Improving your house costs money, but how can you be sure you’ll get this money back when you sell? It can be tough to decide, and you don’t want to spend time and money on home improvements that buyers don’t care about. Here are 9 ways to increase your home value on a budget and a tight timeline.
9 Ways to Increase Your Home Value When You’re Ready to Sell
If you’re planning to live in your home for several more years before selling, you might consider bigger projects like remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, since you’ll get to enjoy the space in the meantime. But unless your bathroom or kitchen desperately needs an overhaul, these large-scale updates are not economical ways to increase your home value.
Look first at the small things or the most noticeable issues, and work your way up. Repairing damages, updating obviously outdated features, and creating a clean, new, polished look will have the biggest effects, and will increase your home value the most with the smallest upfront investment. Keep to a strict budget, plan your updates carefully, and tackle each project one at a time to make sure you don’t lose money on home renovations.
See which home improvements boost your home value the most.
Small: Under $500
1. Thorough Cleaning
You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating—cleaning your home thoroughly is the least expensive and most effective way to increase your home value. Your home should look cleaner than it ever has before. A thorough cleaning requires time and energy, but it’s very low-cost.
Consider small things like sweeping up dust bunnies as well as bigger projects like cleaning windows, replacing stained calk in the shower, steam-cleaning carpets, removing mold spots, and power washing siding and walkways. Clean bugs and webs from around light fixtures, vacuum corners, and scrub away stuck-on marks or stains. If you have wood floors or tile, make sure they shine. Take a close look at hard-to-reach places like blinds, stovetops, around sinks, and window and door frames.
Your home should look like a clean slate for the next owners. If you plan on doing other projects requiring painting, sanding, or other work, be sure to leave yourself enough time afterwards to thoroughly clean.
2. New, Neutral Paint
Painting with neutral colors is another low-cost way to increase your home value. New paint not only covers up stains or other small flaws in the walls, but it also makes your home look fresh and new.
Using neutral colors does not have to mean completely white. The color should simply be understated and easy to paint over, since the new homeowners will most likely want to add their own style. This means the color should be light and undersaturated (not bright). This includes various whites, beiges, and grays as well as mixes of neutrals with other colors, like a gray-blue or steel blue, a light, beige-pink mauve, or a gray-green celadon. Keep in mind that a color’s shade—its lightness or darkness—is not the same as its saturation—its brightness. Consider a color like mint green; though it is a light color, it is also very bright, so this would not be a good neutral color.
If you’re looking at an especially bright, bold, or dark wall, don’t be nervous. Though these colors are harder to cover, they’re not impossible. Use a primer first, then a layer or two of neutral paint. Consider using a paint that is made to cover stains, as this will be thicker and less likely to show through.
3. Complementary Landscaping
The front of your house and your yard make your first impression, which makes landscaping an important element of attracting buyers. But you don’t need professional landscaping to make your first impression a good one. Using the season in which your selling and using the surrounding elements can make a big difference in increasing the value of your home.
First, make sure your yard, like your home, is clean and well-kept. Weed gardens or apply new mulch, cut back dormant perennials, and trim the grass and bushes. Don’t overwhelm the space with too many plants and flowers. Instead, treat flowers like pops of color; use them sparingly, use uniform or complementary colors, and keep it simple. Use plants and flowers that are native to your area and look their best during the season you’re selling. This will help you get the most out of your yard, even if you’re landscaping for a winter sale.
Medium: Under $1500
4. New Garage Door
If you’ve recently replaced your garage door, this probably isn’t a priority for you, but if your garage door has scratches or dents, it’s time for a replacement. This is one of the few home improvements found to yield an ROI higher than 100%.
A clean, functional garage door is important for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious is its effect on curb appeal. This large, flat surface immediately draws the eye, and any scratches or dents are going to steal attention from other areas of your home. The second is security. If homebuyers think the garage door isn’t secure, they’ll start to wonder about the security of the home itself, and perhaps the neighborhood too.
You can replace your garage door yourself, or hire an expert to get the job done in a few hours. Choose a garage door that complements your siding and roof color to get the maximum value.
