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How To Increase Your Home’s Value

Kim Porter12-Minute Read
November 17, 2020

If your home has begun to lose its luster, you may be thinking about making some improvements to liven it up. While remodeling can increase your enjoyment and the marketability of your home, it can also drain your financial resources and add little value to your property.

You don’t want to pour money into projects that the majority of buyers won’t be interested in, but it can be challenging to guess which undertakings are worth the cost. To help you weigh your options and determine which home improvements are really right for you and your bank account, we’ve gathered insight from experts in the field.

Which Home Improvements Increase Value?

When people talk about home improvements that add value, what they’re really discussing is the type of renovations home buyers are willing to pay more for. The value that you add to your home is really only seen when you sell. That’s why adding value means increasing mass appeal.

Look At The Neighborhood

When asked which home improvements add the most value, Teris Pantazes, co-founder of Settle Rite, a home improvement contractor, says, “The first thing I recommend a homeowner does is look at neighborhood sales to see what the more expensive homes have which their home might be missing. That is your ultimate guide.”

By looking at the homes in your neighborhood, you can determine how your home currently stacks up against the future competition. Viewing the updates and renovations your neighbors have made will help you gauge what features will be important to have in your home if you ever decide to sell. However, you don’t want the improvements you make to stand out against the rest of your home.

“The absolute best remodels are the ones you can’t even see,” says Justin Riordan, interior designer, architect and founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency, a home staging company. “They blend in seamlessly with the rest of the house. If a new buyer walks into a home and says, ‘Wow, they took really good care of this completely original home,’ then you did a perfect job.”

Prioritize Quality

Quality matters. If you put a lot of time and money into remodeling but use materials that look cheap or shabby, you won’t see a return on your investment. Instead, use high-quality materials and selectively pick the projects that will enhance the appearance and utility of your home.

Decide If It’s Your Forever Home

The amount of work you should put into the home depends partly on how long you intend to stay there – but not all value is measured in terms of money. Your comfort and satisfaction are also important.

If you’ve just started a family and you plan to stick around for the long haul, then you’ll have years to enjoy the upgrades and recoup the costs when you sell. But if your youngest child just graduated and you’re looking to move in the next 5 – 7 years, then prioritize projects that will help your home sell – generally, upgrades with universal appeal.

Know What Buyers Are Looking For

When giving your home an update, you’ve got to think about what you’ll enjoy, while keeping potential home buyers in mind. Right now, Americans are generally looking for ways to maximize their space and create havens out of their homes.

That’s why home offices, open floor plans and areas that encourage a healthy lifestyle have all emerged as desirable features. Home buyers are also looking for “smart” features, energy efficiency and lots of storage.

Before You Start

There’s a lot to think about when determining which projects to take on. That’s why before you decide to jump in, you should take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want to get out of my remodel?
  • How much money can I afford to spend on the work?
  • How long do I plan on living in my home?
  • How does my home compare to the other homes in the area?

Because most of us don’t have an endless supply of funds, it’s important to prioritize the work that you do. While your primary concern may be the satisfaction you get from your remodeling, you still want to make sure that the home improvements you make add value to your property more generally.

9 Home Improvement Ideas That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

1. Enhance Your Home’s Exterior

Curb appeal is the extent to which your home looks attractive from the street. The exterior of your home is the first thing that guests and potential buyers will see, and first impressions are always important.

To determine what needs a bit of TLC, walk outside and examine your home. Make sure your mailbox is in good shape, your front door looks freshly painted, and your pathways and gutters are clean.

Improving your home’s exterior can have an outsized impact when you’re ready to sell. Take one example: You may recoup 95.6% of the cost of updating your home with manufactured stone veneer, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2020 report.

How Much Will It Cost?

If you’re looking to swap your siding with manufactured stone veneer, it will cost $9,357 on average. But keep in mind, the average resale value increases by $8,943 – meaning you could recover almost all of the renovation costs when you sell.

2. Improve Your Home’s Landscape

Landscaping is very important to the value of your property because it also greatly influences your home’s curb appeal.

Before you add anything to your property, make sure the trees and shrubs you already have look good. Then you can move on to improvements:

  • Trim and prune trees and shrubs.
  • Add some colorful plants, bushes and trees to the landscaping.
  • Use plants from your local garden center. Ones that are native to your state will do best.
  • Add some landscaping bricks, mulch and rocks.

How Much Will It Cost You?

According to Pantazes, landscaping a single-family home will require you to spend at least $1,000. “You need to have season-appropriate planting, mulch and power washing,” he says.

3. Paint Your Walls

When your rooms are looking a bit tired, sometimes all you really need is a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the space.

“It is valuable to repaint walls because it covers dents, dings, markings and nail holes. Painting adds a look of freshness and newness that an older home may not have without it,” says Robyn Flint, licensed REALTOR® and home insurance specialist at Expert Insurance Reviews.

