Make your home worth more with these updates priced from less than $100 to $5,000 and up.
Home Improvements: $100 or Less
Tip 1: Spend an hour with a pro.
Invite a Realtor or interior designer over to check out your home. Many Realtors will do this as a courtesy, but you will probably have to pay a consultation fee to a designer. Check with several designers in your area — a standard hourly fee is normally less than $100.
In an hour, a professional can give you lots of ideas for needed improvements. Even small suggestions, such as paint colors or furniture placement, can go a long way toward improving the look and feel of your home.
Tip 2: Find inspiration.
Want an even cheaper alternative to a professional consultation? Search for remodeling and decorating inspiration in design-oriented magazines, books, TV shows and Web sites. Simply tear out or print off the ideas you want to try and start your to-do list. Keep it simple: when remodeling on a tight budget, do-it-yourself type projects are best.
Tip 3: Inspect it!
Not every home improvement is cosmetic. Hidden problems like deteriorating roofs, termite infestation or outdated electrical systems can negatively impact your home’s value. Hire an inspector to check out the areas of your home that you don’t normally see. Small problems, like a hidden water leak, can become expensive headaches if you put off repairs. A little investment now can save you loads of cash later.
Tip 4: Paint, paint, paint.
One of the simplest, most cost-effective improvements of all is a fresh coat of paint. Newly painted rooms look clean and updated — and that spells value. Neutral paint colors appeal to the greatest number of people, therefore making your home more desirable. On average, a gallon of paint costs around $25, leaving you plenty of money to buy rollers, tape, drop cloths and brushes. So, buy a few gallons and get busy!
Tip 5: Cut energy costs.
If you think your utility bill is a fixed amount, call your local utility company to find out. Many energy providers offer free energy audits of their customers’ homes. They can show you how to maximize the energy efficiency of your home. A power- and water-saving home will conserve your money now, and is more valuable in the long run. Plus, you can use the money you save for more updates!
Home Improvements: $100-$200
Tip 1: Plant a tree.
Plan for the future with a landscaping improvement that will mature over time: a shade tree. Not only will a mature tree make your home more desirable, it will also provide a habitat for wildlife and add curb appeal. Plus, a properly placed tree can cut your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent. So why not grab a shovel already?
Tip 2: Low-maintenance landscaping saves you money now, adds value when you sell.
Shrubs and colorful plants will add curb appeal to your home, but make sure you “think green” while you’re shopping at the local garden center. Purchase plants that are native to your region, or water-conserving drought-tolerant vegetation. These require less water and maintenance, which means you’ll save time and have a little more green in your yard and your wallet.
Tip 3: Add a money-saving luxury.
Here’s another way to tap into extra savings: install a water filtration system in your kitchen. Not only do these systems purify your water, you’ll also save the money you were spending on bottled water. A water filtration system is an inexpensive addition, but it’s the sort of small luxury that home buyers love.
Tip 4: Improve the air quality inside your home.
Air quality isn’t just about outdoor conditions –older carpets can hide contaminates and allergens. Hire a professional company to test your indoor air quality to determine if your rugs need to be replaced. When choosing new flooring, update your home with environmentally-friendly natural products like tile or laminate floors. Hard surface floors are easier to keep clean, and are usually more appealing to buyers.
Tip 5: Save the popcorn for the movies.
Few structural elements date a house more than popcorn ceilings. So dedicate a weekend to ditching the dated look and adding dollar signs to the value of your home. First, visit your local hardware store for a solution to soften the texture. Then, simply scrape the popcorn away. It’ll bring your house into the new millennium with minimal cost and effort.
Home Improvements: $200 to $400
Tip 1: A messy lawn creates a bad first impression.
Overgrown or patchy lawns and oversized bushes will cause your home to stand out — in a bad way. The good news? Taming your jungle is an easy fix. For a few hundred dollars, you can hire a lawn service company to trim your lawn and shape your hedges. Your home’s curb yard will go from cluttered to clean-cut — without blowing your budget.
Tip 2: Cleanliness counts.
You only get one shot at a first impression, so make the interior of your home shine from the entrance to the exit. For less than $400, you can hire a cleaning service for a thorough top-to-bottom scrubbing. Even if you clean your home regularly, you likely miss or overlook some nooks and crannies. Let a cleaning service do the dirty work to really make your home sparkle.
Tip 3: Visually increase your home’s square footage.
The size of your home dramatically affects its value, but square footage isn’t the only thing that counts. Make sure your home feels as large as possible by visually increasing the space in every room.
