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Home Improvements and Renovations that Increase your Home Value

If you will be selling your home soon (and even if you aren't), you can create the most value when you are able to benefit in multiple ways from your home improvement. The best projects to work on include any ones that are energy efficient, low maintenance, good quality, and reasonably priced. While every local market is different, here are some of the common areas that typically will give you extra bang for your buck in home remodeling projects:

Bathroom renovation is a cost-effective way to increase home price

7 Best Home Remodeling Projects For Home Improvement

1. Kitchen Renovation

It's true, kitchens and bathrooms sell a home! Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, we will start the list off with kitchen remodeling. A minor kitchen renovation will bring a 98.5% return on investment, so smart design choices are key! There are a few things you can do to update this space that keep your home renovation costs low. And if done right, your home price can increase 3 to 7 percent.

  • You can add paint to the walls and cabinets. White or grey seem to be the hottest trend in color palettes right now but each home is unique, so do what speaks to you in your individual home. However, it's always smart to keep the color choice fairly neutral if you plan to sell your home anytime in the future. Of course, it is cheaper to resurface and paint cabinet doors than to replace the entire cabinets. But exercise caution in doing this yourself as a poor quality paint job can detract from perceived value.
  • Updating your kitchen with energy efficient, modern, stainless steel appliances can do a lot to change the look and feel of your kitchen.
  • Because buyers look for features that will save them time and work, consider a new countertop that is easy to clean and will not stain easily, such as granite or quartz.
  • Along the lines of stress-free living, consider a flooring material that is easy to clean. There are affordable commercial grade vinyl/linoleums out there but be careful as overuse of those can detract from a home's value. Most buyers today are looking for hard floor surfaces such as tile or wood for easy maintenance and durability. There are some amazing new products available now such as plank-style ceramic tile that looks a lot like real hardwood but is much more durable and water resistant. It's a very popular choice right now and comes in many beautiful colors.
  • Consider something as simple as changing the cabinet door pulls or putting in new sink faucets can go a long way in sprucing up your kitchen.

2. Bathroom Remodel

A minor bathroom remodel will bring back a 102% return on investment, and as noted above, bathroom renovations are just as important as kitchen renovations. Your bathroom remodel cost doesn't have to break the bank. You can follow all of the recommendations for the kitchen design: paint the cabinet/vanity and the walls, add stone countertops such as marble or quartz, install easy to clean ceramic flooring, put on new cabinet door pulls, and replace faucets.

Adding attractive accessories such as a matching rug and modern shower curtain will really pull homebuyers in. Swapping the shower head or toilet for an energy efficient one will also help, which brings us to the next tip.

3. Focus on Energy Efficiency

Lowering the cost of energy in your home will be a great selling feature for you when you go to sell, and can raise the value of your home! Calculate the return on investment for energy efficiency projects with Energy Star financial calculators.

  • Go with energy-efficient appliances and hot water heaters, maybe even a tankless water heater. Energy-Star rated appliances will not only help you save money, it is also better for the environment!
  • Swap out your light bulbs with energy efficient, LED (light-emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs. Not only do they emit less energy, but they give off less heat, allowing your cooling costs to stay down, and this can positively impact your energy bill.
  • Energy efficient insulation is the number one item that will add the highest value to your home. Though it is a concern for many homebuyers, fiberglass insulation will bring in a 107.7% return nationally. Loose-fill fiberglass insulation is one of the most eco-friendly options out there, and insulating your attic with fiberglass will surely bring back more than you put in. Also, along with insulating areas of the home, seal cracks and leaks with caulk. The areas of most concern are around doors and windows, around light switches and electrical outlets, around the lighting, in the attic and basement and anywhere that wires or ducts go outside.
  • Energy efficient windows with an Energy Star certified low-E coating will not only save you money, but will also make the inside and outside of your home look more appealing. Homebuyers are also looking to bring the outside in. This can be done with larger glass doors and windows. Keep in mind, this one can get a little costly if trying to do the entire home, so if you plan on selling right away, you may not get this entire investment back.
  • Some homebuyers look specifically for homes that offer renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydro-powered energy and geothermal energy, among others.

The value of adding energy efficiency can increase the home sales price anywhere from 1 to 3 percent. Homes that haven't been updated with energy efficient features cost much more to live in and also more to maintain, and some homebuyers ask to see a copy of your energy bills before making a decision. By making some or all of these changes, your home will be much more appealing to homebuyers. The best part of going more energy efficient and eco-friendly is while you save money, you also qualify for tax credits and rebates!

4. Technology

Smart home technology plays a huge part in some buyers' expectations when shopping for a new home.

  • Integrated high-tech systems can make a home more secure by allowing you to see anyone who comes to the door through your cell phone, even if you aren't home! You can also monitor the home’s temperature, lights, locks, and more, with the touch of a button, wirelessly from anywhere. There are also new home devices that detect gas leaks, water leaks, monitors temperature, fire, and much more, really aiding in home security and safety.
  • Technology also helps with functionality in your home appliances, whole house central vacuums, touchless water faucets and whole house generators for power failure, to name a few.

The home price can increase by 3 to 5% with smart technology changes. You will want to always consider the "shelf life" of any technology upgrades you make though — as technology always seems to be replaced with something bigger and better at the speed of light these days.