In the planning phase, be careful about the colors you choose. Dark colors tend to make rooms look smaller, so avoid them in rooms that don't get much natural light. Lighter grays and beiges can lighten rooms and make them look bigger. Plus, they may appeal to more potential buyers.

How Much Will It Cost?

Painting may not seem to add a lot of value to your home, but it tends to have the best return on investment because it costs far less than other home improvements.

“With the average 2,500-square-foot home costing about $8,000 to paint inside, this means that for about $800 in paint and materials, you can have a freshly painted home if you have the time, patience and motivation to do it yourself,” says Paige NeJame, owner of CertaPro Painters in Boston.

4. Renovate Your Kitchen

Whether it’s because you have a large, open layout or a fridge stocked with mouthwatering goodies, the kitchen tends to be the room that families spend the most time in. And the more time that you spend in a room, the more attention it deserves when it comes to home improvements. If done correctly, remodeling your kitchen can change the entire feel of your home.

“We always recommend open concepts to homeowners considering a kitchen remodel. An open concept creates harmony within adjoining spaces and increases the overall functionality of the space for homeowners to grow in with their families,” says Larry Greene, president of Case Design/Remodeling in Indianapolis.

While open kitchen layouts are extremely popular and tend to give homes a more spacious feel, not every home and budget can accommodate one. There are easier improvements you can make that don’t require a complete reconfiguration of your kitchen’s floor plan.

“If your home has older Formica or outdated granite patterns, typically a few thousand dollars (under $3,000) can modernize your countertops for a new feel,” says Pantazes. “I also recommend adding a simple, clean backsplash. Subway tile is VERY inexpensive, and it is very on trend right now.”

How Much Will It Cost You?

With so many potential changes, the numbers can add up. Raf Howery, CEO and founder of Kukun, the largest database on home improvement data and issued renovation permits in the country, has used his company’s national cost estimator to provide some insight into what you can expect.

Although prices always depend on finishes and size, he says, “The average cost for a medium-size kitchen is a little over $33,000. However, the range can go from $17,000 to $52,000. This does not leverage costs of very fancy kitchens, which can fetch $150,000 in some places. Expect to recover about 60% of your cost if you turn around and sell.”

5. Refresh Your Bathroom

We spend more of our lifetimes in the bathroom than we care to admit. So if you’re thinking about improving any room in your home, a bathroom remodel may be a good place to start. Bathrooms do not have to be works of art, but they should give off the impression of being clean, spacious and up to date.

So, what will help you make your bathroom more inviting?

Pantazes says, “Tile, tile, tile – put it in the shower from the tub to ceiling. It costs a little more but completely elevates the bathroom over a prefab insert. It is easy to update the hardware and with many drop-in vanities, you can change the feel of a bathroom in a day or two.”

If your floors and walls are nicely tiled, you may want to consider replacing the countertop in your bathroom. The countertop is one of the most conspicuous elements of the room, so a new one will have an instant impact on the look and feel of your bathroom.

“For homeowners considering a bathroom remodel, we recommend installing this year’s countertop of choice – quartz. Not only does it have a clean look that will fit into any bathroom design, but it’s much easier to clean and maintain,” says Greene.

How Much Will It Cost You?

“It depends on size and finishes, but the national average cost for a medium-size bathroom is $26,300 but can range from $12,000 on the low end to $41,000 on the high end. Again, a high-end luxury bathroom can top the $100,000 mark,” says Howery.

6. Make Your Home Smart

As tech updates become more mainstream — such as smart home appliances that can be controlled from your phone — having them in your home may help it sell in a competitive market.

In a recent Coldwell Banker survey, about two-thirds of home buyers said they prefer to have these smart products pre-installed:

  • Smart thermostats
  • Smart fire detectors
  • Smart carbon monoxide detectors
  • Smart camera
  • Smart locks
  • Smart lighting system

How Much Will It Cost?

Installing these tech upgrades might cost a little upfront, but they pay off when you sell. Here’s what home buyers might spend on average to buy and install these new pieces according to HomeAdvisor:

  • Smart thermostats: up to $350
  • Smart fire detectors: $65 for the first unit and $20 for each thereafter
  • Smart carbon monoxide detectors: $100 each
  • Smart camera: up to $200 but $1,500 for an entire system
  • Smart locks: up to $200 per lock
  • Automated system, including lighting: $793

7. Make Your Home Low Maintenance

Before taking on aesthetically pleasing projects, it’s important to make sure all of your home’s systems work. Home buyers are looking to decorate and make the place their own, not spend money repairing the home.

Hire a professional to service the HVAC every year, and regularly check the roof and plumbing system, too. These major systems should be in excellent condition, so the house passes the inspection.

If you’re selling sooner rather than later, adding a home warranty to the sale may accomplish this goal more cheaply and easily than repairs or replacements.

How Much Will It Cost?

