What’s Our House Worth 4 Years Later?

October 24, 2017

We believe we should all love where we live.

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We recently passed the 4 year mark of living in our home and we have renovated almost every space in our house (see all the before and afters in one place, here). This winter, we have plans to finally renovate the master bath and give our own bedroom the same attention the other rooms have received.

Although we have no desire to sell our house, we were curious–what has all the work we’ve done added to the value? 

(see more of our entry makeover here.)

We bought our house 4 years ago for $235,000. It was the cheapest house on our block and needed the most work, too, although it was generally in great shape. Hiring a professional appraiser will cost around $500, but most real estate agents will give you a CMA (competitive market analysis) for FREE. It’s less detailed than an appraisal, but at times, it can be more accurate due to the knowledge a real estate agent has about what the market is currently doing and where your house is located.

(see more of the girls’ bathroom renovation here)

We called our realtor, Caleb Fullmer (for all you locals, he’s the best!), to give us an analysis of our home’s value and tell us what our home would be worth in today’s market. We didn’t tell him what we bought it for 4 years ago. He walked around, like a realtor would if they were going to help you list it (again! we’re not selling!), and he said our home would sell easily for mid-to-upper $300Ks! Chris jokingly said, “Time to sell!”

We picked his brain a little more on what helps a home value appraise for more or sell quicker. He said:

• Updating kitchen and bathrooms are definitely going to give you the most bang for your buck. (Can’t wait to get our bathroom updated!) Our kitchen, with the addition of a walk-in pantry, added the most value to our home than any other project.

(See more of our kitchen reno here)

• Lots of people have multiple rooms if not whole basements that are unfinished, finishing those will add serious value.

• Staging a home won’t necessarily help your home value but it will make your home sell for top market value and a lot quicker.

(see more of our basement family room renovation here)

• Home buyers like an updated master and master bathroom because that’s where the buyer will spend their time so if you have to pick and chose rooms due to budget update the master suite when selling. (So wait, don’t wait to do that very last? Haha). We have updated our bedroom a little bit, with new flooring, paint and fixtures.

• Paint and lighting are two inexpensive, easy ways to update and add value. (When we bought our house the whole main floor was nearly black and I wonder if they had just painted it, if it would have brought the value up?) Updating lighting is one of my favorite things to do!

Ep 48: Instagram

• The windows we added not only added value to our home (people love lots of light!) but because they are energy-efficient–they’re attractive to buyers for the cost savings, too.

• Central air-conditioning units are also reviewed by the appraiser, so if you own such a unit, change the filters and clear any debris. We added AC to our home last year, which definitely helped with the value.

• Pet and smoke odors negatively impact an evaluation, so take steps to eliminate these smells in order to raise the appraisal value.

• Landscaping adds to the overall appearance of your home, but overdone landscaping can diminish the value. Our outdoor areas we did, including the deck and playground area actually did help our value because the areas previously were cluttered and without a usable direction and now they are rejuvenated. He also mentioned that siding on a home adds to the property’s worth, so consider this improvement if your house is currently painted. If your house is already sided, make sure the siding is clean and in excellent condition.

• Where we were docked a little is turning one of the bedrooms downstairs into an office. It’s a necessity for us right now, but obviously, if we were trying to sell our home, we would make that a bedroom again.

All in all, over the past 4 years, we’ve added around $150K of value onto our home (Update: Chris and I just did a quick add-up of everything permanent to the house and we’ve put in right under $75K. So if we did sell, we’d get that back, plus at least $75K profit.) It was so enlightening to talk to a realtor about what actually goes into a home value. And now, we’re more motivated than ever to tackle our master bathroom this winter.


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What do you think?

  1. Your house would easily be $600-700k in Portland, Oregon. And that’s without knowing the sq ft. Such an amazing transformation!

  2. Susan Skilton says:

    Good afternoon-I’m hoping you could tell me how it has been to live with your lovely wood countertop-what do you actually do on it and what do you avoid? Would you do it again?

    I have marble and might give that a second thought On an island again-it’s lovely but etches like crazy.

  3. Tia says:

    Greetings from South Africa from a long time follower

    Question: are you updating your master bathroom in order to raise the selling price because you are intending to sell?
    Love your home, inside and outside – that is a really child friendly and creative space. But the outdoor play park seems to suggest to us that you are setting long-term and having your parents next door all sort of spell “settled”.

