Your home is likely the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. In fact, according to Census data, the average home price in the United States was $398,900 in 2017. However, for many people, after the home is bought, there’s little done to maintain the space. Unfortunately, over time, this means that your pricey investment starts to depreciate faster than you can say, “Save me, HGTV.”
But there are plenty of easy ways to upgrade your home and increase its value in a hurry. “The time to maintain and improve your home value is always. Don’t wait to keep up regular maintenance and contemporize decor until you are trying to sell or planning a party or for a company visit,” says interior designer Denise Gianna, owner of New York-based Denise Gianna Designs. Adds award-winning real estate broker Aaron Hendon, “The key is to only do home improvements that provide $1.10 for every $1.00 spent—otherwise why do it?”
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 40 surefire ways to improve your home’s value, from major projects to upgrades you can hammer out by yourself in just a few minutes. And for more ways for dolling up your real estate, check out the 40 Simple Tricks for Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal.
Repaint your front door.
Simple though it may seem, just painting your front door can seriously increase your home’s value.
“It takes someone one minute to decide if they want to enter your home. If you are selling, that minute can cost you thousands in lost opportunities and days on the market!” says Gianna. “Give your home a fighting chance: paint your front door and shutters (your garage doors too if it applies). This is cheap and a must—akin to washing your face before leaving the house! Use deep, bold blues, greens, wine tones to add style.”
Pare down your fabric pieces.
While heavy drapery, upholstered furniture, and a never-ending sea of throw pillows used to be the height of interior fashion, if you want your home to look like (and potentially sell for) a million bucks, it’s time to get rid of all that cluttered-looking extra fabric.
“Remove excess pillows, throws, cushions and drapes. Clean lines—no matter what your house style—are never out of style!” says Gianna. “Fabrics trap moisture, dust and allergens. Layers of drapery obscure light and can make windows look smaller, ceilings lower and everything dingy. Too many pillows and throws do not make a sofa inviting.” And for more help around the house, check out these 30 Home Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind.
Swap out old light fixtures.
Just ask any real estate agent or designer: those cheap home supply store light fixtures aren’t going to earn you a major payday when you go to sell your house. Instead, upgrade your lighting and you’ll be upgrading that check from a potential buyer, too.
“If you are still living with the original builder fixtures (think rounded flush mounts and cookie cutter chandeliers with lights that work either up or down,) then I’m looking at you!” says Gianna. “Lighting fixtures, like hardware, are the jewelry if your house.”
But there’s good news: “Fixtures that compliment your home style and are stylish come in literally every price range,” she says.
Add some attic insulation.
A drafty house isn’t exactly a desirable one to buyers. Luckily, all it takes is a little insulation in your attic to seriously improve your home’s value.
“On average you will see a 108 to 116 percent return on investment,” says April Palomino, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Winter Park, Florida. “That is because insulation protects the home from the transfer of heat, thereby reducing energy bills. Insulation also prevents moisture from entering delicate parts of your home, preserving your investment.” And for more great advice, check out the 40 Items Every Man Over 40 Should Have in His Home.
Replace your dated garage door.
That dingy garage door you’ve backed into a hundred times probably isn’t a selling point for your home. Luckily, replacing yours isn’t a hugely pricey investment, and can make your house so much more attractive in the long run.
“By installing a new garage door you can see up to a 92 percent return on your investment,” says Palomino. “Garage doors boost curb appeal, provide safety and security and even help on energy bills if it is insulated.”
Add some steel entry doors.
“Steel entry doors are another great place to invest for an upgrade; you will see almost a 91 percent ROI,” says Palomino. “Steel entry doors boost curb appeal as they are sleek and clean and come in a variety of finishes and paneling. They increase the security of your home and stand up to wear and tear. They also help to decrease your energy bills as they are insulated and not subject to warping or rotting.”
Make your home eye-catching with some stone veneer.
If you want to make your home look like you spent thousands of dollars to have the exterior professionally upgraded, all it takes is a little stone veneer to increase that curb appeal.
“Manufactured stone veneer siding can bring you up to 92 percent return on investment. Stone veneer siding boosts curb appeal, it is easy to maintain and with insulation can also help to reduce your electric bill,” says Palomino.
Fix up those minor handyman projects around the house.
You may think those little repairs around the house are a waste of time, but if you’re not attending to them in a timely manner, you could be wasting a lot of money.
“Make minor repairs around the home,” suggests Palomino, noting that leaky faucets, Sheetrock damage or cracked plaster, broken windows, missing screens, or dented door jambs are good places to start. And for more great ways to elevate your home, see these 20 Amazing Ways to Brighten Your Home.
Attend to your landscaping.
“Landscaping is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your home value. Healthy trees, plants, and flowers along with a well-manicured lawn can improve the home’s appearance,” says Patrick van den Bossche, president of Realty Executives International. “Also, remove dead vegetation, hide hoses, and keep everything looking pristine to make the best first impression.”
Remove your carpeting.
