10 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Maximizing your home’s attractiveness to buyers involves smart, strategic upgrades. Here are 10 ways to increase home value.

Increasing the value of your home can be tricky if you aren’t sure which projects you should prioritize. Should you start with the kitchen or replacing your home’s gutters? Replace the garage door or work on curb appeal?

What you should start on first really depends on your goals and budget. Perhaps you want to eventually increase the value so you can sell it in the near future or need to make repairs and aren’t sure where to start. No matter what the reasons are, focus on projects that will increase home value and give you the biggest return on investment (ROI).

Renovating your home doesn’t always mean you have to start on large projects that take six months. Start with updates that add immediate resale value and investing in choices with zero ROI down the road. For example, you may need to start with updating the gutters, siding, and replacing the garage door versus your wishlist of remodeling bathrooms, knocking down a wall to expand a room, or landscaping.

Here are 10 home projects to work on if you’re looking to add value to your home, whether your goal is to attract future buyers or want peace of mind that the projects you’re focused on are ROI positive.

1. Kitchen updates

An updated kitchen can yield one of the biggest returns on your investment, and it seems to hold particular importance for homeowners.

A 2018 homeowner survey revealed that 58 percent of homeowners will likely undergo a home renovation in the next 12 months and many said they would start in the kitchen.

The type of updating, however, can make the difference between spending a few thousand to tens of thousands. A minor kitchen update will provide an average of 80 percent ROI, compared to a major remodel, which yields a 59 percent return.

If you don’t plan on selling your home in the near future, there’s no need to tear your entire kitchen apart. There are small changes you can make that can have a big impact. These may include:

  • New, energy efficient appliances
  • Fresh coat of paint to walls and cabinets
  • New countertops
  • New flooring
  • Updating cabinet fixtures
  • New backsplash

2. Give the interior a fresh coat of neutral paint

Fresh paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the overall look and feel of your home. It makes your home look updated, which adds to the value.

Paint colors make a big difference, so choose ones that are neutral and soft. Lighter colors make rooms appear larger and more modern.

Pro tip: A popular paint color from Sherwin Williams is called Agreeable Gray, and is highly recommended by interior designers.

3. Reduce energy costs

Aim to lower the amount you spend on energy costs each month in your home.

Call your local utility company and ask about the best ways you can save on heating, windows, and appliances. Many local utility companies are happy to help you understand how you can do this.

It’s a long-term update that may prove to be valuable, especially since it’ll help you save money and increase the appeal of your property to potential buyers if you plan on selling.

Upgrades that increase the efficiency of your house include:

  • Replacing your old toilet with a low-flow one: These toilets move less water with each flush.
  • Energy-efficient appliances: Look for ones with the Energy Star symbol, which is a certification that they reduce energy.
  • Energy-efficient windows: Replacing windows with insulated vinyl windows provides you with an ROI of about 74 percent. (Here is the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s online guide to energy efficient windows.)
  • Install a smart thermostat: These are programmable and can adjust your home’s energy consumption. You can download an app to control the thermostat from your phone.

4. Improve curb appeal with low-maintenance landscaping

The exterior of a home is probably the easiest way to increase its value by making simple tweaks.

Focus on sprucing up your existing landscaping or tidying it up. You may want to replace overgrown plants with ones that are easier to maintain. Research which plants and trees are native to your climate or focus on ones that are drought-tolerant, which will require less water and maintenance. Here are more tips:

  • Strategically plant trees near windows. This may help reduce energy costs in the hot, summer months.
  • Replace flowers with perennial foliage to reduce costs.
  • Space out young shrubs, giving them space to grow.

Pro tip: An easy way to instantly give your house great curb appeal is to paint the front door or add flowers near the walkway.

5. Fix up the bathroom

Once the outside of your house and the kitchen are in good shape, focus on the bathroom. Just like the kitchen, you don’t have to go for a full-blown, upscale zen spa. It could be as simple as replacing fixtures, flooring and giving the room a fresh coat of paint.

These updates deliver a 70 percent return on investment, versus a high-end bathroom remodel with heated flooring and custom cabinets and designer fixtures—which returned an average of 56 percent.

See also: Home Maintenance Guide: Kitchens and Bathrooms

6. Replace the floors

In a survey, 54 percent of homeowners said they’d pay more for hardwood floors over carpeting.

Carpet tends to get dirty and isn’t great for people with allergies or pets. Cost-wise, however, carpet is the less expensive option. Many homes have hardwood floors in the common areas and carpet in the bedrooms. It’s also great for cold winters.

Assess the pros and cons of carpet versus hardwood, as it depends on your personal choice and budget. Then consider which materials would be best suited for your home.

7. Replace the garage door

If your garage door is old, it’s time to replace it. The ROI on a garage door replacement is about 98 percent and it’s an easy, low-cost way to instantly improve your home’s curb appeal, while upgrading your efficiency.

Consider a garage door made of steel, to help with insulation. This will help improve your home’s energy bills.

This is an easy fix that a professional can install in less than a day.

8. Replace your home’s siding

Getting new siding for your house with fiber-cement or vinyl may recoup about 79 to 83 percent of costs.

Be sure to do your research on the type of materials, as some brands may have problems with durability or mold. New siding won’t be cheap, but it lasts a long time, so be sure to buy a high quality material installed by a trained professional.

9. Finish the basement

A finished basement means adding more livable square footage to your house. Square footage has a big impact on value because many potential buyers shop for homes by comparing price-per-foot since a lot of homes are similar in style and upgrades.

A finished basement can provide a 69 percent return on investment, depending on where you live and the size of your basement. A finished basement for $300,000 homes in Georgia, for example, can add about $40,000 to $50,000 to the asking price.

10. Replace your front door with a steel door

Similar to the garage door, a door made of steel for your front door is a great investment. It will return about 91 percent because of its energy efficiency and low maintenance.

To increase home value, start with upgrades that make sense

There’s no hard rule for what upgrades you need to make. However, put a plan together and avoid jumping into a bunch of repairs that won’t impact the value of your home. Start with easy and low-cost projects, such as replacing the garage door or painting.

Do your research, talk to professionals in your area and create a space that makes you feel good about your investment and gives you the most bang for your buck.

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Claire Tak

Claire Tak is a writer and content expert with a background in personal finance. She is an advocate for improving financial transparency and literacy through content and education. Claire's work has been featured and syndicated in Bloomberg, MarketWatch, GoBankingRates, and The Motley Fool. When she's not writing, you can find her on a snowboard, watching a movie, or traveling.