  4. Stephanie Reiner says:

    Want to hear something crazy? We bought our 3 bedroom teeny tiny condo in Oceanside, CA for just a smidge less than what you paid for your house. It’s probably a third of the size or smaller (just over 1k sf). A year later and without renovations included it’s already up to mid 300s! We just finished updating the kitchen so here’s hoping this is a good investment! ???????? Pros and cons of living in So Cal

    • Lisa says:

      Yup, we own a condo in Long Beach, CA, and our story is similar. We love watching our property values shoot up, but eventually our growing family will need more space. We’ll probably have to sell our place by the beach and go live inland.

  5. Monica says:

    I’m curious why your office isn’t still technically considered a bedroom? It still has the closet, doesn’t it? Is the desk now considered “built in”? Is that why? At any rate, seems like it would be pretty easy to turn it back into a bedroom.

  6. Sara Newell says:

    The difference is absolutely amazing… What a stunning house!! You don’t mention the carpeting in your buyer’s guide, and I love it. Who makes it?

  7. Julie says:

    Your guys house is seriously so beautiful! I’m curious, since I know as bloggers you get things given to you in partnerships if $75,000 is how much of your money you’ve used to renovate or how much total it cost whether you paid for it or not? Bryce and I are always intrigued by the thought of a fixer upper but renovating adds up quick! $75K for what you’ve done doesn’t seem bad at all though!!

    • Julia says:

      That includes everything, that we received as well. It doesn’t include any furnishings.

    • Suzanne says:

      Would love to see the breakdown of the 75K, so could get some idea of where, when and what to invest and/or try to DIY? I recall from reading that the recent deck and yard projects were around 15K each and the kitchen around 30K, I think, but would love to know about other costs of things – adding windows, new fixtures for bathrooms, wall to wall carpet and floor tiles -which I know you did yourself and how much you saved by doing it yourself? I am redoing a 1952 ranch, little by little, so have been paying specific attention to your projects for budget inspiration and for trying to decide what to attempt on my own (assembling ikea cabinets) and what to hire out (granite counter install) – your blog has bee so helpful!

  8. Lisa says:

    Congratulations guys, you have done an excellent job at updating your home. We just had our home appraised and it came at $240K that is a good jump since we bought it for only $29 just a little over a year ago. Needless to say we are very happy!

  9. Marysia says:

    Thanks for being so open and sharing! I’m always curious about resale value! It’s always at the back of my mind everytime we put value into our own home since you just never know when you may end up having to sell because of life circumstances or the fact that I can’t seem to stop looking at realtor!

  10. Michelle J says:

    That’s amazing! I think it’s so easy to leave the master bedroom and bathroom for last but it totally makes sense that those updated spaces would be better updated when selling.

  11. Emily Ward says:

    CANNOT wait to see the master bathroom come together!

  12. ChrisC says:

    Do you realize what your house would be worth in Florida?! A fortune! Minus the basement,of course.We don’t have basements here.And AC here is a must.Just had our house reappraised.Our original mortgage(40+ yrs ago) was for for 40K.Before we reno’d the master bedrrom and bath,and downstairs bath,the appraisal came in at 325K! Still have a bedroom and another bath to do.It will be interesting to see what those reno’s add.I must add we live on a ski-sized lake,so that helps.

    • ChrisC says:

      I forgot to add the biggest bang for the buck we’ve gotten is adding spray foam insulation to the whole house and a tankless water heater.Our electric bill dropped $50 a month the very first month.They were pricey but have already paid for themselves.And each time we reno a room we upgrade the windows/siders to hurricane proof.(Paid for themselves when Irma went right over our house!)Things people don’t see but when you go to sell,buyers appreciate that,as does our wallet.

  13. Emily says:

    Money aside, think of how much joy these spaces have and will bring you for years to come! Great work!

  14. Kelly says:

    Before everyone gets too excited – an actual appraiser will make value adjustments based on condition and quality of construction but not personal taste or what is currently “in style” – which generally means that mostly cosmetic changes don’t affect actual value as much as people think (i.e. ceramic tile is ceramic tile). More value is generally gained by adding useful space or finishing out previously unfinished spaces. Where I live, the market has caused an increase in my own property value of over $245,000 since 2011 (I’ve made cosmetic changes like new flooring, paint, light fixtures, tile, countertops, etc. – probably less than $30,000 total). All of this is just to say that depending on the conditions in your area, the market alone may be responsible for a big chunk of that increase in value (as in my case). This isn’t to take anything away from all the wonderful work you’ve done – it is just to educate your readers that you generally don’t get out what you put in, let alone double your investment. The average kitchen reno, for example, will recoup approximately 80% of its cost (depending on the quality). Tackling much of the work DIY though, as you have done, definitely gives you the best bang for your buck!