“Modern home buyers are turned off by carpeting,” says Earl White, founder of House Heroes Realty and House Heroes LLC. “Laying down a shiny new wood floor across easily pays for itself several times over.” Luckily, this doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition: “There are also good alternatives to traditional wood floors,” says White. “Home renovators can buy engineered or laminate wood for a fraction of the cost of an expensive floor.”
Resurface your cabinets.
Even if you don’t have money in your budget to remodel your entire kitchen, you can still upgrade your space by resurfacing your cabinets. “Just because something looks worn or beaten down doesn’t mean it needs to be replaced. Resurfacing adds considerable market value–without breaking the bank,” says White.
Add some smart technology.
When you want to make your home more valuable, it’s time to start thinking smart. Investing in some smart home technology can increase your home’s value in a hurry, but without the expense of a huge renovation.
“Make smart enhancements like your thermostat, lighting, keypad door looks, fire detectors, and security cameras. If all else is the same between several homes that buyers are looking for, your home would win with a smart boost,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers.
Finish your basement.
That unfinished space in your basement could be the key to selling your home for a premium price.
“An unfinished basement can be a gold mine. In my market, below-grade square footage is worth $60 to $80 per foot and can be completed for less than $40 per foot,” says Morgan Franklin, a realtor with Atlas Trust Real Estate.
Redo your counters.
Those dingy laminate or tile counters are bringing down your home’s appeal—and its potential selling point. Luckily, installing granite or quartz counters can quickly improve the look and value of your place. “Replacing counter tops can be completed for under $10K and will have a huge impact on value,” says Franklin.
Install recessed lighting.
Want to make every room in your home look brighter, more beautiful, and more expensive? The answer is simple: recessed lighting.
“Depending on the electrician, and the complexity of the wiring, a single recessed light can cost between $150 to $250, installed. If money is tight, I would recommend focusing on entertaining and living spaces first, before bedrooms. Living rooms should have 4 recessed lights, hallways and kitchens should have a few too,” suggests Brian Dougherty, Managing Partner at Robert Paul Properties, in Boston. He also recommends adding dimmer switches for a customizable effect.
Upgrade with the right white paint.
All white paints aren’t created equal, but knowing which one is right for your space—and adding it to your walls and trim—can make your home more valuable in a heartbeat.
“While there are literally hundreds of different white paints to choose from, one that has the slightest tint of Grey or solver can be modern, fresh and sophisticated,” says Dougherty. “White is very ‘in’ now. It is updated, fresh, simple and chic, and most importantly, doesn’t limit a buyer from imagining themselves in your space, as a Burgundy or darker color might.”
Replace your cabinet door handles and drawer pulls.
Even if you don’t have thousands to spend on a full makeover of your kitchen, you can quickly upgrade the space.
Brenda DiBari, licensed real estate broker with Halstead Real Estate, recommends swapping out dated drawer pulls or knobs to give the impression of a refreshed space, with minimal cost and effort to you.
Replace face plates and wall switches.
Those metallic light switch covers may have once gone with your home’s décor, but if they’re looking dated, it’s time for them to go, says DiBari. Fortunately, it only costs a few dollars and takes mere seconds to replace those cheap plastic covers with more elegant wooden, ceramic, or metal ones—or just opt for nicer plastic versions instead.
Install a rack for pots and pans.
If you want to increase your home’s value, it’s of the utmost importance to reduce clutter wherever possible—especially in frequently-used spaces, like your kitchen. Fortunately, says DiBari, there’s an easy fix: an overhead pot and pan rack can instantly make your space look more cohesive and earn you some extra money when you go to sell.
Refresh your artwork.
Sometimes, increasing your home’s value is as simple as swapping out that dated family portrait for something a little fresher. “Home furnishings and artwork make a huge impact on the feeling and value that your house gives. Declutter by removing the build-up of belongings gathered over time and rearrange or replace wall hangings with fresh new artwork,” says DiBari.
Upgrade your entryway.
You need more than just some nice shrubs and fresh paint to boost your home’s appeal from the front—your entryway can also be major selling point. “The front door—does the lock work? Is it an inviting entry? Chipping paint on the front door? Broken glass? Make the entry way a showplace and set a positive impression from the start,” says Trey McCallie, principal broker at Urban Toolbox Real Estate.
Powerwash your home.
You shower on a regular basis—and your home should, too. “When buyers pull up, they are judging your home immediately. You never have a second chance to make a first impression,” says McCallie, who recommends powerwashing homes to rid them of the dirt and debris that tends to collect on exterior siding.
Refinish your floors
Those unattractive floors aren’t going to get you the sale price you’d hoped for when it comes time to sell. “If your floors are not in good condition, spend money on the upgrade,” says Brad Malow, a licensed real estate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
“There are various financial levels of renovations you can do with flooring. If they’re hardwood, you have the options of simply sanding and buffing, staining, overlaying, or replacing completely. Dirty carpeting can and should be cleaned for a nominal fee.”
Reglaze your tub.
That dingy-looking tub doesn’t have to be replaced with a pricey claw-foot model to add value to your home.
“Scratches or discolorations in your bathtub? Reglaze the tub!” says Malow. “It’s a relatively inexpensive option and will leave buyers looking at a bright white, sparkling place to relax.”
Re-grout your shower tiles.
Similarly, re-grouting your bathroom tile can make your bathroom shine again in a hurry. “Nobody wants to pull back a shower curtain and see black grime. Re-grouting tiles is an easy, small project that can make tiled walls feel like new,” says Malow.
Stage your laundry room.
Your laundry room—if you’re lucky enough to have one—could be the key to adding serious value to your home. “If you have a space in the laundry room or other small area, stage it as a wrapping center with wrapping paper, bows, tape, scissors, etc. or a gardening center with some clay pots, a trowel, pruning shears, potting soil,” suggests Sheila MacDonald, a realtor with J Barrett and Company. “This turns a wasted space into an extra ‘luxurious’ space with very little money.”
Maximize your garage storage.
That cluttered garage isn’t going to win over any potential buyers. If you want to make your space more attractive, functional, and appealing to someone willing to pay top dollar, it’s time to add some storage in that potentially-wasted space.
“Invest in inexpensive storage shelving or hanging for your garage. Make it the organized space that people wish they had in their current home,” says MacDonald.
Paint your garage floor.
Want another easy way to make your garage shine? All it takes is a little paint. “If the garage floor is nice, perhaps paint it with the acrylic paint made for garage floors,” suggests MacDonald.
Create an outdoor seating area.
Creating a little outdoor seating space could be the finishing touch you need on your home’s exterior appeal. “Set up a deck or porch as an outdoor living area with comfy cushions on furniture, an outdoor rug, a grill, perhaps a fire pit, or a TV if the area is covered. This expands the square footage of your home in a buyer’s mind,” says MacDonald.
Organize your mudroom.
Making the most of a back entryway is an easy way to add some serious value to your home in a hurry. “Add a bench with hooks for coats and perhaps baskets underneath for shoes, hats, mittens, etc, in an area that can become a makeshift mudroom,” recommends MacDonald.
As a general rule, those ornate fabrics, patterns, and design styles your parents may have favored probably won’t yield you a major ROI. When you’re looking to improve your home’s value, minimal will yield maximum money. “Buyers today are very influenced by the home shows that they see on HGTV and that seems to dictate what many people say they are looking for. Neutral colors, clean surfaces, minimal window treatments,” says MacDonald.
Add some light in the kitchen.
“Adding under the counter lights will also really brighten up the space,” says Ralph DiBugnara, President of Home Qualified and VP at Residential Home Funding. Luckily, all it takes is a few inexpensive stick-up LED lights to achieve the look you want.
Go for energy-efficient appliances.
“An investment in new energy efficient appliances will not only make it look better but will save you money on your electric bills,” says DiBugnara.
Go bold with your bathroom color.
While neutrals may serve you well in the rest of the house, some major contrast in the bathroom could make your home more valuable in the long run.
“The bathrooms: also remain an area that most buyers really want to see new and shiny. Try repainting the rest of your bathroom a high contrasting color to really make everything sparkle!” says DiBugnara.
Install ductless mini-splits.
Nobody loves coming home to an overheated house on those hot summer days. Luckily, even if you don’t have existing ductwork, you can easily make your home cooler by installing ductless mini-splits to keep the space a pleasant temperature all year long, says Elizabeth Bain, a real estate agent with Commonwealth Standard Realty Co., in Boston.
Upgrade your closet storage space.
A little storage goes a long way when it comes to making your home more valuable. “Add shelving or two rows of hangers to small closets to make it feel custom and add storage space,” suggests Bain.
Add some gray tones.
In addition to those fresh whites and bright colors in your bathroom, a gray bedroom could be the key to making your home a more valuable property. “Gray is the hot color right now,” says Bain.
Replace your bathroom basics.
While it may seem strange, a new toilet could actually be the very thing that upgrades your bathroom enough to make it a more valuable and desirable space. “Replace the toilet for a more efficient and modern look,” suggests Nancy Wallace-Laabs, a licensed real estate broker with KBN Homes, LLC.
Refresh your faucet.
Even if you don’t have thousands to spend on new floors, lighting, counters, and cabinets, simply adding a new faucet in your kitchen can make all the difference in the value of your space.
“Updating the sink with a modern looking faucet will add the ‘wow’ factor to any kitchen. A minor kitchen remodel will enhance the overall look and feel of your kitchen without breaking the bank,” says Wallace-Laabs.
Keep up with the Joneses.
“If renovations in your neighborhood are simple, keep it simple. Otherwise you will find yourself spending too much on updating your property but will not realize the return of your investment on closing day,” says Wallace-Laabs. “Go to open houses in your neighborhood prior to putting your house on the market. Pay attention to the kitchen, baths, flooring and fixtures—then go home and start with those ideas.”
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