If you’re think of selling your home or if you’re just wanting to make some improvements to your house, updating features and adding certain elements can contribute greatly to the value and appeal of your home. The hard part is knowing what updates are a waste and what home improvements are worth the investment. To offer some guidance, here is a list of 11 home improvement projects and additions that are worth the money in the long run:
Paint. The quickest way to make a room look new again is to add a fresh coat of paint. “Paint has one of the highest returns on investment, but the color choice and the contrast and the variety that you use can have a big impact,” McGillivray says. He notes gray is currently a popular color to use, and it comes in a wide variety of shades to offer a different atmosphere as needed. To make it worthwhile, keep any newly painted rooms neutral. Homebuyers often see the amount of work that would go into painting over a bright red wall, and may even ask the seller to paint over it themselves.
Backsplash.Adding a backsplash to your kitchen can take make a world of a difference, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot. “You can update a kitchen very easily by painting it and adding a backsplash. You don’t actually have to do a full remodel,” Giampietro says. The type of backsplash has potential to be significant, too, as the Zillow Digs analysis found home listings mentioning subway tile – the simple, rectangular tile typically measuring 3 inches by 6 inches – sold for 6.9 percent more than the expected sale price. A backsplash isn’t particularly difficult to install yourself and doesn’t take long to do, but like other DIY opportunities around the house, it’s not a project to complete sloppily if you want it to add value and appeal to your home.
Granite. Granite countertops are a favorite for many homebuyers. The Zillow Digs report notes listings mentioning granite sold for 4.1 percent more than expected. But adding granite won’t necessarily have the same return on investment in every home. “In Pittsburgh, houses go from $40,000 to a million. You wouldn’t necessarily want to do a granite countertop in a $40,000 house,” Giampietro says.
Cabinets. Attractive cabinets are key to an enticing kitchen, but that doesn’t necessarily require brand new cabinets. The Zillow Digs study found listings mentioning Shaker cabinets specifically sold for 9.6 percent more than expected. If you’ve got the classic five-piece, framed look that embodies Shaker cabinets and they’re in pretty good shape, refinishing or painting is a great alternative.
Bathroom vanity. The bathroom is another key room for buyers, so giving it a facelift prior to sale is important. Like the kitchen, you don’t necessarily have to do a massive overhaul. Giampietro says changing out the vanity, or updating its appearance, is a simple way to freshen up the space. “You definitely want to do a vanity update because it’s cheap and easy,” she adds.
Smart doorbell. When it comes to adding smart home features, a doorbell equipped with a camera that allows you to see and speak with people at the door is a relatively inexpensive and interesting option, says Sabine H. Schoenberg, a Connecticut-based real estate agent. Most brands, such as Ring and Zmodo, cost less than $200, and it will serve as a security barrier for you and a conversation piece for buyers. Plus, when it comes time to sell, Schoenberg says, “Eight times out of 10 the sellers will end up replacing the doorbell anyway because it doesn’t work anymore.”
Functioning fireplace. If you have one, don’t get rid of it. Of the real estate agents surveyed by Angie’s List, 54 percent said a gas-burning fireplace increases the home’s value most, though a survey of 2,000 homeowners and homebuyers showed 58 percent prefer to have a wood-burning fireplace at home. But what seems clear is having a fireplace of some kind is a positive for your home value.
Energy-saving thermostat. A smart thermostat, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, that can learn your habits and turn heat or air on only while you’re home serves as a great potential saver on your energy bills. “What it gives you is cooling and heating when you’re there, and not when you don’t want it,” Schoenberg says. While it might not increase a home’s value significantly, the amount you could save on utility bills is worth the $250.
Barn doors. The trendy sliding door is a great way to add an updated look to the room, and it’s a relatively simple update with little cost or fuss. Especially if your bedroom closet doors have seen better days, consider a barn door to replace it. But chances are adding a barn door in place of updating a kitchen appliance or the bathroom vanity in desperate need of attention isn’t going to help your resale value.
Solar vents in the attic. This update probably won’t go widely noticedwhen it comes time to sell, but solar vents in the attic are worth it if you’ll be in the home a while. The vents help to expel hot air in the attic in the summer, Schoenberg explains, which has a tendency to keep your air conditioning working harder to keep the home cool. The solar vents help for some airflow without having to use electricity, and thus are “effective to bring down your utility bill,” she says. HomeAdvisor reports most homeowners spend between $342 and $752 for an attic fan installation, including the cost of the fan itself. Installing solar vents will likely cost about the same amount. The vents themselves vary widely in price from $100 to more than $550, so it’s best to check out reviews and determine which brand and make would be most effective for your home.
Landscaping. Often undervalued by homeowners when they put their home on the market is the house’s curb appeal. As the first thing any house hunter will see when they come to tour the home, it’s important to seed any dead patches of grass, mow the lawn regularly and add a bit of color with flowers or bushes without overwhelming the yard. “Good landscaping sells houses. Bad landscaping really makes a negative impact,” Schoenberg says.
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