When it’s time to sell, every homeowner wants to get the most out of their home. Buyers like to see renovations, updated decor and new gadgets during viewings, but which improvements are worth the cost and will deliver the greatest return on investment? This guide collects everything you need to know into four simple steps:
- Before getting started on home renovations, know when you plan on listing your property. The answer to that will determine where you should focus your energy.
- If you want to sell quickly and for top dollar, you’ll need to do quick home improvement projects. These include things like light landscaping or installing updated lighting fixtures.
- If you want to focus on building equity and don’t plan to sell for another ten years, then you may have time to do a major overhaul, such as remodelling the bathroom or installing solar panels.
Once you’ve set a timeline for your sale and decided on the scale of projects, it’s time to create your budget. Determine how much you want to spend before starting any DIY or professional renovation jobs. Home decor experts say you can expect to spend anywhere from $15 – $60 per square foot on an average renovation project, while kitchen and bathrooms can cost $100 – $250 per square foot. To get the most bang for your buck, consider updating one or two of the most important rooms, such as the bathroom or kitchen. If you choose to do a major renovation, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to pay for it. Putting such large projects on a credit card isn’t a good idea unless you’re certain you can pay off the balance quickly.
A personal loan may be a better way to help you finance your project. You pay them back in monthly instalments, and they usually have better interest rates and more flexible repayment options than credit cards. You might also consider a cash-out refinance, which takes a portion of equity and replaces your mortgage with a larger one worth more than the value of your home. Your lender then gives you a check for the difference.
If you have a $300,000 mortgage on your home and you’ve paid off half of the principal, then you have at least $150,000 available in equity. Opting for a cash-out refinance to cover $20,000 worth of repairs would net you $20,000 in cash and adjust your outstanding mortgage balance to $170,000. In addition, interest rates are typically lower on a cash-out refinance than on a traditional home equity line of credit or home loan. Even better, if interest rates were higher when you took out your original mortgage, you could secure a much lower rate.
13 Simple Steps to Increase the Value of your Home
Our homes are the biggest assets that we have in terms of monetary investment and personal living. There is a range of simple steps you can take to increase the value of such an asset, whether it’s to upgrade your own living space or to bump up your property appraisal for an upcoming resale. Here is a range of quick and easy solutions that won’t cost a fortune and won’t have you falling into a long-term renovation project. Any of these tips can increase the value of your home, and you can get started straight away!
Plant some trees
If you have the space to do so, planting trees outside your house has been proven to increase property value. Planting a tree outside your home can increase the value as much as a new bathroom, but unlike such a challenging project, it can be done with barely any time or monetary investment. A localised study in Oregon has shown that having trees on a property increases the property value at an average of $8,870 USD, but this is a worldwide trend. The same study shows that trees can minimise the time a house spends on the market by 1.7 days, so the significance in resale is apparent.
A range of environmental benefits also arises from having trees on your property, such as noise reduction, privacy and help with storm drainage. Depending on placement, they can also reduce air conditioning and heating costs by blocking the home from harsh weather conditions like sun and wind. Some ways to maximise the effect of trees are:
However, it is important to remember that although planting trees is quick and painless, they will require a degree of regular maintenance to ensure their successful growth – and the growth of your property value. Another consideration would also be the neighbours – their property value would increase if they live within 30m of the trees. Any trees that grow over property borders are worthy of discussion to avoid going through the local council.
Do a full deep clean
It seems like the ultimate simple step, but doing a thorough clean of your entire house can do wonders for its value. Of course, you may already have a pretty spotless home (in which case, good work, keep it up!). Still, family homes tend to get messy in the blink of an eye, and dirt can get ingrained in all the nooks and crannies that you may not even be aware of; the bathroom and kitchen are often the victims.
A benefit of investing your time to perform the clean yourself has the bonus that as you go through the house, you can also do an audit and make a list of all the other little things that may need repair or refreshment – things that will be much easier to do when the space has been cleaned. However, if you’re short on time, it’s also relatively inexpensive to hire a local professional cleaner, who can go through thoroughly and transform your house in a matter of hours. Then, after the big job is done, you can commit to a regular cleaning and tidying routine to preserve this improvement.
Another seemingly simple one, but minimising the clutter in your home is a sure way to maximise your visual space and visual appeal. Clutter can easily get out of hand, especially in a home with pets or children, but taking the time to tidy and declutter your house makes it appear larger, cleaner, and more open, making it more attractive to potential buyers thus increases its value. From this resale perspective, the potential buyers can imagine their belongings, families and themselves inside it. Decluttering will cost you nothing, keep the house easier to clean (a bonus for both living and selling purposes), and visually increase the house’s space.
Use clever storage solutions.
It’s easy enough to get through the clean and declutter; the hard part is keeping it that way! In any property, from a compact city apartment to a big suburban house, finding a place for everything and maintaining cleanliness and visual appeal can be a difficult task.
Containers and storage systems play a huge part in keeping these things organised. These days, many furniture fittings are designed to maximise all the space available, such as large drawers or crates that fit underneath the bed, manipulating hollow space to your advantage. Storage units that use all available wall space, particularly just below the ceiling, are often neglected. Using large mirrors increases light and creates the optical illusion of more space to avoid the room feeling too cramped with the storage systems.
