8 surprising real-estate tips

  • The Starbucks effect. Take two identical homes sold in 1997. One near Starbucks would have sold for an average of $137,000, while the same home without a Starbucks would have sold for $102,000. Fast-forward 15 years: the average US home appreciated 65 percent to $168,000, but the property next to Starbucks skyrockets 96 percent to $269,000.
  • All renovations are not created equal. The greatest return for your investment is a mid-range bathroom remodel, a $3,000 job that returns $1.71 for every dollar spent. The worst home improvements for value are kitchen remodeling and finishing a basement. A top-of-the-line kitchen reno will cost you $22,000, and you’ll only get about $0.51 back for every $1 you spend.
  • Use the right words in a listing. Avoid “unique,” “TLC,” “investment” and “potential” — these could lower sale prices by as much as 7 percent. But words like “luxurious” for bottom-tier homes and “captivating” for top-tier homes could add 8.2 percent to your home’s value. Longer, more-detailed listings often sell for more.