Remodeling in a hot market can be tricky. You love where you live, but you also recognize that your home is an investment that will pay off nicely in the next seven or eight years. What's the best way to customize your house so it matches your personal aesthetic without falling behind future real estate trends?
That's the question we put to Terry McCoy, the senior training and development specialist at Amplify Credit Union and a veteran renovator.
When he's not helping train the next generation of real estate professionals, McCoy spends his evenings and weekends making much-needed upgrades to Austin homes and putting them back on the market. This experience gives McCoy a unique perspective on how to treat your house as both a comfortable living space and a long-term investment.
Before starting any new home renovation project, McCoy makes a point of touring model homes in new developments around Austin. This offers him a first-hand look at design trends that will be an essential part of the resale market in a few years' time. If given the opportunity, he'll also chat with owner-builders about the vision behind the home.
"I'll ask them, 'Where did that come from? How much was it? How many other builders are doing it?'" McCoy says. This approach helps keep his renovations grounded on their resale value — if something he wants to try feels out of rhythm with new construction trends, he will stop and rethink his approach.
This practice also allows him to make more informed decisions about both the livability and the marketability of a property. Take bathrooms, for example.
"The common trend right now is no bath tub, big shower," McCoy explains, "but five or 10 years from now, people may regret that decision."
A sudden illness or injury in your household can raise accessibility issues with your stand-up shower, and even if you decide to sell in a few years' time, you may lose bidders who live with children or elderly family members. This is why McCoy suggests making changes that can be reversed at minimal cost and effort, allowing you to balance short-term wants against long-term needs.
"Try to do something that could easily be retrofitted," he suggests.
In McCoy's experience, one of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make is starting with large, structural changes instead of smaller adjustments. Before making pricey changes to the house itself — knocking out walls or ripping up flooring — McCoy recommends exploring simpler solutions for altering your living space.
"Look for things that may not be permanent," he says, pointing to closet organizers and attachable shelving as ways to open up a space. "People always say they need a bigger closet, when, in reality, they could spend $1,000 and double or triple their space just by adding an organizer."
This meets your demands as a homeowner without negatively impacting your home's long-term prospects.
One surprising source of inspiration? Tiny homes.
"Not everyone could live that way," McCoy admits, "but if you look at tiny houses and how they organize storage, it can change how you approach your own space. Rather than thinking in terms of big changes, you start exploring the equipment you can add to existing spaces to change the layout."
For less ambitious homeowners, McCoy recommends planning a trip to Ikea or The Container Store for inspiration. The products and display models will often get the creative juices flowing.
And if you are thinking about making major changes — replacing cabinets, moving walls — McCoy recommends taking a neutral approach.
"You can't go wrong with either white or dark," he says, suggesting that homeowners turn to smaller items that can easily be changed out for a splash of color and texture. "Flooring is the same way. Go as neutral as you can possibly go, so in five years' time, people don't walk in and go, oh my, where did this come from?"
There is one safe option for homeowners itching to make big, bold changes: a bucket of paint.
"Paint is cheap," says McCoy. "If you want to go wild, paint costs you $100. And if you don't like it, you get a new color and you paint right over it."