  15. Can’t wait to see what you guys do to your master bath! I absolutely love everything you two do! We just redid our master bath (we entered your Lowe’s Spring Makeover before we started the redesign ????) and your style was definitely an inspiration!

  16. Kate Perry says:

    Hi guys,
    I love your blog and have been a regular reader for the last 18m, and I’m now also a regular podcast listener, but I’ve come up against a bit of an issue when reading on my iPad (but not my iPhone!)

    For some unusual reason when reading on my iPad, the ‘contact us’ button will not work hence having to contact you in this manner I’m afraid…..and the screen constantly has the menu from header expanded……and the rotten thing will not close! That means that I end up with the top third of the screen covered by the menu, and the page is constantly trying to right itself which makes it almost impossible to read……

    Hopefully there is a ‘quick fix’ available- but if it’s something I need to do please can you explain?!!

    Many thanks,


  17. Cara says:

    That’s amazing!!’ Just curious, does the $75k included things you were given (i.e. Water heaters/heat/at, etc) or just what you paid for yourself?

  18. Greta says:

    I’m just curious to know if your neighborhood has a homeowners association. Do you have any advice on how to work with an HOA when they don’t agree with landscaping updates/exterior changes you want to make? We are installing a fence and the HOA did not approve the tasteful style of cedar fence we want to install. They want a simple good neighbor fence. Any advice would be helpful!

  19. Lynn says:

    It’s important to note, regarding your net profit from selling, that average sellers fees can be Around 7-8%, depending on your state taxes, real estate fees, etc. so technically if you put 75k in and got $150k more than you spent, then you could have 20-25k in fees that would eat into your net. Just think this is important to mention if readers are looking at how many improvements to make and evaluating a potential net profit when selling!

  20. Anna says:

    That is amazing! Now, do that $75k that you put into renovating include installation cost for everything you’ve done? If not, what is the amount you would add to your work approximately for the regular people that aren’t so handy? :)

  21. Datt says:

    would you sell the house furnished?

  22. Emily says:

    That picture of your kitchen makes it look like the window mullions are black now…did you replace them? I always thought they’d look great painted black, but I remember you saying they were inaccessibly set inside the window.

  23. SEM says:

    I wish an east coast flip was this affordable. In my area you are looking at 700k+ before renovations. Your fabulous place out here would fetch a cool million for sure! Get ‘er on a truck and move her to New Jersey!

  24. Lindsay says:

    I love everything about the home you’ve created and am always inspired to create a warm and homey space from what I see on your blog. Also cannot wait to see what you do with your master bath! Where are you drawing inspiration from for this project?!

  25. Amy says:

    On thing I think worth mentioning is the fact that the market actually went up a lot in the last four years too. Your same house in the condition you bought it in would be worth a lot more if you bought it today. Not as much as it’s worth now obviously, and you guys have done amazing work. Your house is beautiful! But you most likely didn’t gain 75k of value strictly off of 75k of renovations. The fact that the market has been consistently moving upwards in that amount of time played a part. If the market had stayed more constant, you may not have seen as big of a return. Otherwise, lots of great tips for people who are looking to add a little something to their home’s appeal before selling :)

    • Jess says:

      These are my thoughts exactly. It definitely isn’t just because what you’ve done. (although that has been totally fabulous) It’s been a fantastic last couple of years in the housing market, but if this was 2009-ish after the recession, you probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere near what he told you. It’s more than just what you’ve done to a home that factors in. We bought our home in the midwest in 2015 for 395,000 done nothing since then and it’s worth almost 50,000 more in two years.

    • Rachel says:

      My thoughts exactly. We purchased our home in the Denver area four years ago for $250,000. We had an appraisal in February of this year and without adding a single thing (besides paint) we appraised for $375,000. We updated the kitchen and finished our basement (about $35,000) and now unexpectedly need to move. We just sold it for $420,000, which is great, but most is the inflated market. It seems like most areas have experienced an inflation in the last few years!

  26. Rachelle says:

    Our master bath is almost identical to yours and it’s the last thing on our Reno list too. I guess cause we are the only ones who see it?? I can’t wait to see what you do with it cause we want to do ours this winter too!

  27. Kim says:

    This beautiful house only for 400k???? I wanna buy a dozen!!!!????

  28. Meredith says:

    Wow! I can’t believe how cheap your houses are! I’m from New Zealand and follow a few American bloggers and am always surprised at the excess and size and this must be why. Your house would literally be 3 times that price in my city. I absolutely adore your classic style. You have created a truly beautiful home.

