Raise Your Home’s Value With Smart Improvements
If one of your goals for this year is to sell your home, or you just want to finish some household projects to improve the look and feel of your home, we have tips for how you can increase your home’s value that won’t break your budget.
Home improvement can take a lot of different forms. Sometimes, you might not even be able to “see” the improvements (i.e., replacing rusty pipes), but knowing they’re there can give you peace of mind and increase the value of your home in a big way.
As we have been revisiting Your First Home, our research team has interviewed dozens of top agents from around the country about the advice they would give first-time home buyers to improve their home and protect their investment.
We’ve divided this advice for home improvements into 4 categories: Maintenance, Big Impact, Cosmetic Changes, and Outdoor Living Spaces.
Setting aside a Saturday to clean your gutters or change the air filters might not sound terribly exciting, but this “sweat equity” can have big dividends. Taking care of your home’s systems will protect the long-term value of your investment.
To keep on top of the tasks that keep your home in tip-top shape, we recommend coming up with a schedule for regular service and setting yourself reminders for these tasks. This can work great for things like changing filters and servicing the HVAC system. A few hours of planning initially ensures that your calendar does the work for you going forward.
Once you’ve scheduled your maintenance needs for the year, you can make a list of other things that you’d like to do around the house in the coming months and years. This will help you budget and stay focused on your goals to improve your home.
Updating and improving your home ensures that you’re eventually able to sell it and put that money toward a new one. But, if you want to make big changes with big impact on your home’s value, you’ll need to make sure your home represents the best of the market. Your home isn’t just a house, it’s an investment toward your future real estate holdings. With attentiveness, knowledge, and a bit of money, you can increase the value of your home and build equity.
Your big picture, bigger budget changes can be divided into two groups:
- Must-Haves, which includes mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and roof updates; and
- Nice-to-Haves, which account for flooring, an upgraded kitchen, and upgraded bathrooms.
Don’t be seduced by the flashier nice-to-haves at the expense of the must-haves.
We recommend selecting one or two big projects to tackle as a yearly goal. It’s important to make sure you’re selecting projects that will increase your home value, but not require you to spend your emergency funds.
Maybe this year you’ll update the guest bathroom and install a new light fixture for the front entry. Then you can save building a new deck and installing a tankless water heater for the next year.
Another option is to find ways to upgrade your home that save you money in the long run. Examples include investing in energy-efficient appliances, installing a programmable thermostat, changing lightbulbs to LED, or putting in a rain barrel for your garden.
If you don’t have the time or money for big changes, but you still want to increase the value of your home, here are several cosmetic changes you can make that will add up.
Mulch the flower beds. Never underestimate the power of a clean and orderly looking landscape. Mulch will quickly and efficiently add polish and sophistication to your landscaping.
Plant trees and flowers. Fully mature trees can be very expensive, but smaller trees are easier to plant and will mature over the years, just in time for you to sell. A bit of research can tell you the best plants for your climate. Invest in perennial flowers that will add curb appeal without requiring a green thumb.
Nice borders. You can use landscape bricks to create retaining walls around the borders of outdoor features. This will add dimension to your landscaping and keep your lawn elements looking smart.
Paint. Updating the paint throughout your house can add tremendous appeal. However, drips on the carpet and messy trim are dead giveaways that an amateur is at work. The good news is there are endless tutorials and tools available on the internet to make it easier to paint interiors yourself without sacrificing a professional look.
Update the fixtures. Old faucets, doorknobs, and drawer pulls can make a house look dated. But beware, fixtures can add up quickly! You may want to get rid of your 90s-style ceiling fans, and we don’t blame you, but make sure you shop around and find affordable options.
Re-grout the bathroom. Older bathrooms can have a lot of charm and also a lot of grimy grout. You can buy simple grout removal kits online and follow their instructions to make your bathroom sparkle.
Outdoor Living Spaces
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many of us outside. Whether it was birthday parties in the park, dinners outside at restaurants huddled by a patio heater, or simply having drinks in the backyard, it showed use that outdoor space can be just as important as indoor square-footage.
Investing in your home’s outdoor gathering space can increase your home’s value while also giving you the opportunity to enjoy more time outside.
Outdoor kitchens, pools, and elegant patios with beautiful furniture can certainly increase your home’s value if you have the extra income to spend on them. But if you want to add value without taking on a major remodel, then consider a fire pit, mounted heaters and fans, or a DIY pergola.
Making updates to your space can add value to your investment, of course. But updating and improving your home can also make it your own, making it more enjoyable to spend time there. It’s a win-win. Whether it’s painting the walls, planting trees, or ripping out the bathroom for a full renovation, let this be the year of home improvement and increasing your home’s value.