4 Ways to Improve the Value of Your Home

If you are getting ready to sell your home, you may be wondering what, if any, improvements you might need to make to get a faster sale.

Many real estate agents will tell you that you need to recoup $2 of profit for every dollar spent on ways to improve the value of your home, and this is a good rule of thumb. However, like most things in life, making a quick sale on a property can be very dependent on the circumstances of either the buyer, the seller or both.

If you only get $1 back for every $1 you spend, but it means the difference between selling or not selling the property, you may want to consider making the investment.

Ways to improve the value of your home

Here’s a look at some inexpensive ways to increase home value that almost anyone can do to make everything look neat and organized.

1. Paint

Painting is the best and cheapest way of adding value to your home, but before you get out the drop cloths, paint brushes and rollers, and head to town to buy paint, evaluate your home’s condition.

Exterior

Many times, simply having the home’s exterior professionally cleaned by a pressure washing company makes it look fresh and new. Having the exterior professionally cleaned  costs less than having it painted by a professional, so you might want to go that route first.

Interior

Next, analyze the interior. Does the whole house need to be painted, or can you paint key rooms like the kitchen and bathroom and simply clean the walls and ceilings in the other rooms? If you must paint the interior, choose neutral colors and paint the ceilings white. This makes the rooms look open and airy.

2. Front Doors and Entryways Matter Most

The only exception to this “clean before painting rule” is for the front door. It’s imperative that the front entryway look clean and inviting because this is the prospective buyer’s first impression before entering your home.

Yes, curb appeal is important, and potential buyers do size up the property as they get out of the car and walk toward your house, but the door is the first thing they see, touch and hear. If the door needs painting, paint it. If it needs replacing or repairing, do that. Spare no expense on making the first impression count.

3. Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms sell a house. Go for modernized colors, appliances and decor. Nothing dates a house more than shag carpeting, walnut cabinets, and avocado appliances – it looks like an interior decorating advertisement from the 70s – so focus the majority of your expenditures on these rooms.

As it happens, these are also the areas where you may not be able to get a 2 to 1 return on your investment, but having a modern bathroom or kitchen is a smart way of increasing the value of your home that could make or break the sale.

The key decision is whether cleaning and refurbishing will make these rooms competitive with others in the market, or if you need to invest in kitchen and/or bathroom remodeling projects to add value to your home.

Tips for Sprucing Up Kitchens

If the cabinets aren’t too dated, sometimes a good cleaning will give them the necessary makeover. Many times, replacing the cabinet doors and installing new hardware gives any kitchen a fresh new look.

Counter tops can be relatively inexpensive if you choose low-end products like postformed countertops, but they become more costly if you opt for high-end products such as those made from granite. New countertops are usually a good investment but choose your materials carefully.  

When replacing appliances, opt for energy-efficient models, which make the home more attractive to potential buyers because they realize these appliances are energy-saving solutions for lowering their electric bill. 

remodeled kitchen

Giving Bathrooms a Facelift

Obviously if the bathroom is in need of major renovation, you’ll want to go ahead and take care of that before putting your house on the market. However, if the bathroom simply needs some TLC to make it look fresh and new, consider trying these techniques first.

  1. Clean or replace the caulking so it looks sparkling clean with no traces of dirt or mildew.
  2. Regrout the tiles. It’s inexpensive and easy to do, and the finished results are amazing.
  3. Replace those items that need updating such as stained or cracked sinks and bathtubs.
  4. Consider replacing older toilets with newer, more energy efficient models.
  5. Replace vanities and medicine cabinets if necessary.

remodeled bathroom

4. Cleaning

Cleaning is one of the easy ways to add value to your home. However, the type of cleaning we’re discussing is not the frantic run the vacuum, wipe the tops of the furniture with a dust cloth, and shove all the clutter in the closets type many of us are likely to do right before an unplanned visit by friends and family.  

To improve the value of your house by cleaning, you have to choose between two options:

  1. Investing your own sweat equity and time giving your home a complete, top-to-bottom professional cleaning.
  2. Hiring a professional to thoroughly clean your home’s interior.

Your decision, of course, is predicated on many factors such as:

  • How much time can you invest in a major project such as this?
  • Are you willing to commit to such hard labor?
  • Would hiring a professional be more time and cost-effective in the long run?

Only you can answer these questions and make that decision.

Tips for Hiring Professional Cleaners

If you decide to hire a professional but aren’t sure where to find a professional house cleaning company, ask friends or relatives for referrals of companies that they have used. Your real estate agent is a good information source because even if he or she doesn’t have a personal contact, they can check with local area builders to see who does the final cleaning on their model homes and new construction before they are placed on the market. Utilizing a well-known, reputable service such as Angie’s List is another venue to consider.

DIY Cleaning Tips

If you decide to do the cleaning yourself, you can save a lot of time and effort by decluttering the house before you start cleaning.

Declutter

Getting rid of the clutter in your house serves two purposes:

  1. The rooms appear more organized and appealing.
  2. If you arrange the remaining furniture and objects correctly, the rooms look more spacious and inviting.

Additionally, it depersonalizes the space and makes it easier for potential buyers to imagine their furniture in the living room or bedroom or their paintings on the wall of the dining room.

The best way to declutter is in phases. In phase one, simply dispose of everything that won’t be going with you to your new home. Donate usable items to charity and discard unusable items. Be ruthless – this is your chance to really “clean” house and simplify your new life.

In phase two, analyze remaining objects such as artwork, memorabilia and furniture. If you are taking it with you but you can live without it for now, pack it and store it. If you can’t live without it (beds and kitchen tables are usually necessary items), try to arrange it in the room in a manner that shows off the room to best advantage. 

From Clearing Clutter to Cleaning

Once that’s done, it’s time to gather up your cleaning supplies and do the following:

  1. Wash all windows, hardwood floors, walls and ceilings (if you aren’t painting), baseboards and trim.
  2. Clean the carpeting.
  3. Wash the globes on all ceiling lamps, chandeliers and other lighting fixtures.
  4. Clean the stove, oven, refrigerator and any other kitchen appliances that will be on display.
  5. Clean the bathroom sink, tub, toilet and fixtures.
  6. Vacuum all carpeted areas; sweep all other areas.

What Not to Do

Some improvements just don’t offer an acceptable return on investment, so avoid adding garages or pools. Don’t finish an unfinished basement, but do paint a word picture for the potential buyer of how it could look if finished.

People typically feel they can get something done cheaper or better but they may need you to give them the vision. Help them see how putting  a wood stove over here, a wet bar over there, and arranging the furniture just so will result in a cozy, intimate family room, and you’ll engage their emotions and move them closer to making a purchase offer. 

There are many ways to improve the value of your home, but some will cost more than others will and you may not get a good return on the money you spend. One of the best investments you can make when preparing to put your house up for sale is to hire a real estate agent.

Real estate professionals can help you decide which improvements will add the most value to your home while giving you the best return on investment. Because of their experience and expertise, they can market your house to best advantage and get you a quick sale.

Image Credits

“Buying New Home” courtesy of ddpavumba/Freedigitalphoto.net

Bathroom image by engindeniz under royalty free license via SXC

Remodeled Kitchen image by NancyHugoCKD.com under CC-BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr