LESLIE: Theresa in South Carolina has a very good question. I’ll let you word it for us. Tell us.
THERESA: Hi. I have a new house and I wanted to make some improvements on the interior and exterior, landscaping everything. And my husband’s concerned about spending too much money in it because we’re going to be leaving in three years. We’re in the … he’s in the military.
TOM: Does your husband think you’re a serial renovator, Theresa?
THERESA: Yes, I think I am, actually. (laughing) Because every time I’ve been painting rooms and as soon as I finish painting a room then I want to do something else. (laughing) I just kind of want to make it more homey, more my home.
LESLIE: Well, especially since you’re moving so often.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. I mean if you’re moving around a lot, you do want to make it feel more comfortable. And I don’t blame you. And the things that you’re doing, first of all, A, the painting and the wallpaper are not that expensive. Doesn’t have really much of a return on investment. As long as it remains fairly neutral, it’s not going to take away from the sale. It’s when you get really crazy with dramatic decorating that you love but somebody else could hate, that that detracts from the value. Landscaping, however, always adds to the value and always adds to the value way in excess of what it costs. So that kind of thing is really good for you to do.
How old is this house?
THERESA: It is brand new. We just moved into it in July.
TOM: Ah, well then you need a lot … you need a lot of fixing up because right now it’s probably stark white. And Leslie, I know how you hate white.
LESLIE: I hate white paint.
TOM: But it’s a canvas. Think of it as a canvas that you can paint.
LESLIE: And don’t forget, think about flooring. If there’s a carpeting in there that you don’t like or it’s a color that you just don’t find inviting, you don’t have to replace that carpeting. You can put a throw rug over a fully carpeted rug – over a fully carpeted floor – which will still add warmth and personality without spending a ton of money.
TOM: And could be portable if you have to move.
THERESA: (inaudible) Definitely. So there is no … I guess … is there a magic, maximum number of money I should spend on the landscaping? Because I mean it can get pretty pricey, from what I’ve seen.
TOM: Well, I mean what kind of things are you thinking about doing? I mean do you have a sprinkler system?
THERESA: No, we don’t.
TOM: Are you thinking about putting one in?
THERESA: I wasn’t thinking about the sprinkler system but I was thinking about, you know, putting in some nice mulching and shrubbery and …
TOM: Yeah, all that sort of thing is good to do and not terribly expensive. And even as …
LESLIE: You know, think about when you’re purchasing any of your shrubbery or your trees or anything that you might be planting, deal with a nursery that offers you some sort of warranty. I know when we had some arborvitaes planted in the backyard, within the first six months, one of the trees just was not doing well and had completely died. And thankfully, we made sure that the nursery that we worked with had, within a certain time frame, if the tree doesn’t make it, they’ll replace it. So always look into some sort of warranty that the nursery might have as far as – whether it’s your fault or their fault or it’s just not watered properly – that they’ll replace it.
TOM: Alright, Theresa. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.