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What Home Improvements will Add the Most Value and Equity to Your Home?

Updated on October 31, 2015

Best Home Improvements that Add Value

Add value and livability to a home for a fraction of the normal costs. These are all easy, inexpensive projects that will bring beauty, functionality and profitability to the bottom line.

Historically, home prices have been on the rise at about 4% per year, more or less, depending on location. Selling a home for a good price is relatively easy during a sellers market. where there are fewer homes for sale, leaving buyers to pay a higher price.

When it is a buyer's market, there are more homes for sale than there are potential buyers. This forces sellers to lower prices in the hopes of gettin a sale. It is in the buyer's market that home improvements and upgrades come into play the most. In this market, buyers tend to be more selective and look for homes that have already been upgraded. By doing most of the work themselves, home owners receive instant equity for the savings over having a contractor complete the work.

Save Money by Doing the Work Yourself

The largest savings in DIY projects comes from what is known as “sweat equity.” Sweat equity is a term used to describe the contribution made to a project by people who contribute their time and effort. This contribution can be measured in dollars if you look at labor costs for your area.

A wonderful tool you can use to estimate costs for your project in your area is the Consumer Estimator. Simply input your project information and zip code and it will give you a basic estimate including cost of materials and labor. You can then calculate your sweat equity by subtracting the cost of your materials from this estimate. Another way to add to your bottom line is by shopping around for your materials, and renting larger tools to save the cost of purchase.

Upgrades That Sell a Home

It is a well known fact that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. Ironicly, these two rooms are the most costly to update. Look at these two areas as if you were looking to buy your home.

First look at the mechanical workings of the room. Are there leaking faucets, broken fixtures, loose hinges, or appliances that do not work? When remodlling a room, look at upgrading the broken and worn out items first.

Then look at the aesthetics of the room. Are all your fixtures and colors dated? Paint cracked or pealing? Counter tops stained or cut up? Old vinyl flooring torn or just ugly? These are the types of things you focus on, because these are the types of things the buyer will focus on as well.

Most buyers will walk away from a house that needs work in the kitchen and bathrooms. Take the time and money to really make these rooms shine.

Ideas for Cheap Kitchen Updates

  • Updated backsplash- Tear out those old 70’s era tiles and try something a little more modern such as glass tiles or tumbled travertine tiles.
  • Updated counter tops- Everyone would all love granite counter tops, but the cost can really break the bank. There are many other options that are just as updated but more cost friendly. In my kitchen remodel, I used ceramic floor tiles. They are beautiful, cost a lot less, and have a very high durability because they are high traffic floor tiles.
  • Update kitchen cabinets- Re-facing is much cheaper than completely changing the cabinets and you have a brand new look. For a cheaper solution paint your cabinets and change out the old hardware. You can never go wrong with a nice white cabinet paint, but don’t overlook other colors as well.
  • Give the walls a fresh coat of paint- In addition to paint, try adding a chair rail for architectural interest. Perhaps paint below the chair rail a complimentary color to above the rail.

Ideas for Cheap Bathroom Improvements

  • Repaint or wallpaper-your bathroom receives an instant face-lift just by painting. Just as in the kitchen, don’t overlook different wall treatments such as a chair rail or wallpaper borders.
  • New Faucets- This is especially important if your bathroom has contractor grade faucets. New, higher quality faucets will be remembered by buyers. In my bathroom remodel I used an oil-rubbed bronze faucet that I purchased online very inexpensively.
  • New Light Fixtures- Again, just like the faucets, contractor grade lighting just doesn’t stand a chance against upgraded light fixtures.
  • Bathroom Vanity and Mirror- You don’t have to replace the vanity, just paint it and change the hardware out for an instant upgrade. A nice framed mirror that compliments your vanity really dresses up any bathroom.
  • Towels and Rugs- New towels and rugs just finish off a bathroom and give a nice decorator touch.

Ideas for Inexpensive Closet Optimization

Another area that buyers pay particular attention to is closet space. Always maximize any storage space you have. A wonderful way to do this is by installing modular closet units. I was able to install a whole closet system in one weekend.

Aside from adding value to your home, any improvements you make now will make your space more livable for your family as well. Just remember to not “over improve” for your neighborhood. It is very difficult if not impossible to sell your home when it is the highest priced property in the neighborhood.


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