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23 Small Investments That Skyrocket Your Home's Value

You don't need to go big to go home.

If home design shows are to be believed, all it takes to completely transform your house is a few days, a little elbow grease, and a handful of Home Depot runs. However, making major changes to your space is rarely as simple as it seems. According to HomeAdvisor, the average home remodel costs more than $43,000, with many reaching into the low six-figure range. What's worse, even with a major investment of money, many of those expensive home upgrades won't actually yield any return when it comes time to sell—and some may even lower the sale price of your home in the long run.

So, before you spend your hard-earned dollars on a renovation without much ROI, read on to discover which investments will actually increase your home's value.

Paint your front door black.

black door home upgrades with best return

A little paint could be the key to selling your house for a lot more than you expected. According to a report from Zillow, homes with dark front doors—specifically black and dark gray ones—earned $6,271 more at sale than anticipated. So lift some advice from the Stones and paint it black!

Replace your garage door.

Garage door home upgrades with best return

Replacing a garage door won't take much more than a few hours, but the return on investment is huge. While the average cost of an upscale garage door replacement is $3,611, according to Remodeling magazine's annual "Cost vs. Value" report, it earns back $3,520—or 97.5 percent of that cost—at sale time.

Insulate your attic.

insulation home upgrades with best return

Insulation is a great investment for any home for a number of reasons, namely that it lowers energy bills, preventing your heat from escaping and keeping your air conditioning contained, while providing a major return. So, what's the ROI on this typically easy and inexpensive project—one that you might not even need a contractor to tackle? A staggering 107.7 percent.

Replace your siding.

Man installing siding home upgrades with best return

That dinged-up siding is doing your house precisely zero favors when it comes to resale value. Replacing it now will be a major boon to your house in the long run: adding new mid-range siding to a home yields a 75.6 percent return on investment.

Add new vinyl windows.

man opening window home upgrades with best return

Old windows may provide some vintage charm, but they're not doing much for the sale price. Worse yet, if they bear traces of lead paint, opening and closing them could mean the poisonous dust is making its way into your home. But if you choose to replace them with new vinyl windows, you'll recoup 73.4 percent of your investment. And if you add storm windows to the mix, you'll also cut your heat loss by up to 33 percent while reducing noise pollution, making your home more attractive to potential buyers.

Put in a new deck.

backyard deck home upgrades with best return

Upgrading your outdoor space with the addition of a deck now may mean more money in your pocket when it comes time to sell. The addition of a wood deck typically yields a return of 75.6 percent, while pricier composite fetches a 69.1 percent ROI, or an average of $13,232 on a $19,150 project.

Opt for tuxedo cabinets.

tuxedo kitchen cabinets home upgrades with best return

While it may seem like having a home where everything matches will make you more money in the long run, the opposite is actually true when it comes to your kitchen. Having tuxedo cabinets, where the upper cabinetry is a light color and the bottom is a dark color, earned sellers an additional $1,547 more than the home's anticipated sale price.

Add stone veneer.

stone veneer uhome upgrades with best return

That worse-for-wear stucco on your home's exterior isn't going to have buyers lining up. Luckily, there's a not-too-difficult fix that can bump up your selling price. The addition of stone veneer to your exterior will yield a 94.9 percent ROI, and the project typically takes just a few days to complete.

Install a steel entry door.

front door home upgrades with best return

Can you put a price tag on peace of mind? Adding a steel entry door will cost you $1,826 on average, but that practically break-in-proof addition can make all the difference when you're ready to sell—that new door earns a 74.9 percent ROI.

Redecorate your bathroom with a blue color scheme.

modern bathroom home upgrades with best return

An all-white bathroom may look clean and serene, but if you want to seriously increase your home's value, go blue instead. The addition of some blue paint to a bathroom meant an additional $2,786 in a seller's pocket, according to Zillow.

Do a minor kitchen remodel.

luxury kitchen appliances home upgrades with best return

You don't need to spend tens of thousands for a full kitchen gut job to enjoy a major uptick in your home's value. Just a minor remodel, like fresh paint on your cabinets, refinished floors, or new counters, can yield an 80.5 percent ROI when it's time to sell.

Replace your roof shingles.

Man Installing a New Roof home upgrades with best return

Before that roof starts leaking and causing problems, replace it with some new shingles—and enjoy a nice return on your investment in the long run. Adding asphalt shingles to your roof yields an average 68.2 percent ROI when your house goes on the market.