Home renovation can include remodeling the outside of your house

5. Outdoor Living

Outdoor living space has become almost as important as indoor dwelling areas to many homebuyers. Just having beautiful landscaping can bring in at least 100% return on investment and lure buyers in with curb appeal. Exterior home improvements bring in at least a 95.5% return, and home price can increase by 3 to 5 percent!

  • Something as simple as replacing your front door will go a long way in selling your house! For extra credit, paint it a cheery color to invite would-be buyers in. Not only will this help with energy efficiency and security, it really goes a long way for curb appeal. Changing out your garage door also has value. With today's options, you can be creative with color, glass, material and style.
  • Replacing siding shows the new homeowner that you take care of your home, and helps with durability and maintenance-free living, which many of today's homebuyers are looking for. Vinyl is low cost siding, and fiber-cement (Hardiplank) is more expensive. In some areas, buyers are looking for higher quality. If that's the case, cement board siding is the way to go! Regardless, if your siding currently has asbestos, you should hire a professional to give you an estimate and do the replacement as asbestos is a dangerous material and can cause health issues. And if replacing siding, this is an excellent time to re-wrap the home's exterior before the siding goes back on for added energy efficiency.
  • The addition of a deck or patio allows a homeowner to expand living space without the high dollar price of adding on indoor space. It also makes enjoying your outside space more pleasurable during the right seasons and attracts potential new buyers with the hope of entertaining their own guests outside easily.
  • Landscaping is a very cost effective way to update and add value to your home. Just keeping your shrubs trimmed and grass mowed can go a long way. You can also add color and appeal with different types of flowers, bright green grass, colored mulch, and a variety of trees and shrubs. Just be cautious to choose the right plants for your home's "zone", and if you don't have a green thumb try not to go overboard with plants that require a lot of watering!

Give careful thought to building a swimming pool as that requires a lot of maintenance and limits your pool of potential buyers who are willing to maintain it. If having to choose, skip the pool and instead add a space where many can gather, such as a fire pit, a grill and seating area, or an outdoor kitchen. If it's your forever home, feel free to add a swimming pool if you're comfortable with the ongoing maintenance and expense.

Just keep in mind that the exterior is the first thing a homebuyer sees when coming to view your home so every decision matters!

6. Paint

A fresh coat of paint will do wonders for the look and feel of your house. This goes for walls, cabinets, doors, and maybe even the "statement piece" of accent furniture! Just a fresh coat of paint not only modernizes your home, but it also protects it from wear-and-tear and the elements. Painting during house renovation can increase the home sale price by 1 to 2 percent!

Neutrals, greys, whites, and off-whites are the most popular colors for the interior of your home when considering putting your home on the market. This is because, by neutralizing the color scheme, you allow the homebuyer to envision themselves living there, and that's the goal when selling your home! You might want to use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint because it doesn't contain dangerous chemicals, has less odor, and is more eco-friendly.

And keep in mind the dangers of lead-based paint. If your home contains lead, consider a professional when dealing with the possible need to remove it. Sellers of homes that were built prior to 1978 are required to sign a special disclosure when selling to potential buyers.

7. Finishing Existing Space in your Home

Our last tip is to finish any spaces that are unusable or unfinished; this can add tremendous value to your home. Home additions can get quite costly, but you can add more living square footage by finishing an attic or a basement space. Finishing attic space will bring in 93.5% return on investment, but can bring as high as 105% back in certain areas. The home price can increase 4 to 6 percent after this type of home renovation. The floor, ceiling, and walls are already there as a framework, so this saves a ton of money compared to adding onto your home! Here are some ways to add value:

  • Turn your attic into a bedroom suite. Just make sure, if considering this, you check your county codes for restrictions! This would also be a good space to turn into a game room, office, studio, or in-home movie theatre.
  • Attic renovation to improve value of home
  • Although typically you will get less per square foot back on any living space under ground level, finishing the basement will also add value to your home, especially if making this space into a small apartment that can then become an income-producing space! You can also consider making this space a second living area or even a game room! Every local market is different so check with a trusted real estate appraiser, or get advice from your Real Estate Agent before deciding to take the leap.
  • If your home has only one bathroom, consider finding space in your home to add another bathroom without having to add square footage onto your home. You can do this by adding it to the attic or basement as described above, or even converting a closet or the space under the staircase into a bathroom.

Small Home Improvement Projects and Home Repairs Help Sell Your House

The goal is to spend the least amount of money to get the highest return on your investment. This can easily be handled by taking on little projects over the time that you own the home. Different homebuyers will pay more or less for different things so it is important to know your market. Check with your Real Estate Agent for the best advice. For example, in areas with many empty nesters, they will appreciate a home with a first floor master as they face retirement. Many younger homebuyers work from home and need a space devoted to a home office.

If you stay on top of home repair and fixing parts as they wear and break, you won't have as much to do right before selling your home. Repair a roof leak to prevent further damages, do routine preventative maintenance on major systems such as heating and air, electrical, and plumbing, and prevent mold from forming by making sure your crawlspace is dry. Keep your home safe, solid, and well cared for, and your wallet and future buyer will thank you for it.

Finally, keep in mind that the best way to get the highest return on your investment is to do as much of the work yourself as you can. Even doing just some of these suggestions yourself can save you tons. If you must hire a professional, we suggest you get multiple quotes and check references to ensure your home renovations are a pleasant experience with great return on your investment!

Want more advice about all things home — including homebuying or selling advice? Nestiny is a great place for homebuyer education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a Ready Report that will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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