There are many improvements, both large and small, that you can make to increase the value of your home. However, the ones you choose to make may depend on whether you plan to stay or sell.
“Even if you’re planning to stay in your home, it’s beneficial to be aware of the factors that will affect your home’s value,” says Cathy Burkle, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in the greater Atlanta area. These five tips offer guidance for where you should focus your attention to net a higher value for your home:
1. Refresh the paint
One of the easier and less expensive improvements, paint can make a space feel transformed and updated. Real estate professionals often cite interior painting as an important factor in selling a home. But don’t feel the need to repaint every room — stick to high-traffic areas, like the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms, along with any rooms with bright, bold colors. Neutral tones allow buyers to better visualize the space and focus on the home’s attributes.
Tip: Estimate the materials and cost of doing the painting yourself versus hiring a professional. If you choose to do the work yourself, be sure to select the best paint type for the room — paints with a satin or semi-gloss finish are best for high-moisture areas like bathrooms.
2. Add curb appeal
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but prospective buyers will almost certainly judge your house by the impression it makes from the street. Good curb appeal can instantly improve a person’s perception of your home and therefore increase its value. A study by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, found that improvements on landscaping showed more than a 200% return on investment. “Trees and shrubs should be pruned, grass cut, and sidewalks cleaned and edged,” suggests Burkle. You can easily achieve a welcoming entryway and add a pop of color by adding a door wreath and some potted annuals on your front steps.
Tip: If you plan to tackle some landscaping yourself, be sure to select plants that are easy to maintain and proper for the region in which you live.
3. Look under foot
Take a good look at your current flooring and see if there are any improvements or updates you should make. If you’re going for a high-end feel in your home, the floors are an important component of your vision — and also what many people notice upon entering your home. Spruce up carpeting by having it professionally cleaned. If the carpeting is well-worn, very dated, or has stains or odors, consider replacing it. Similarly, you’ll want to repair any cracks or chips in tile flooring — and you can restore it to a nearly new appearance by regrouting. Good news if you have hardwood floors: They have a high resale value and are what most buyers look for in homes. Based on data from the National Association of Realtors, 54% of buyers would be willing to pay more — $2,000 more — for hardwood floors. If your hardwood is worn or faded, consider refinishing it to bring new life to your home.
Tip: Be aware of all that goes into refinishing hardwood — including the timeframe — before tackling the project yourself. Or, get an estimate of what it might cost to leave it to the professionals.
4. Get organized
Did you know that a cluttered home can result in feelings of stress and anxiety? Studies show clutter in our homes can also inhibit creativity and productivity. If you plan on putting your home on the market, be aware that clutter can make your house appear smaller and unclean, and can drive away potential buyers. “Your house should never have been cleaner than on the day the first buyer comes through the door,” says Burkle. Whether for your own mental health or to prepare for a sale, focus your efforts on simple improvements, such as making sure that mail and papers don’t pile up on your kitchen counters and that linens are neatly folded on storage shelves. You can also feel good about getting rid of any unwanted items by donating to local charities.
Tip: If you find the cleaning process overwhelming, the National Association of Professional Organizers can connect you with a qualified professional in your area.
5. Have an eye for detail
Kitchens and bathrooms are primary targets for renovations, but they often come with a hefty price tag. By focusing on the details in these rooms instead of thinking about a full-scale remodel, you may find that there are several little things you can do to increase value without spending much money. Consider switching out the cabinet hardware or upgrading an old or outdated light fixture — for example, gold fixtures have a very ’80s feel to them, whereas brushed nickel is currently desirable. Small tasks, such as recaulking around the bathtub and upgrading your linens and shower curtains, can also have a large impact. Dirty toilets are a huge turnoff for potential homebuyers, so if there are lingering stains or any cracks in the seat, take care of those problems quickly — a new toilet seat will only run you $25–$40 at your local hardware store.
Tip: It can sometimes be difficult to look at your home objectively, particularly for the small details. Consult a real estate professional in your area for guidance on what changes you should make to increase your home’s value, particularly if you are looking to put the house on the market.