Add a new fence.

privacy fencing home upgrades with best return

Some projects don't even require a contractor to set foot in your home to complete, yet still manage to earn you plenty of extra cash in the long run. For instance, while fencing can cost as little as $5 per linear foot for chain link and up to $45 for composite materials, a fenced-in yard is a huge selling point for many buyers—and the lack of one could make or break a sale, especially for those who have children or dogs.

Upgrade your landscaping.

new landscaping home upgrades with best return

If you have a green thumb, you can earn a lot more green when you're ready to sell your house. While sprucing up your landscaping can cost you under a few hundred dollars—especially if you're a do-it-yourself type—it yields major returns in the long run. According to research out of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, sophisticated landscaping increased the perceived value of a home by 42 percent.

Install hardwood flooring.

sleeping dog home upgrades with best return

Tired laminate, tile, or vinyl sheet flooring won't be a selling point for most buyers—and in the worst-case scenario, might even be a deal breaker. On the flip side, if you install hardwoods, you might just see your home's value skyrocket.

"Hardwood floors are very popular right now and are a pain to do after you move in," says Trey McCallie, principal broker at Urban Toolbox Real Estate. "[It's] so much easier for a seller to get it done and check it off the buyer's list. The value is mostly in the perceived value by the buyers."

Paint your living room taupe.

taupe living room home upgrades with big return
Shutterstock/Pablo Scapinachis

If you're hoping to earn some serious cash when you go to sell your house, consider a neutral palette for your living spaces. Not only do neutral paint colors make it easier for potential buyers to see your home as a blank slate, a taupe-colored living room increased a home's sale price by an average of $2,793.

Have a new patio put in.

patio home upgrades with big return

While a nicely-manicured yard is a draw to many homebuyers, a comfortable place to host a gathering or kick back with a good book can boost your sale price even higher. Adding some new pavers and creating a designated patio area typically yields a 55.2 percent return on investment.

Remodel your bathroom.

bathroom remodel home upgrades with big return

Like all homeowners, you may have dreams of giving your bathroom a gut-reno. But you don't need to go big to go home: even minor upgrades can make a major difference in your home's value. A mid-range bathroom remodel yielded a 67.2 percent return on investment—and, luckily, there are easy ways to DIY this project. Re-glazing your tub, painting outdated tile, replacing unattractive taps and towel bars, and adding storage to your bathroom can completely transform the space without a huge investment of time or money.

Install a backup generator.

generator home upgrades with big return

Keeping your appliances humming, even when a winter storm hits does more than provide you peace of mind. Installing a backup generator—a project that can be done by a handy homeowner, or takes just a few hours for a contractor—will provide a 59.4 percent return on investment in the long run.

Add wood windows.

wood windows home upgrades with big return

While vinyl windows are cheaper and typically provide a greater return, if you love the look of wood windows, know that they're a solid investment, too. With a 70.8 ROI, wood windows are a great way to upgrade your house without a major remodel—and better yet, replacing windows is an easy enough project, even for someone without prior construction experience.

Turn a nook into a custom closet.

closet storage home upgrades with big return

If you have some unused space in your home—an area under a dormer in a Cape Cod, for instance—you'd be wise to consider turning it into closet space. While DIYers can complete this project in just a few hours with some modular shelving, having a large closet will instantly increase your home's value; closet design professional Denise Butchko suggests it's one of the few projects that actually yields a 100 percent (!) ROI.

"The small closets in the 1950s-era homes don't work at all today," says McCallie, deeming upgraded closet space "very necessary" to attract buyers.

Install a kitchen backsplash.

backsplash home upgrades with big return

If you're looking to seriously upgrade your kitchen in less than one day (and reap the financial rewards of your hard work), it's time to get tiling. "Backsplashes have almost become an expectation in this HGTV world we live in," says McCallie. "It's very inexpensive and has a huge impact on your kitchen's cool factor. We did ours for less than $400—and $300 was labor."

Put in a barn door.

barn door home upgrades with big return

Adding some rustic feel to your home can make a major difference in how appealing it is to the next buyer. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association's annual design survey, rustic details are a major trend in recent years, and the addition of a sliding barn door for a kitchen or bath can help touch on this popular style without overwhelming your home's existing aesthetic. And to add some extra appeal to your home, start with these 30 Next-Level Home Design Tricks from Celebrity Designers.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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