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Whether you’re a first-time home buyer with an eye toward the future, or you’re ready to put your home on the market this season, you may be thinking about how to complete simple home improvements that add value to your home. The range of upgrades you may need to complete is dependent on the current condition of your home and the budget you want to spend, but this list can help you focus your efforts for the greatest return.
The first part of your home people see is the outside, so if you’re selling, it makes sense to focus your early efforts here. Many of the purely aesthetic upgrades to the outside of your home and yard are affordable and can be done by you. If you’re just moving in, you may want to focus on your living spaces first, but don’t neglect the outside in the long run.
- Landscaping – Get your lawn under control. Shape hedges, remove overgrowth, and consider adding or replacing with low-maintenance plants. These are often natives to your area, which are used to the soil and climate conditions of the region. If you’re able to think long term, consider adding shade trees, which look nice and will also cut cooling costs considerably once they mature.
- Curb Appeal – In addition to the lawn and landscaping, curb appeal includes any hardscaping you have, along with decorations. Avoid a busy or cluttered look by mixing the heights of your elements, and focus attention on the path from the street to the front door. At the door, make sure the space looks clean and open, and has some shelter from bad weather.
- Clean it Up – The term “shabby chic” shouldn’t apply to the exterior of your home. Make sure the roof is in good shape. Replace bad siding or broken brickwork. Give the exterior a thorough power wash (you’ll be surprised how much difference that will make!). And consider a new coat of paint.
Make Basic Changes Inside
You don’t have to go overboard to improve your home’s function and value. Even a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Focusing on the quality of your living spaces is key.
- Upgrade the Kitchen and Bathroom – Nearly every professional out there will tell you to start your upgrades in the kitchen. For as little as $300, you can improve the value of your home by several percentage points. New fixtures and lighting are a great place to start. Also, repair any small but noticeable issues, like leaky faucets or broken tiles.
- Walls and Ceilings – A new coat of paint is a great, cost-effective way to freshen up a room. Even just touching up molding and window frames can make a big difference. If you don’t mind getting a little messy, do away with those popcorn ceilings! (Note that some older ceilings may contain asbestos. If you’re not sure, have yours tested by professionals before beginning this project.)
- Open up Space – Open floor plans are very popular right now. If you have a half wall that doesn’t add storage and isn’t load bearing, consider removing it to open up space. Adding mirrors can make existing spaces look larger, and replacing heavy drapes with good quality blinds or shutters can bring in more natural light.
- GO GREEN! – Did you know that many local utility companies offer free audits for their customers? Find out where your home could be more efficient and focus efforts there. Upgrade old fixtures, like ceiling fans, and invest in smart technology, like automatic thermostats, that can reduce your home’s energy usage.
Call a Professional
If you look around your house and you’re not sure where to start, a professional can help.
- Professional Cleaners and Organizers – Homes on the market are often homes still in use. It’s best for your home to look tidy and open, and professional organizers can help. Professional cleaners can get out deep stains and get to all the nooks and crannies your Swiffer cannot.
- Real Estate Professionals – If you’re on a budget but want to make some aesthetic changes before your home is listed, a real estate professional can help guide your efforts. He or she can let you know which features buyers are most interested in and how to prioritize your time.
- Home Inspectors – If you’ve recently purchased your home, you know how it performed in a recent inspection. But if you’ve lived there for years, it may be time to have another one done. Home inspectors can spot issues before they become full-blown problems, which can help you prioritize large-scale upgrades like roof repairs or updating old electrical systems.
Things to Avoid
It may be tempting to make certain aesthetic investments to your home because you think it will help it sell. But if it doesn’t add value to the house, you could be throwing money down the drain unnecessarily. Avoid these home improvement temptations:
- Permanently Converting Rooms – You might think that spare bedroom would look great as a study. But don’t rip out the closet to put in built-in bookshelves just yet. Consider how future owners may want to use the space. If you make any changes, make sure they could be easily undone by the next owners.
- Wall-to-Wall Carpets – If you have hardwood floors, even if they aren’t in the best shape, don’t waste money covering them over with carpet. Most home buyers right now want hardwood floors. If you prefer a softer feel on your feet, consider investing in area rugs that can be easily moved or cleaned.
- Overdoing the Upgrades – Putting in fancy lighting because it looks nice. Painting the dining room deep red, just because. Putting in a pool. Rehabbing your garage. These are great things to do if you’ve just moved in and these changes improve your experience with the property. But if you’re moving out, save your money. Instead, point out the potential for the space and let the new buyer decide.
- Going against the House Type – Not all upgrades are created equal. Granite counter tops are nice, but if you add them to a 1930s bungalow, they’re going to be out of place. Make your house the best it can be, but keep your upgrades true to its style.
Do these home improvements make you more confident about listing your home on the market? If you still have questions, our Beverly-Hanks professionals are here to help. Contact us today to request a copy of our Seller’s Guide, which offers unsurpassed local knowledge for WNC home sellers.