No matter when you choose to list and sell your home, it’s never too early to begin adding value for a future sale. While you may be perfectly content in your current space, others may not find it as appealing. And you know what? It rarely needs to cost a ton of money! Things that add value to a home can be as simple as adding a few flowers up front!
Getting the itch spruce up a little? Why not have little fun with the process?
Let’s take a tour together through your home and see how it measures up! Get a pen and paper ready, or pull up a note taking app on your phone and get ready to examine your home like you are seeing it for the first time!
We are going to start at the very beginning, so buckle up or put on some walking shoes. It’s time to take a little spin around your own neighborhood and discover the things that will add value to your home today!
First, let’s start with the things that will externally increase your property’s wow factor.
1) Landscape Like a Pro
As you explore, take note of what appeals to you (or turns you away) about the yards at each of the properties you see.
- Is there trash out front or a yard full of junk?
- Is the grass overgrown with out-of-control-weeds?
- Does the siding look dirty?
- Are shrubs obscuring the windows or walkway?
You can get an instant vibe about a place based on just the first few seconds. What about the houses you love? What draws you in?
Take particular note of the things that seem to add visual appeal to a property. Some things may seem obvious, but others, like just the look of the front door can be deceptively simple upgrades that instantly upgrade the curb appeal of a home.
As you get back to your own house, be ruthlessly honest about what’s working and what’s not.
Make a list of what you can do in your own yard.
- removing debris (sticks, leaves, trash).
- pruning any trees or plant life.
- adding fresh mulch to flower beds.
- eliminating any clutter in the yard.
Once everything is looking fresh, add some additional touches to improve the look and feel of the exterior property.
- Repaint or replace you mailbox.
- Install larger house numbers.
- Plant shrubs and flowers.
- Hang string lights in your trees or add garden lights to your walkway.
Related: 6 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast
2) Upgrade Your Front Door
You want to hear something crazy? According to research conducted by Therma Tru doors, a front door can increase the value of a home by as much as $18k! Excuse me, what? Now I know doors aren’t cheap and new installations can run you around $1k-$3k+, but I’d say that’s a pretty solid return on your investment.
- If you’re on a budget, a steel or fiberglass door will do the trick, but if you want the best return on value, a solid wood door is the way to go.
- Another fun fact to consider – black or charcoal-colored front doors have a tendency to increase the home’s value around $6k, according to Real Trends.
That’s great news if you aren’t in a position to replace your front door!
- Paint your front door a color you love that will make it pop.
- Add new door numbers to add an upgraded touch.
- Swap out your old doorknob for something classier.
3) Wash or Paint Your Home’s Exterior
Your home’s exterior can get just as dirty as anything else being constantly exposed to the elements.
Over time, this can make your home look a but dingy. In most cases, you should be able to simply give it a good, ole pressure wash. It will likely be a full day’s work, but the increase in curb appeal will be worth your efforts.
If your home is older or has wood siding, you may need to go to the added effort of painting it. Or, at the very least, freshening up the paint on the shutters, any visible trim and basement doors.
This adds value for the buyer as it’s one less project on their plate.
4) Repair or Add a Fence
Fences add value to a home, period. But there is a value limit.
The cost of adding a simple wood fence to even a quarter of an acre can run you a few thousand dollars unless you choose to do it yourself. You will have to weigh the cost of the time/aggravation vs. the potential value add.
Here’s where you may come out ahead
If you have an existing fence still standing, slightly leaning or breaking in some spots (while not creating a potential safety hazard, of course) you will still get some appraisal credit.
When the appraisal was done for my current property, a rough and dilapidated looking metal fence with a broken gate graced the front yard. I was certain this would decrease the value of the property.
The sellers received a $4k value credit simply because a fence existed. So there you go. You’re welcome for that little tidbit.
May not be worth doing much beyond basic repairs to your fence, but it will more than likely add value to your home if you install one.
If you don’t already have shutters or window boxes, this is a pretty simple upgrade that will make your home look extra cozy and inviting upon first glance!
It’s a valuable upgrade because it increases the visual appeal while remaining fairly low maintenance for the new owners.
Make sure to add hearty and easy-to-care for plants like creeping jenny or impatiens to the boxes to make it simple for the buyer.
6) Create an Outdoor Patio or Deck Space
One of the best parts of owning a home, in my opinion, is:
- having an outdoor space for grilling,
- playing yard games,
- sitting around a fire pit,
- or enjoying a porch swing with friends.
No matter how small of a patch of land you have to work with, a small deck or designated patio space will increase the value of your home.
However, while it could end up barely paying for itself, it can at least justify the expense and let you enjoy the upgraded feature guilt free until you are ready to sell.
So, now that you have created a beautiful outdoor oasis that everyone will secretly wish you’d invite them over to enjoy, let’s step into the inside!
7) Spruce Up That First Impression
The moment you walk through the door of any home, the first few things you’ll notice (even if subconsciously) are how it feels and smells.
If you were a buyer, what would you think? What would be your knee-jerk reaction?
- Do you smell mildew, mold or just stale air?
- Do you immediately see dust clouds swirling about?
- Is there the lingering stench of gym shoes wafting over your olfactory glands?
If your home doesn’t smell like fresh-baked cookies or an after-the-rain-spring morning, you may need to address the issue.
