiors, investing in an efficiently laid-out kitchen and updated bathrooms goes a long way, even if high-end appliances are not installed. On a smaller scale for instant gratification, replacing light fixtures, door and cabinet hardware can create a new look in one weekend. Some homeowners who are either thinking of selling or have just purchased a home, are easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of options online, so I often suggest, which can give good ideas in many categories and styles that translate well to homes in our market.”


Bradlee Phillips, Nest Seekers International
“I believe the most important thing a homeowner can do when making upgrades to their home is to try to think ahead to what the specific upgrades will look like when it’s time to sell. Staying on top of regular maintenance is always most important and can prevent more costly repairs down the road. Unless you’re looking to maximize rental income now, it’s probably best to wait as long as possible to make cosmetic updates such as the kitchen and baths to keep your home from feeling dated when it comes time to sell. On the other hand, a wise investment earlier on that appreciates in value as it matures over time would be to upgrade the landscaping, focusing on curb appeal and the backyard. By properly maintaining the grounds over several years, your home will stand out from the others on the market by offering a priceless park-like setting. Since land value appreciates at such a high rate in the Hamptons, there are many property specific factors to take into consideration. If you’re unsure about investing money in your home, you should reach out to your real estate broker first and ask them for advice.”


Angela Boyer-Stump, Sotheby’s International Realty
“First impressions are everything. As the sun gets higher in the sky and we have more daylight to show, the entrance to a home becomes the focus point. If an entry foyer needs to be painted, or if railings are looking weathered from the winter, this is the time to freshen them up. In addition, the garage doors to a home really make a statement about the care of a home. If they are dirty or peeling, clean and paint them, the same with window wells. A little soap and water and a small paint touch-up can add a cheerful bright feel. Power wash any buildup on stone, decks or siding. The results can be amazing.”


Judi Desiderio, Town & Country Real Estate
“There have been many studies on home improvement return on investment (ROI). Kitchens and bathrooms always score high. Keep in mind those are national studies and our micro markets don’t necessarily follow national trends. Only in the Hamptons is a 10-year-old home “outdated.” Once a home is over five years old, it needs a facelift. Considering that our designers and builders are constantly reinventing themselves and the classic Hamptons look. From timeless gracious estate homes to modern flat-roof wonders, we continue to see trends move and morph. Regardless, if you own the largest, newest home on the block or the smallest, sometimes teardown types, do improvements that will make you happy, and remember cleanliness is next to godliness. Inside and outside, a clean, manicured well-maintained home always shows best, and certainly is the nicest to reside in. If you are preparing your home for listing, a seasoned professional will walk you through the necessary steps to maximize your return. This usually includes decluttering, sprucing up the outside, whitewashing the interior and repair items where needed. If the scope of work is greater than that, you must analyze if the time, energy and money are worth the investment. We can help you with that as well. Staging is always a bonus. Each situation is different, just know what you want and what you are capable of achieving. Then the hardest part is getting the contractors for springtime.”


Jennifer Reiner, Hampton Estate Realty
“When making home improvements it’s advisable to stay away from trendy items and take a minimalistic approach. Focus on simple yet classic and you’ll, with no uncertainty, add value to your home. Knocking down a wall is always an option as open concept homes have great appeal in today’s market. Upgrading bathrooms and kitchens, adding a pool, home office or gym also adds value as a reflection of people spending more time at home. Finally, landscaping should be low maintenance. Simple floral plantings with privet hedges will add privacy and serenity to your outdoor area, which in today’s climate is being utilized now more than ever.”