5. New, Modern Lighting
Your home’s best features will go unnoticed and undervalued if they’re hidden in dim, unpleasant orange light. Updating light fixtures or adding fixtures not only makes your home look more modern, but it also helps to highlight every other feature.
When updating your fixtures, make sure to keep the home’s theme in mind. For example, urban-chic steel track lighting might not make sense in a cozy log cabin. Recessed lights and other hidden lighting fixtures, like those around cabinets, are sleek, modern elements that generally fit with any decor. Chandeliers, other hanging lights, and sconces tend to make a decorative statement, so choose them carefully.
Where possible, use energy-efficient LEDs, as these tend to display a more visually appealing light spectrum, and they indicate that your home has some energy efficient improvements, which is particularly important to younger buyers. Prioritize lighting improvements in the kitchen and bathroom, as buyers tend to pay more attention to these areas.
6. New Door
A new front door can improve the value of your home for many of the same reasons as a new garage door. This is one of the first elements homebuyers see, and it can make your home look warm and welcoming, or cold and closed-off.
If it makes sense with your home exterior, consider a brightly colored door, such as red or blue. This bright pop of color draws buyers’ eyes and immediately beckons them inside. It also helps to break up the large, plain white surfaces of the home’s siding, and highlights the siding’s cleanliness.
Choose a door that is secure and energy efficient, and emphasize this to buyers. This will be particularly important in especially cold climates, like Michigan, where front doors have been known to freeze shut, and hot climates with high air conditioning costs.
Large: $5,000 or more
7. New siding
If your siding has holes, cracks, or other obvious damages, cleaning and paint probably won’t be enough and new siding can noticeably increase your home value.
Siding is an important part of curb appeal, which is essential for bringing in buyers and setting the stage for a good viewing, but it also speaks to your home’s age and integrity. Damaged siding makes your home look old and in need of repairs. Buyers will assume that other parts of the home need work as well, and this will eat into your asking price.
When choosing new siding, consider other big improvements like manufactured stone veneer. This is a layer of stone around the bottom of your house that can dramatically elevate the look. If this makes sense for your neighborhood, it can yield high ROI.
8. Kitchen or Bathroom Updates
You don’t need a completely new kitchen or bathroom to make it look updated and modern. First, take a hard look at the space and compare it to others in your neighborhood. Are there elements which are obviously outdated or damaged? Fixing these can increase your home value. Be careful not to overdo it, as bathroom and kitchen updates can add up quickly.
The best way to update your bathroom or kitchen is to focus on a clean and modern look, even if the space is small. If your cabinets are scratched or they appear outdated, consider refinishing them instead of replacing them completely. You can work with a professional to save time, or you can refinish these yourself to keep your budget tight. Replace decorative hinges with concealed hinges and your cabinets will look chic and clean. Install new cabinet knobs or pulls, or conceal these as well to add to the sleek look.
9. New Flooring
Flooring sets the stage in every room, and it can elevate a space or detract from it. You may be used to dark spots or scratches in your wood floors, or stains on your carpet, but buyers will notice. In some cases, you might be able to clean or repair these, but extreme cases will benefit more from new flooring.
Hardwood floors are especially popular today as younger buyers look for properties that are clean and low-maintenance. If your carpeting is worn-out and stained beyond steam-cleaning, consider removing it and replacing it with hardwood floors. Once again, you can hire professionals to save time, or you can tackle the job yourself to reduce costs. Interlocking or “Click-Lock” flooring, for example, is a project made for DIY enthusiasts.
If you already have hardwood flooring and pieces are rotted or damaged, considering carefully replacing these pieces instead of redoing the entire floor. If the floors appear structurally sound, but they look dirty, scratched, and faded, consider refinishing the floors instead of covering them up or replacing them.
The best ways to increase your home value do not necessarily add value to your home, but rather remove aspects that decrease value or drive buyers away. As you consider home improvements, ask yourself what things stick out. You’ll want to fix these things first, so buyers have no doubts about the beauty and quality of your home.
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