Electricity cords and cables are other items that are often difficult to maintain and keep organised as they favour chaos and tangle, but simple little additions such as velcro, tape, or cable ties can help keep these in order, as well as small hooks on the undersides of tables to keep all the wires out of sight.
A whole range of nifty tricks and hacks for home organisation can be found here, making living easier and increasing the value of your home through the added creation of space.
Give it a fresh coat of paint.
To revamp a room, nothing is more effective than a good paint job. Whether you choose to save some money and do a DIY project or whether you hire a professional, it is a low-cost time-effective way to completely refresh the interior of a room or the whole house. Even hiring a professional can only cost a few hundred dollars per room, and if you narrow down the one or two rooms that need the most work, it bumps up the value of the entire house. Look for rooms with bright walls or bad previous paint jobs, which make the most effective targets. Rooms like the kitchen and bathroom can always benefit from a new coat of paint as well, and if you’re lucky, the other rooms may only require a quick touch-up.
Choosing colours is something to be wary of, and colour swatches can often look very different when painted over an entire room. However, to maximise future resale potential, stick to a neutral colour palette of whites, greys and beiges and try not to tip too dark on the scale, as the lighter colours reflect more light and help create space – that magic word that buyers are looking for!
If you want to get a little creative, you could add a carefully planned feature wall in a different colour or texture, but otherwise, you can add splashes of colour and personality to the room with non-permanent fixtures such as furniture, throws, mirrors and artwork. This is relatively inexpensive and allows you to make the space your while also maintaining a basis for future buyers.
If you decide to undergo the paint job yourself, make sure that the new paint does a good job covering up any old paint. You can also try painting the ceiling a shade lighter than the falls for a brighter feel. While you’re at it, you can also refresh any old furniture with a new coat of paint as well to complete the look.
Work on your curb appeal
The classic phrase ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ couldn’t be more spot-on when it comes to your house. Whether for an appraiser, prospective buyer or even just a friend visiting, that first impression is key, and it comes from the exterior of your house. So the first step is to go across the street and look back at your house to assess its curb appeal. Not only as a standalone but also in comparison to other houses on the street and the neighbourhood; how does it measure up? Next, make a list of any improvements you could make or issues you need to fix. Some common ones are missing roof tiles, broken downspouts and cleaning out roof gutters.
After any little repairs, freshen up the house’s exterior by washing any exterior windows and, if necessary, applying a fresh coat of paint. This immediately makes the house look well-maintained from the outside. When it comes to exterior painting, if you’re going to do a DIY job, make sure you choose quality paint and read the instructions before you begin – exterior painting needs to consider a lot more than interior painting and the way that the paint interacts with the elements, and requires specific preparation of the surface and certain air temperatures. Also, paint from top to bottom on a completely dry surface and on the shaded side of the house to avoid the paint drying too quickly, resulting in an undesired flaky texture. For a range of other top tips on exterior painting, see here.
For maximum curb appeal, pay special attention to the front door. It is the entrance to your home and reflects a certain standard, so a feature gloss or colour to contrast with the rest of the house and some updated fixtures can go a long way. The same can be said for the garage door, especially if it is front-facing. Some other final touches to consider could be a new house number or mailbox plaque to finish off the job.
Tidy up your yard
This one goes hand-in-hand with curb appeal because a well-maintained front garden is vital for a good first impression, but backyards are well worth caring for as well. Regular mowing and clean-cut edging can keep the lawn at bay, and a sprinkler system can save you time and effort in keeping everything green and well-looked after. When raking up any fallen leaves, make sure the ground is dry because otherwise, you can risk accidentally ripping grass out from the roots.
When it comes to planting a garden bed, try to keep it natural by planting native plants that don’t require much more maintenance than the natural temperature and rainfall of your area already provide. Add a layer of mulch to flowerbeds to help smother any weeds that may be growing, trim overgrown shrubs or hedges, and make sure that any pathways or stepping stones are swept and clean without any moss or weeds growing around.
As for any outdoor furniture, some bright chairs or cushions can liven up the yard and make it appear more inviting as a social space. Of course, any old furniture might be able to use a new coat of paint or varnish. Exterior lighting keeps the area usable, and lining any pathways with solar lights also maintains safety at nighttime.
Improve your lighting
Lighting should vary from room to room, as there are different needs and expectations. For most rooms in the house, from dining and lounge rooms to bedrooms, adding a dimmer for control over the lighting is a great way for adjustable ambience and visibility and is also energy efficient. Lighting in the bathroom, however, should be kept warm and bright with plenty of visibility. Instead of overhead lighting, which can be quite harsh, try lighting around the vanity mirror on the wall to prevent any heavy shadowing. It’s also particularly important in the kitchen for both visual and safety purposes. Instead of overhead lighting, consider a tracking option that will allow you to designate light to different areas of the kitchen as is necessary. LED under-cabinet and under-table lights are also great for brightening up from different directions and eliminating dark corners.
Natural light is also an important factor not to be underestimated. Maximise the natural light flow through your house with clear windows, drawn-back curtains/blinds, and mirrors in rooms to reflect the natural light and give the appearance of more windows.