    • Courtney says:

      Not all houses in the US are this cheap – it varies considerably based upon the part of the country you live in. For example. I live in Los Angeles and we sold our 900 square foot 2 bedroom 1 bath “starter” house for $1.035 million in 2016 (we bought it for $785,000 in 2014). Some of the increase in value was due to renovations we did (updating the kitchen, adding a bathroom), but mostly it was just the insane real estate market in Los Angeles. Our current 1700 sq foot 3 bedroom 2 bath house cost $1.4 million and needed some pretty significant renovations. In contrast, we were able to buy a 4 bedroom 4 bath investment home in Phoenix, AZ for about $600,000 and there are plenty of neighborhoods in Phoenix where we could have paid less for a similar house – we chose the more expensive neighborhood because we knew it would be attractive to seasonal renters. So as I said, the price of housing really depends on what part of the US you live in. I can only dream of paying $250,000 – $350,000 for a house like Chris’s and Julia’s.

  29. Monica says:

    Wow – wonderful news that all of your hard work has paid off! Like others, though, am wondering what materials cost for your DIY and what the labor and materials for the deck and yard project (what a great addition!) as well as other professional services you hired out (recent bathroom ) add up to? Would also be interesting to know how much home values in your neighborhood have risen ove the last 4 years? Trulia tells me that in my own neighborhood the mediam value of a house was $450K in September of 2013 verses $695K in Septemer of 2017, so often house values increase significantly over time even without improvements !

  30. Courtney says:

    This was great! Thank you for sharing. Also makes me feel better that we decided to paint our kitchen and redo the master bath and powder room before selling. Fingers crossed it’ll be on the market in two weeks!

  31. Kelly Kestler says:

    I know you guys always break down the costs of each project, do you have a running total showing what you’ve spent on the house in those 4 years to get you to this point where you’ve increased the value by $150K? I think that’s always the fear is overspending, and I know we’ve come much less far in the 5 years we’ve spent in our home so it’s crazy to see how much you’ve done in 4 short years!

  32. Allison says:

    Super exciting for the two of you with the value you added! i’m sure this was addressed at the time you did it, but did removing the “closets” from the girls room and adding the wardrobes impact value? In my state (Michigan) I know in order for a bedroom to be considered a bedroom, it has to have a closet. Not sure if your wardrobe is considered a closet by real estate standards in Idaho?

    • Julia says:

      He said they are 100% considered closets. They are built in and didn’t detract from the value at all. Good question! He did say that the built in bunks are obviously for a very specific buyer with kids, but someone without kids would probably not be looking at a home with 5 bedrooms anyway, so they added value.

  33. Emily Roselle says:

    Same question as a couple of the others – what have you put in to know how much of that $150k increase in value is actually a potential profit?

  34. Renee says:

    Thanks for sharing this post! I found it super helpful and had never thought of getting a CMA to see the impact of home improvements. I would love a post on how to cheaply update a bathroom. How do you design around existing tile, layout and vanity and fix it up with paint etc? I’m about to tackle our dated guest bath but don’t want to gut it and spend a fortune!

  35. Katie says:

    How much would you estimate you spent on these upgrades? Realizing that you were given a lot of items for free or reduced prices due to the nature of your blog, what would value would you estimate for the total spent including the value of the free things? I am curious what the differential would be to the $150K appraisal change vs amount spent. Thanks!

    • Julia says:

      Chris and I just did a quick add-up of everything permanent to the house and we’ve put in right under $75K.

      • Molly says:

        Just curious- does the $75k include the value of the items you were gifted from companies?

      • Julia says:

        Yes. Although it doesn’t include any furnishings. :) Just permanent fixtures to the house, like cabinets, flooring, appliances, decking, etc.

      • Emily says:

        On a related note, are the items you were gifted truly free? I would guess they have tax implications, so you do sort of have to “pay” for those things even if only in a minor way, right? Or are they exempt? Always wondered how that worked!

      • Julia says:

        They aren’t free in many ways. People don’t just give us stuff “for free.” We work for those things and everything we receive has stipulations attached to them, including taxes.

      • Jenn Connor says:

        Julia, I’ve read it here before and I’ll say it again. You are a class act. Thank you for the inspiration on all fronts.

      • Katie says:

        Thanks! I think it all looks fantastic.

  36. Erin says:

    i think my question would be, what did you put into it (money wise) to help increase it’s value? it always drives me crazy when i watch love it or list it and they say that they put in 50k but the value of the house increased by 100k. so in theory you’ve only increased it by 50k. right?

    • Julia says:

      Haha, totally get what you’re saying. But if they put $50k in and the value was raised $100k, and then they sell it–that means they actually get that $50k they invested back. It would be interesting to add up what all our projects have come too. Maybe interesting and terrifying.

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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