Photo by Phil Hearing
When selling an old home, you might be forced to part with it for a much lower price than you originally paid it for. However, there are a lot of things you can do to avoid that long before you even put it on the market.
It will definitely cost some money, but – if you’re smart about it – your return on investment will be tremendous and you’ll attract a lot more potential buyers too.
When it comes to home renovations, repairs, upgrades, and other projects aimed at improving the value of your home, make sure to pay attention to the current market value of your home compared to the value of similar homes near you.
For example, if the houses around you are topping out at $350,000 and your home is already valued at $300,000, keep your budget for the upgrades below $50,000 so you can at least break even after the sale.
With that said, here are 11 clever ways to quickly improve the value of your home.
1 – Remodel Your Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of every home. According to top real estate professionals, the kitchen should be the first room you focus on when doing upgrades since it carries the most weight when buyers are trying to decide whether or not to buy a home. A kitchen also has the highest ROI; you can expect to get around 85% of kitchen remodeling costs back when your home sells.
The first thing you should do in the kitchen is replace your old appliances with new, modern ones. New kitchen appliances show potential buyers that the home is up-to-date and makes them feel better about buying the place. When buying new appliances, try to get matching ones.
Next, replace any outdated cabinets and revive old kitchen flooring with newer vinyl or tile options. Depending on your budget, you might want to opt for hardwood. Also, new cabinets can transform your kitchen for the better, making it look like a whole new home. If the cost is too high, you can also consider hiring a resurfacing service to clean and stain the old cabinets making them look good as new.
Lastly, I recommend installing quartz or granite countertops. Let’s face it: they look much better than what you probably have now, and they’re more durable. Yes, it’ll be expensive. However, the impact will be huge when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Try to match the countertops with your cabinets.
2 – Paint
A new paint job is the easiest, and probably the cheapest, way to boost the value of your home. A home with a fresh coat of paint looks much newer than it really is. When done everywhere, a fresh coat of paint can make a 30-year-old home look like it’s just 5 years old. Plus, painting the outside of your house attracts potential buyers from far and wide while giving them a good perception of your house as they approach.
Start with the exterior paint job. If you have enough in your budget, you can repaint the entire house to make it look new and gorgeous from the outside. If you’re on a tighter budget, you can simply repaint the front door and garage door and leave the other areas as they are.
For the interior, you should ideally repaint the entire home. However, if that isn’t financially feasible, start with the most commonly used spaces such as the living room, kitchen, main bathroom, and master bedroom. While you’re at it, remove any wallpaper you might have in the house and replace them with a fresh coat of paint. If you’re also remodeling the kitchen, try to match the new paint job with the new fixtures and appliances.
Regardless of where you’re painting, you should only use neutral tones like beige, muted green, or even just a simple white finish. You may think that a bold color like purple looks great in your master bedroom, but it could be a turnoff for many buyers. Avoid both bright colors such as yellow or pink and dark shades like chocolate brown or navy since some buyers see them as polarizing. Stick to neutral tones, they’ll appeal to more buyers.
3 – Focus on Curb Appeal
Another thing that has a huge impact on the value of your home is curb appeal. Curb appeal is what everyone sees when they pass by your house. For potential buyers, it sets the tone for what they can expect when they enter. It not only boosts the value of the home, but it also acts as an advertising feature that attracts interested buyers who could be passing by.
Here are four things that you can do to increase your home’s curb appeal:
A – Make Your Lawn Great Again
A healthy lawn is one that has natural green grass covering the entire space and is free of weeds. It should also be well trimmed and look neat. If your lawn sounds nothing like this, consider hiring a gardener to work on it and make it perfect. They should mow it neatly and get rid of any weeds you might have. If there are large bare patches, they can reseed it or install sod to make the lawn pop. You should never consider installing a synthetic lawn since it’s off-putting for most buyers.
B – Plant Trees
If you have enough space for it, you should definitely plant trees in strategic areas around your home. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, they can add $1,000-$10,000 to the value of your home.
Trees also have many benefits new home buyers really love. They keep the air clean and hold your soil together, decrease your energy costs by blocking the sun and cold winds, increase privacy, and provide shade to relax under during hot summer days.
When planting trees, go for native species and keep in mind that they’ll grow. Leave enough space for them to grow, and don’t plant them under power lines or too close to the house.