Sunny rooms feel larger and more open, so replace heavy drapes with blinds or shutters that let light in. Also, adding a large mirror in each room can visually double the space in a room. Finally, clear the clutter. For less than $400, add an attractive shelving unit to an underused space and store your clutter out of sight.
Tip 4: Add new energy-efficient fixtures.
A functional, decorative ceiling fan is a beautiful thing. But an outdated, wobbly, loud or broken fan is a useless eyesore. Replace old fixtures with new to make your home more enjoyable now — and increase the bottom line should you decide to sell.
Tip 5: Small bathroom updates equal a big return.
Bathroom updates are always a smart move. Even if you can’t afford a full remodel, small changes can update the room without bruising your bottom line. For a quick, inexpensive face lift, replace dated wallpaper or light fixtures with updated paint and lighting.
Home Improvements: $400 to $750
Tip 1: Update your bathroom and add lots of value.
The two rooms that gain the most value from small renovation are the kitchen and bathroom. You can do a minor bathroom remodel for less than $750, and even one cost-effective change will guarantee a lot of bang for your buck. Replacing an outdated vanity, old plumping or lighting fixtures or adding a new tile floor will give your bath an updated, modern look — without breaking the bank.
Tip 2: Any kitchen update equals added value.
The same rule applies in the kitchen. You don’t have to start the room’s design from scratch to maximize your home’s value. Start by swapping out just one item, such as a stained sink or ancient microwave for shiny new stainless models. Even small kitchen updates will add big value to your home.
Transitional Living Room With Smart Strand Carpet
Tip 3: Replace any worn carpets or area rugs.
Take a look at your home’s soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Nothing turns buyers off more than the thought that they will immediately need to replace all of the flooring in a home. If a limited budget keeps you from replacing all the flooring, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear. You can replace the others as your finances allow.
Tip 4: Keep up with regular maintenance and repairs.
Walk around your home and make a list of all the small things that need to be repaired. Small repairs may not seem important by themselves, but little things can add up to create the impression that your home has been neglected. Don’t feel comfortable tackling repairs yourself? Hire a handyman for a day and watch your “to-do” list disappear. Staying on top of maintenance today eliminates problems down the road should you decide to sell.
Tip 5: Get help with getting organized.
Hire a lifestyle coach for a day. How does that help your home? The coach will help you organize your life, which includes organizing your home. A clutter-free house is part of a more organized life, and an orderly home is more valuable.
Home Improvements: $750 to $1,000
Tip 1: Go tankless.
Trade your standard water heater for a tankless model. Most old-fashioned water heaters keep 50 gallons of water hot at all times — whether you use the water or not. Tankless water heaters heat only the water you need, as you need it. The eco-friendly water heater will save energy and money, and will help set you home apart if you sell.
Tip 2: Upgrade your appliances.
Eighty-six the old school appliances for sleek new energy-efficient ones. An appliance with an energy star label has been certified by the government to use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than conventional appliances. Matching stainless appliances will not only look great now but will make your home shine brighter than the competition if it’s on the market.
Tip 3: Go for the green.
Everyone loves a yard with thick, green grass. With less than $1,000 and a weekend’s time, you can replace your existing patchy mix of weeds and grass with fresh new sod. You’ll be amazed at the difference this one change will make in your home’s curb appeal and value.
Home Improvements: $1,000 to $1,500
Tip 1: Spruce up your ceilings.
The ceiling makes up one-sixth of a room’s total area, yet is often the room’s most neglected space. Updating your home’s ceiling will add architectural interest, and net a lot of bang for your buck. If you still have popcorn ceilings, hire a contractor to scrape them smooth or do it yourself. To add a sophisticated custom look to a smooth ceiling, install crown moldings or box beams for a coffered look. Small touches like this will help your home stand out from the pack.
Tip 2: Update your home’s entrance.
Your front door and entrance are among the first thing people see when they enter your home, so they should complement your home’s overall design. If your existing door isn’t up to par, pick up a more energy-efficient and attractive replacement. Whether you choose a solid wood door or a decorative entry with stained glass panels, a welcoming front door is sure to increase your home’s bottom line.
Tip 3: Consult a design pro.
If you’re unsure of which design style or paint color to use, hire a designer. They’ll bring discriminating taste and a trained eye to help with making the big decisions. Even if you don’t have the funds to do a full remodel now, they’ll help you put together a cohesive plan to ensure a pulled-together finished look. When you get the right mix of time and money, you’ll know exactly which project to tackle next.
Home Improvements: $1,500 to $2,000
Tip 1: Save on air conditioning costs.
