How to Increase Your Home’s Value

Whether you’re planning to stay in your home for many years or thinking of selling in the near future, you want your home’s value to grow from year to year. You want to enjoy your home to its fullest today, and it’s likely that you’ll want to sell sometime in the future, so choose your improvements wisely.

Not all improvements will give you a good return on dollars spent.

The first step is to make needed repairs, both large and small. Naturally, all major systems need to be in working order, but it’s also important to address small issues. Those irritants you may easily learn to live with will slowly erode your home’s value. So replace cracked windows, repair dripping faucets, adjust doors that don’t close properly, and replace broken switch plates.

Add space and light

Today’s trend is toward open floor plans, plenty of natural light, and room to move around.

Part of it is a desire for togetherness – if you’re the family cook, you may want family and friends in view, and a kitchen open to family rooms or large windows overlooking a patio or deck will give you that benefit.

Part of it is a desire for convenience. You may want room for a home office or a guest room; you may want large walk-in closets or storage spaces; you may want separate entertainment areas for adults and teens; or you may want additional bathrooms. If so, you’re not alone. These features are on many buyers’ most wanted lists and will add value if and when you’re ready to sell.

What can you do to an existing home to create more space and light?

Knock out walls between adjoining rooms – perhaps to create a large master bedroom or to join living space or eating space with cooking space.

Widen doorways. This not only gives a feeling of more space, but will make your home more accessible to the wheelchair-bound.
Add square footage by building a sun room, outdoor kitchen, or deck. According to NAR’s “21 Hot Housing Trends” predictions, interest in spending time outdoors is growing, so homes with outdoor kitchens, showers adjacent to pools, and hot

tubs will be on buyers’ “most wanted” lists. Pet perks are also in, so the convenience you give yourself by installing private dog runs or a doggie wash station will add to the value when you’re ready to sell.

Add a window, or enlarge existing windows. The more you can bring the outdoors in, the better.

Cut a pass-through / viewing space between the kitchen and living room. Again, you’re adding air and the feeling of space, but without structural changes.

Finish a basement. Depending on accessibility to the outdoors you may or may not be able to add bedrooms in the basement, but you can certainly add an office, an organized storage space, a workshop, or an entertainment area. Unless you plan to stay long enough to get full personal benefit from the investment, do stick with choices that most people would be willing to pay for. Don’t install a home theater, a dark room, or a wine with the intention of getting full return on the dollars you’ll spend when it’s time to sell.

Re-purpose a small, unused bedroom into a bathroom and/or closet spaces accessed from the adjoining rooms.

Tuck a powder room into the space beneath the stairs.

And then the easiest cure of all – remove heavy drapes and replace them with sheer curtains and blinds that can be opened to let the outdoors in. If, like so many others, you love light, then this change alone will be worth far more than the cost in terms of lifting your spirits.

Enhance Your Curb Appeal

The view from the curb is every visitor’s first impression of you and your home. It not only showcases the value of your home, it reflects your pride of ownership and your attention to caring for your surroundings.

To make a fantastic first impression, look at your home’s exterior with a stranger’s eye. Then:

If you have a fence, make sure it’s standing tall and straight and the gate swings correctly. Paint it or stain it if needed.

Take care of the lawn – does it need fertilizer? Are there bare spots to fill in? Naturally you want to keep it freshly mowed and edged.

Look at your plantings. If shrubbery or tree branches are overgrown or obscuring the house, trim them. If shrubs or trees have dead branches, prune them. If you have flower beds, keep them well-watered, trimmed, and weed-free.
Is your driveway stained? Clean it. If it has cracks, hire an expert to patch them. In some neighborhoods it could pay to remove the concrete and brick the driveway, but only if it’s in keeping with the surrounding homes. Remember that over-improving relative to other homes in the neighborhood is almost never cost-effective and could even harm your chances of a sale when that day comes.

How does the roof look? Does it need power washing? Do the rain gutters need to be cleaned? Note that if the roof looks like it’s nearing the end of its useful life, re-roofing won’t increase the value, but it will maintain the value.
Whatever your siding, it should be clean. If it’s painted, it should look fresh. Again, this may not increase the value, but will help you maintain the value. If you are unable to repaint the entire house, at least address the trim – making sure there is no peeling paint.

Windows should, of course, be undamaged and sparkling clean, as should the doors. If your door is outdated, dented, or scratched, consider replacing it. The door is the “welcome” to the house and does make a big impression. Don’t forget the screens – tears and holes shout of neglect.

What about landscaping?

Don’t do it unless it is YOUR heart’s desire. When you do get ready to sell, extensive landscaping may appeal to some buyers while it will repel others. Why? Because extensive landscaping means extensive care and maintenance, and not everyone wants to spend that kind of time and/or money on the home’s exterior.

So maintain what you have, making it look its best. Add some colorful flowers to give added appeal. But don’t spend thousands on professional landscaping unless it’s going to give you a great deal of personal enjoyment, because you probably won’t recoup your investment when it’s time to sell.

Update the kitchen and bathrooms

As the most-used rooms in the house, kitchens and bathrooms are often thought to be the most important rooms as well. Making these two areas shine will give you personal enjoyment, increase your home’s value, and make it sell faster when that day comes.

And the best part is that while new cabinets, counter-tops, floors, fixtures, and/or appliances are expensive, some significant upgrades can be made for surprisingly little money.

For a few hundred dollars or less, you can:

Upgrade light fixtures

Install new faucets

Replace kitchen or bathroom sinks

Hang new curtains

Repaint cabinets

Update door and drawer pulls

Re-grout tile

Repaint the walls and ceiling

Speaking of paint… Another of the hot housing trends predicted by Realtormag for 2015 is kitchens in shades of white. All-white kitchens are once again in demand, but in contrast to the white of past years, today “all white” means shades of white. The same kitchen might include a stark white ceiling, creamy white cabinets, and walls with a hint of blue-gray.

Good news: Cabinetry that’s outdated by its wood tone no longer needs to be replaced. It can be stripped, sanded, painted white, and made trendy with the latest in bigger, bolder hardware.

Remember that upgrades to one room should be in keeping with the rest of the house. If you have a 50’s bungalow, don’t go high-tech in the kitchen, because it won’t fit and could actually lower the value of your home.
Fresh paint always gives a home a lift, and painting with neutrals will give you a perfect backdrop on which to play with the bold shades that are “in” this year.

According to HouseBeautiful.com, for 2015 the “in” neutral is gray, in shades from nearly white to charcoal.