C – Add Flowers and Shrubs on Pathways and Along the Edges of the House
Having healthy flowers and shrubs makes your home look open, inviting, and well taken care of. Planting them along pathways makes guests walking into your home feel like royalty as they make their way inside. Use bright, colorful, and sweet smelling flowers like hibiscus, azaleas, brown-eyed Susans, or zinnias. If the shrubs are already planted, make sure they’re well trimmed and neat.
D – Install a New Mailbox
Believe it or not, something as simple as a mailbox can have an impact on your home’s value and how buyers view it. If the owners cares so much about something as insignificant as a mailbox, they must also care about the other areas of the home, right?
4 – Make Necessary Repairs
One of the things that will definitely work against you when trying to get a good price for your home are repair issues. Most buyers prefer to buy a home that’s ready for occupation and free from repair issues. Most don’t want to have to spend more money immediately after investing a huge chunk of change for their down payment.
Don’t get me wrong: there are buyers who specifically look for damaged homes to flip them for a profit after fully remodeling them, but those folks are looking for a cheap home to begin with. They know that a home that needs a lot of repairs is one that already has lost a lot of value.
Even if you’re a DIY guy or gal, hire a professional to come in and thoroughly inspect your home for repair issues regardless of whether you want to be the one to fix them. They’ll catch things you might not have thought of and can give you tons of low hanging fruit to work on that can ultimately add value to your home.
While you’re at it, consider replacing major components and fixed appliances such as your water heater or furnace. Make sure to add the repair costs to your asking price when you decide to sell your house.
5 – Add Square Footage or Modify Your Floor Plan
One thing that will definitely add value to your home is increasing space or the perception of it. Square footage has a significant impact on value, and buyers will always notice when a house looks more spacious and open.
The following are five ways you can add more space to your home:
A – Extensions
This is simply adding a room or two to the house. If you have the space, you can consider adding a room to your home. Adding an extra bedroom has the most impact as the number of bedrooms is one of the biggest determinants of the price of a home. Adding a decent-sized bedroom will broaden your buyer list and boost value.
An extra bathroom is also a great idea, especially if your home is one of those old-style homes that only has one bathroom. Whatever you decide, just make sure that the extension is well-done and that it blends in perfectly with the home. A new buyer should not be able to easily tell that it’s an extension.
B – Tear Down Some Walls
The old style of construction usually divides every room with walls creating a closed off and choppy look that most people no longer like. Today, people tend to prefer homes with a more open design. If your home has too many walls, you should consider taking some of them down to create more space and an open feel. As long as the wall you’re destroying isn’t load bearing, you should be able to do this in less than a week. The most commonly removed wall is the one between the kitchen and living room.
C – Finish Your Basement
Most homeowners neglect their basements, leaving them as dust- and pest-filled spaces where they stash their old stuff. This really shouldn’t be the case because a basement has quite a number of uses if you plan properly. Your basement can be a fantastic man cave, a place where your kids hang out when they’re not at school, or even a special guest suite for friends and family staying the night. Finishing your basement so it can be used for these sorts of things will definitely increase the value of your home.
D – Converting the Attic
Just like the basement, the attic is another space that most homeowners neglect and fail to use well. Most attics are filled with old stashed items, cobwebs, and lots of dust. This sounds gross, but there could also be a whole slew of pests living up there, especially if you don’t go their often. Depending on the size of your attic, you can convert it into a bedroom, an office, or even a bathroom. It will be costly, but it also has one of the highest ROI’s.
E – Build a Deck
A deck is a great way to add some outdoor space to your home to boost its value. Decks are the perfect place to relax with family and enjoy a barbecue every now and then. When a potential buyer sees that your home has a deck, they’ll immediately start thinking of the possibilities and picture themselves relaxing there with friends and family. When building a deck, remember that it’s a permanent addition to the house, so follow the building codes to the letter especially in regard to distance from property lines.
6 – Bathroom Remodeling
The bathroom is another area that you should consider upgrading. It doesn’t have nearly the same impact as a kitchen renovation, but it still packs quite a punch.
We all know how gross a bathroom can get after many years of use. There’s also a chance that many of the fittings and fixtures in your bathroom are outdated or damaged, which is why you should do the upgrade.
When upgrading bathrooms, how you go about it depends on how many you have in your home and who uses them. If your home only has one bathroom, you should definitely upgrade it. If your home has multiple bathrooms, you should start by upgrading the master bathroom.
After all, the person buying the home will be the one using it, so you want them to have an exquisite bathroom. The other bathroom that you should remodel is the common one used by everyone, including guests. Unless you have the cash to splash, ignore the bathrooms in the other rooms. They don’t really have that much of an impact.