Get new floors
An upgrade in flooring can change a house from outdated to modern, and although one of the more costly solutions on this list, it’s also one of the most rewarding. Consider hardwood or tiled flooring rather than carpet; studies suggest that hardwood and/or tile floors can return up to 5-6 times the initial investment. This is a change in trends and reflects modernity within the house, whereas the popularity of carpet flooring has been decreasing over the last few decades. However, carpet is still a popular option for bedrooms due to comfort, warmth, and its ability to reduce noise – although if you prefer hardwood floors instead, rugs in the bedrooms can provide similar benefits.
Ensure energy efficiency
This one can be tricky because often, the more energy-efficient options are more costly than their alternatives. If this is a concern, try to look at it in the long-term, as choosing bulbs and appliances with a higher energy star rating are known to save on energy bills in the long run after installation.
In the bathroom, check you showered for hard-water deposits and save money on your water bill by replacing fixtures such as taps, toilets and showerheads in favour of low-flow options. Make sure all windows and doors have proper seals to maintain heating and cooling energy within the house. Change air conditioning filters regularly, and you can even install ceiling fans as an in-between option instead of using an air-con every time. You could also replace outdated insulation with newer options such as spray insulation for sealing cracks and holes. You could also book a home energy assessment for a professional to come and audit your property for the energy-conscious. They can give recommendations for your specific household on what energy improvements can be made or upgraded.
An energy-efficient household is a big selling point and increases the value of your home and saves you money, and protects the environment. So make sure that any adjustments you may need to make will also improve your energy efficiency to improve bit by bit. To promote energy efficiency, sometimes grants can be available for energy-reduction improvements, and there is also a range of special mortgage options available for environmentally-conscious homeowners.
Provide a technologically sound house
We never know where technology will take us in the future, so it’s important to keep your house updated with technological trends. Energy efficiency is a start, but the next is to consider automated controls for elements such as lighting, heating, air conditioning and any alarm systems. As far as inner wiring is concerned, include an extra electrical conduit in anticipation of the future internet, data or telecommunications requirements. This will make any future installations easier and less expensive. Try to look ahead and anticipate the needs of future occupants, and do your best to avoid any technological obsolescence.
As much as we love them, pets can bring a certain smell to our homes that can decrease the house’s overall value. It’s a noticeable element that visitors and prospective buyers will remember about the house, so it’s important to eliminate these smells wherever possible. Shy of sending the pets away (which is a common practice when trying to sell), there are other things you can do to keep the smells to a minimum.
Please keep your pets and any of their toys, beds and accessories as clean as possible, and buy easy-to-clean options in the first place (especially with bedding). Avoid letting them sit on furniture wherever possible, and when required, you can use a simple sponge with duct tape to remove any hair that has been shed. Baking soda is great for combatting odours, so sprinkle over the carpet before vacuuming and add to any litter trays, which should be kept to one per animal.
Know your limits
Last but certainly not least, it’s important to know where your skills and capabilities end. Taking on home improvements DIY style is tempting, especially when it saves money, but there comes the point where you’re better off to call in the professionals. Choose your DIY projects carefully, analyse the skills and tools you possess and their adequacy for the particular task, and weigh up the time and effort required to make it worthwhile. You may be able to hire contractors to do the heavy-duty tasks and then take on the small fixtures and paint jobs yourself.
As a general rule, steer clear of plumbing or electrical work unless you have specific skills or knowledge in these fields. An amateur is more likely to cause further damage to these internal systems that will require a significantly greater cost to repair, not to mention bring down the house’s value. It might be worth calling in a plumber and electrician to assess the internals and fix small issues such as loose wires or water leaks. For projects that you decide to DIY, ensure you have access to the right tools and products to get the job done properly.
The Importance of Adding Value to Your Home.
When it comes to your home, you want it to feel like your home, but have you thought about the future? You may know already that your home at the moment is just a transition home, or it might be your home for the rest of your life.
Either way, it is always good to know how to add value and follow through on adding value to your property, financially and cosmetically. It is always going to be more beneficial to have more space. Whether that is to build into the loft space, extend out the back of the property and create a side return or update your bathroom, it makes sense to do it not only for yourself but for future buyers to get the best price out of your property. Nu projects can help you. Offering a service not readily available in London, nu projects are a design and build company. We can offer everything from architectural drawings to project management and contractors to interior design. This makes it easier for you as the client not to liaise between different parties with everything under one roof.
It is important to future proof your home, and with certain moves, the value of your property will rise because it is more appealing to the buyer. For example, a newly tiled bathroom with new fittings will be a lot more appealing to multiple purchasers than a 1980s mustard yellow bath with cream fittings. If it is not your forever home or a home that you plan to spend decades in, then cosmetically styling it to suit the wider clientele is worth it so that when it comes to selling your property, it appeals to more people.
If unable to afford a full house renovation, you are updating the bathroom, repainting the property, or changing the cabinet worktop to be more in tune with the time is very beneficial. Increase the value of your home, and you will feel the benefits when it comes to selling your home and enjoy the space more when you live there.