- Get a diffuser and add a few drops of essential oil
- Use a plug-in air fresher (although be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to appear to be masking a perpetual odor.)
A few additional quick and easy tasks to increase visual value:
- Scrub down those windows until they are sparkling
- Sweep away those sneaky cobwebs and dust bunnies
- Clean fingerprints off of light switches, doorknobs and other high-touch surfaces
8) Pay Attention to ALL the Interior Details
It’s truly the little things that can add value to a home for a potential buyer. Once you get comfortable in your own home, you start to ignore all these small annoyances that others are likely to notice immediately.
It’s time to start tackling these little things you’ve been putting off:
- Touch up old and dirty caulking in your bathrooms
- Repaint your walls with soothing tones like deep blues, light grays and other neutral tones
- Change out any old and worn cabinet hardware
- Replace all those burnt out light bulbs you’ve been ignoring
You shouldn’t have to spend a ton of money here. The idea is just to make sure everything is functioning properly and looks well-maintained and clean.
No matter your personal style, there are always ways to add small touches that everyone can appreciate.
Again, you shouldn’t have to break the bank with these updates.
- Repaint or stain existing or thrift store finds to create a few signature pieces
- Add some decorative mirrors to bounce natural light and make the space look brighter
- Change out your curtains or blinds for a more modern look
- Create an accent wall with removable wallpaper
There are so many possibilities and way too many ideas online. Just a few small touches can make all the difference in increasing a home’s value – even if it’s only in the eyes of the buyers’ in this case.
10) Upgrade the Appliances
Who doesn’t love brand new, shiny appliances?! Usually the latest models come with all the bells and whistles, nicer finishes and increased energy efficiency.
Check out the “scratch and dent” section at your local hardware or appliance store to snag a steal! Since you are looking to replace a (hopefully) already functioning appliance, you can take your time looking for just the right deal.
When you find a new machine, list your old reliable on Facebook marketplace and make some money back in the process!
11) Redo Your Kitchen or Bath
An upgraded kitchen and bathroom holds a ton of appeal for potential buyers! You’ve already upgraded those old appliances, so why not make the kitchen match these beautiful new statement pieces!
And since the ROI of a minor kitchen upgrade (with a cost around $21,000) is estimated at 81%, it is a project worth budgeting for. You can probably increase that percentage if you are both frugal and creative!
Unless these rooms need to be completely gutted and restructured, you can hopefully keep projects to a minimum.
- Repaint cabinets and replace hardware
- Add new back-splashes
- Replace light fixtures
- Add new flooring – this will be what ties the whole upgraded look together.
12) Consider That Add-on You’ve Been Wanting to Do
A family room, screened in porch or extra bedroom will be extremely appealing to a buyer and will make your home more comfortable and enjoyable while you’re living in it.
Do try to keep this project budget-friendly though as you are likely to only see a 50-60% increase in value. Still a worthwhile upgrade if you are reaping the benefits of utilizing it before selling.
13) Upgrade Big Ticket Items
There are some items that WILL cost quite a bit more, but will likely payoff as buyers are willing to pay close to top dollar for these key items.
Whether you choose to go the DIY route or hire a pro, these big ticket items will help add value to your home:
- Repair or replace your roof
- Get a larger/more energy efficient or tankless hot water heater
- Repair or replace an old shed
- Make sure the furnace is functioning properly and have it serviced at the very minimum
These upgrades are going to hit the old pocketbook at lot harder, but should pay for themselves when it comes time to sell.
No one enjoys gross, old carpet. Tear that stuff out and replace it with some clean and comfortable plush stuff.
Better yet, just nix it all together and install new flooring!
If you can’t splurge for the real hardwood, check out the click-together vinyl flooring that gets nicer looking with every new product upgrade that hits the market.
If you already have decent wood floors, especially in an older home, consider refinishing them to add natural charm.
While no one can quite nail down how much of an ROI you can expect from this upgrade, it’s been estimated that it can increase the sale price of the home by 2.5%.
15) Increase Energy Efficiency
You can add value to your home through simple energy efficient upgrades like the following:
- Insulate or finish your attic/basement spaces.
- Upgrade your windows (more about that next).
- Add ceiling fans to better circulate cool air in the home.
- Add a programmable thermostat.
- Install a tankless hot water heater (as mentioned in tip #13)
- Switch to energy efficient lighting
16) Replace Your Windows
According to HomeLight’s Top Agent Insights Survey for Q1 2020, replacing your windows will net you an 81% ROI. Not too shabby.
Do your research though and make sure you are getting quality, name brand replacements. Windows are not a place to cheap out!
That should get you started!
Are you tired yet? How are you feeling after your Tour de’ Haus?
There are so many ways to increase your home’s value and you certainly don’t have to tackle it all at once. And, if you know you are a few years out from listing, you can start small and save up for the larger items that will likely need to be addressed in a few years anyway.
Happy value adding!
What do you plan to tackle first on this list? Anything else you would add from personal experience?
AUTHOR Kerah Kemmerer
Hello! I'm Kerah. I'm a writer and personal finance enthusiast with a background in marketing. I'm also a wedding and portrait photographer, part-time RVer and a lover of simple and minimal living. Always up to some project or adventure over @krisandkerah on Instagram.