Worth noting, a complete renovation isn’t usually necessary when remodeling a bathroom. You should first tackle inexpensive elements like vanities, toilets, and fixtures before moving on to the more expensive ones such as new floors, new tiles, etc.
7 – Unclutter and Depersonalize
One of your worst enemies when trying to make a great impression on potential buyers is too much clutter in your house or too many personal items lying around. It’s almost inevitable to have clutter in a home. We’re always buying stuff for but never throwing out the old. After buying a new television, most people would rather stash the old one in the basement instead of tossing it or giving it away, even if they never plan on using it again. It gets even worse if you have young kids or pets.
To get rid of clutter, you’ll have to do a deep inspection of your home. Take a good look at everything in your house and ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” You’ll find that there are so many things in your house taking up valuable space that you probably don’t need. You can simply get rid of, sell, or donate these things. You can also rent a storage unit and keep them there until you sell your house. Don’t forget to empty your closets partially; buyers love to see how much storage space they have to work with. Without clutter, your home will look better and more spacious, which also boosts value.
Depersonalizing involves removing personal items from the vicinity of the potential buyers. When a buyer walks into the house, you want them to imagine themselves living there, which will be quite difficult if there are pictures everywhere of your family and other personal items lying around. You should remove most of these personal items and only leave a few to make the house look warm, welcoming, and homely. Store these items in your storage unit as well.
8 – Professional Cleaning
No matter how good you think you are at keeping your home clean, there’s a high chance that it’s full of dirt in places where you can’t get to on your own. The cleanliness of your home will be among the first things buyers notice, and it won’t really matter how great your new marble countertop looks if it’s covered in crumbs. A dirty house is also likely to have bad odors, which could immediately put off potential buyers.
Before selling your home, hire a professional cleaning service to deep clean every inch of your home to ensure that it looks immaculate and smells amazing. Cleaning companies have the expertise and specialized equipment needed to clean every corner and crevice of your house. Cleaning also exposes other defects in the house, such as areas that need repairs or repainting.
Don’t forget to clean the exterior as well. A pressure washer should be able to blast away grime and dirt from the sidings and the driveway.
9 – Improve the Lighting
Nothing kills a mood quicker than poor lighting, and if you wish to show your house in the best light possible, you will need to do exactly that!
First of all, you should let in as much natural light as possible by keeping the windows clean and getting rid of light-blocking window treatments that don’t really help.
Next, you should replace old bulbs with modern LEDs that are brighter and more energy-efficient. You can take this opportunity to install mood-enhancing dimmers on switches to add a bit of drama and ambiance in rooms like the bedrooms and living room.
You can also try installing recessed lights, which looks more modern, and installing external lights in the backyard along the pathways and the driveway. All of this will help improve the value of your home.
10 – Make it Smarter
We live in the 21st century where people want machines to handle everything for them, even in their homes. “Smart homes” are now a reality, and we currently have all sorts of smart home systems available today including smart security systems, smart entertainment systems, door locks, smart lighting, voice control, smart temperature control, and many others.
There are a lot of inexpensive upgrades you can make to your home to make it smarter and future-proof. According to a survey conducted by Coldwell Banker, safety-enhancing gadgets are top of the list when it comes to smart technologies that buyers look for in new homes. That being said, you might want install some. This could mean putting in security cameras, motion sensors, fire detectors, or smart locks.
Most of these smart home systems are relatively inexpensive, but they have a huge impact on some buyers’ decisions while also improve the overall value of your home. Buyers who consider themselves “techies” are likely to pay more for a home with smart features.
11 – Home Staging
Home staging is a group of activities that homeowners and property agents do to prepare a home for sale. The aim of home staging is to show your home in its best light to make it appealing to as many buyers as possible, thereby selling the home faster and for more money.
Home staging works best for unfurnished homes. People often use furniture, arts, paintings, accessories, greenery, lights, and carpet to stage a home. These items are usually rented for the period it takes to sell the home. If the home is already furnished, the staging could involve moving some furniture around or removing some of it, but you’ll still need to add some items here and there. If you’re successful, the potential buyers will focus more on the home’s attractive features and not really notice the flaws.
You can do the staging yourself or hire a professional home staging expert to do it for you.
Although staging isn’t going to improve the value of your home in the way that a basement remodel will, this will allow you to get top dollar from potential buyers.
There you have it. Now you know 11 clever ways to quickly increase the value of your home. Get out there, and start making things happen!