Tired of expensive energy bills? A whole house fan is a great alternative to air conditioning and uses one-tenth the electricity of AC. “Green” home improvements like the energy-saving fan are popular with today’s home buyers. As the cost of electricity continues to rise, green energy alternatives will only gain popularity.
Tip 2: Brighten up.
A bright way to increase the value of your home is to add lighting. A well-lit room feels more cheerful, and makes spaces feel larger and cleaner. Bright rooms also show you have nothing to hide, so prospective buyers will feel at ease when touring your home.
Hire an electrician to add recessed lights to a dim kitchen or family room or elegant sconces to a formal dining or living room. You’ll enjoy the lighting now, and your home will feel more welcoming to home buyers later.
Tip 3: Add the right landscaping and watch your home’s value grow.
Landscaping makes a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home. For less than $2,000, hire a landscape designer to create a plan that will make your home’s exterior really shine. For maximum impact, plant mature trees or fast growing varieties. Though these can be pricy, they will instantly make your home feel more established.
Home Improvements: $2,000 to $3,000
Tip 1: Kitchen or bath remodels are always a safe bet.
Improving your home is a solid investment at any level — but if you have two to three thousand dollars, a great place to start is by upgrading either the kitchen or bath. You don’t have to do a complete floor-to-ceiling remodel in either room to reap financial benefits. In fact, modest kitchen or bath updates can be your best bet for a big return, netting an 80 to 85 percent return on average.
Tip 2: Protect your investment.
A home is the largest investment most people make, so treat it that way! Hire a financial planner to analyze all of the financing options that are available. A financial whiz can tell you if you should refinance to lower your monthly payments or pull out some equity to pay for value-adding improvements.
Tip 3: Bring the outdoors in.
Consider turning two standard windows into an opening for beautiful French or sliding glass doors. Full-view glass doors really brighten up the space and a light and airy room is always more attractive. Also, with a view of the outdoors, the room will feel much larger. Another bonus: modern doors are energy-efficient, cutting down on heating and cooling costs. That means more cash in your pocket now and a financial bonus should you decide to sell.
Home Improvements: $3,000 to $5,000
Tip 1: Add closet or garage storage.
Realtors agree that ample storage space tops most home buyers’ list of wants. For less than $5,000, consider upgrading your home’s storage by adding custom shelving to a closet or garage. Then, get organized. Start by sorting your belongings, then stash them away in your new closet. You’ll end up with a clutter-free space that maximizes your home’s value.
Tip 2: Green flooring choices equal more green in your wallet.
Worn, tired carpet will not only turn off homebuyers, but it can make you feel worn and tired too. Replace it with the hottest trend in flooring: renewable, environmentally-friendly bamboo. Solid surface floors are easy to keep clean and give your home an upscale look and feel. “Green” flooring choices, like bamboo, minimally impact the environment and are a big selling point to today’s environmentally-conscious home buyers.
Tip 3: Resurface concrete.
Replacing the cracked concrete surfaces around your home can cost a small fortune. But for a fraction of that cost, concrete can be resurfaced in a multitude of colors and finishes. Consider adding a cobblestone finish to your driveway, a brick look to an old walkway or a slate finish around the pool or patio. Whichever texture you choose, it will be a huge improvement over standard concrete — and potential home buyers will take note.
Home Improvements: $5,000 and Up
Tip 1: Refresh the exterior paint.
The condition of your home’s exterior is critical to the overall curb appeal. If you put your house on the market and the exterior paint looks bad, a buyer may assume the interior has been neglected as well.
Refreshing your facade with a coat of paint will preserve and protect your home’s exterior siding, and the right paint color can transform a home from dull to dazzling. But remember to choose your color wisely — a house painted with an overly bright or bland color will make a house less appealing and hurt the value.
Tip 2: Go solar to save some green.
Save energy bill greenbacks by going “green” with a solar water heater. The installed price is anywhere between two to five thousand dollars, but these systems can slash your hot water bills by as much as 80 percent. You’ll also attract energy-conscious home buyers should you decide to sell. Install a solar water heater where there’s unobstructed southern exposure and you’ll have savings made in the shade.
Tip 3: Kitchen remodels are king.
Most experts agree that if you plan on updating only one room in your house, it should be the kitchen. Large, open kitchens have become the social hub of the modern home. High-end touches like granite countertops, custom cabinets and energy-efficient stainless steel appliances are the gold standard in modern kitchens. Experts agree that kitchen remodels return an average of 80 to 85 percent of every dollar spent. You can expect an even higher return if you are remodeling an extremely outdated kitchen.