There are plenty of reasons why a condominium, co-op or homeowners’ association might see fit to spruce up its common areas. Dated décor, seasonal inspiration, excess cash on-hand, or just sheer boredom with the current look all come to mind. But regardless of reason, a board has a fiduciary duty to its owners and shareholders first and foremost; it must act in the best interest of the association, and make decisions that will protect the investments of all involved. Because of this, redecorating shouldn’t be done on a whim. It must be carefully considered and undertaken in a frugal way that maintains (or even improves) property value without draining the association’s coffers.
Analyzing a remodel or redecoration from a cost/benefit perspective can seem complicated, but there are several core considerations that an association can rely on in order to assess whether it’s the right time to make an aesthetic change.
It is an accepted truism in real estate that curb appeal can have a strong influence on potential buyers before even stepping into the unit they came to see. They may even fall so in love with the place that they make a mental commitment to it based on that first impression alone. To this end, ensuring that common areas catch visitors’ eyes and linger in their minds can prove a legitimate boon to sales.
John F. Holzinger Jr., President of Barhite & Holzinger, Inc., a real estate and insurance brokerage in Westchester County, New York, recommends that an association go no longer than 15 years without overhauling its interior design scheme. “After 15 years, it’s time!” he says. “Curb appeal as reflected by common areas is very important – especially when the market is soft, but generally speaking as well. If there isn’t granite on the countertops, it’s time. If you’ve got wood-style cabinets, like cherry or oak, those are too dated.”
“Aesthetic improvements, if executed wisely, will translate to a positive ROI,” adds Jennifer McCaw, Director of Operations with Advocate Property Management in Naperville. “Always keep the budget in mind, and aim to renovate for the long term, utilizing classic styles rather than trying to be too fashionable or trendy.”