According to HomeAdvisor, here’s what you can expect to pay to service, repair or replace your home’s major pieces:

  • HVAC: A tune-up typically costs $75 – $200, while hiring a technician for repairs might run $50 – $150 per hour. Expect to spend $7,000 on average if you need to replace the system.
  • Water heaters: Repairs cost $575 on average, while a replacement will set you back around $1,165.
  • Roof: Installing a new roof costs $8,095 on average, while repairs generally cost $550.
  • Windows: Homeowners pay around $650 to replace each window as needed.

8. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Home buyers are looking for energy-efficient homes to save on energy costs and leave a smaller carbon footprint. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, these are the most important features home buyers are looking for:

  • Windows, doors and siding installations
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • Landscaping for energy conservation
  • Solar panels installed on home

How Much Will It Cost?

A home energy auditor can help you identify ways to make your home more efficient. The consultation costs about $417 on average, but it can pay off when you save money on energy costs.

The auditor may recommend things like weatherizing the home and adding insulation. You may also decide to upgrade your appliances. Check for rebates to offset the costs, and look for the Energy Star rating, which means the appliance meets strict energy-efficiency criteria.

9. Consider Functional Additions

Now that people are spending more time at home, home buyers are looking for more space. Any money you put into extra storage space will appeal to buyers and can pay off handsomely when you sell. Additions are generally cheaper than moving, and on average, they provide a 50% return on the investment.

Think of ways you can create usable space in the home. Finished basements, garages and attics are major plusses for buyers because they can double as extra storage space or as a home office or gym. A converted bedroom can do the same.

How Much Will It Cost?

Homeowners typically spend between $13,600 – $18,400 turning a basement or garage into a living space, while they might spend upward of $40,000 finishing an attic. The price tag varies depending on your exact plans, labor, materials and where you live. But converting a bedroom into usable office space is generally cheaper and might only require a quick paint job.

How Can I Finance Home Renovations?

Home improvements are expensive, but if you’re ready to make a change and just don’t have the cash flow necessary at the moment, you may want to consider a cash-out refinance, a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit.

By using the equity in your house, you may be able to finance all the work you need to turn your property into the home you’ve always dreamed of living in. If a cash-out refinance sounds like the move for you, apply online or call (800) 785-4788 to speak to one of the Home Loan Experts at Quicken Loans®.

FAQs

Is There Any Guarantee That These Projects Will Actually Increase My Home’s Resale Value?

There’s no guarantee your home will increase in value – much of it depends on the quality of the work, the appeal of the project and whether it appeals to home buyers. So if you plan to stay in the home for the long run, prioritize projects that will improve your own living experience. What’s important to buyers a decade from now might be different from what buyers are looking for today, and popular upgrades like kitchen remodels may look dated in 10 years’ time.

If you’re still unsure about whether the improvements you want to make will provide the best return on your investment, you may want to consider asking a real estate professional to check out your home. They are a great resource as they know what’s selling in your neighborhood and can recommend the best course of action.

I Live In A Hot Seller’s Market. Do I Need To Make All These Repairs?

In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than there are homes available for sale, giving you the upper hand because buyers can’t afford to be fussy. But the housing market goes through cycles, and there’s no telling what the market will be like when you’re actually ready to sell your homes. Taking resale value into account upfront may make your home easier to sell if conditions cool down.

I Plan On Selling In The Next Couple Of Years But I Don’t Have Much Cash For Home Renovations. What Should I Do?

If you don’t think you’ll have the money for a full renovation, but you want to get the most for your house, consider staging your home. When staging, you have two main options: hire someone to stage your home when you’re ready to begin showing it or use a virtual staging software to enhance your listing photos.

Hire A Staging Company

For a fee, you can hire a professional home-staging company to make your home look its best without undertaking major renovations. These companies take care of just about everything to make your home look more inviting: deep-cleaning, painting, bringing in rental furniture and even adding decor. The price tag could reach over $2,000 depending on your needs, the size of your house and how many rooms you want staged. If you don’t want to spend thousands, you might be able to pay a smaller fee for simple consulting.

Consider Using Virtual Staging Software

Staging can be logistically difficult and expensive, but technology can also solve the problem. With virtual staging, home sellers upload photographs of their home, and professionals “stage” their home digitally. These staged photos allow buyers to see the impact of home renovations even before they’re made. It requires a little bit of legwork, though, as you’ll need professional photographers and should research which virtual staging companies do the best work.

Summary: Make Your Home A Sanctuary And An Investment

Putting some work into your home now can help it sell for the best price later on. Plus, you’ll enjoy living there even more if you’re spending a lot of time at home these days.

It starts with a good face lift – landscaping, painting and cleaning – but you can also tackle bigger projects to boost the home’s value. Make plans for strategic renovations, smart technology and energy-efficient appliances. If you’re ready to put your home on the market, learn more about selling your home, so you can get a good ROI on your upgrades.

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    Kim Porter

    Kim Porter is an experienced personal finance writer who focuses on mortgages, credit cards, student loans, debt and more. She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Florida. You can find her on Twitter at @kimsavesmoney or on LinkedIn.