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Which Home Improvements Add the Most Value?

4-Minute Read

For most of us, our house is one of the biggest investments we make, both financially and emotionally. When it comes to home improvements, our line of thinking often falls into two categories: Some focus on the emotional and personalized side, like “we need an in-ground pool and hot tub!” Others are a bit less fun and lean more toward financial responsibility, like “we should probably do something about that 1950s wallpaper we love so much before we sell.”

No matter when you think you might make your next move, considering the resale impact of your home improvements makes sense. Even if you’re absolutely sure you’ve found your forever home, remember that one day your kids will have to decide to stay or sell. With this in mind, here’s a look at what types of home improvements add the most value.

Home Improvements That Add Value

Beyond emotional vs. financial, the other categories we often create when thinking of home improvements are big vs. small. The range is wide, so don’t get deterred if you aren’t really feeling a complete home renovation. The bigger-ticket items are more likely to result in a higher uptick to the final price when you sell, but some of the smaller fixes might have a better return on investment (ROI) as you calculate the cost to do the work proportional to the added value.

Speaking of cost, if you’re worried about having enough cash to make improvements, then using a personal loan on home makeovers may be a good move. And once you have explored your loan options and secured the funds, here are some of the common upgrades – both big and small – you may want to consider.

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Top 3 Home Improvements to Consider

The Kitchen

Updating your kitchen usually gets you the most value in terms of increasing the asking price for your house, as it’s the single most important room prospective buyers consider. And why shouldn't it be? We tend to spend more time in our kitchens than anywhere else in the house – when we’re awake anyway – so making sure your kitchen feels both aesthetically pleasing and functional is critical.

A kitchen renovation can vary greatly in price and scope, so think about what you can afford, and which aspects of the room need the most work. Counters, cabinets, appliances, sinks and floors offer endless possibilities in terms of materials, styles, layout and cost. Keep it simple when it comes to colors and other choices. A white quartz countertop will stand the test of time through changing fads. Lime green Formica? Not so much.

The Bathroom(s)

It may feel like a small space to renovate, but bathrooms offer a lot of bang for their buck when increasing the value of your home. Dated and worn bathrooms can be a huge turnoff for prospective buyers, but pristine new ones can often seal a deal. Like kitchens, bathroom renovations can be big or small, expensive or affordable. No need to replace the whole room if the tub is in great shape and the counters just need remodeling. Evaluate, prioritize and then tackle the essentials so as not to bust your budget.

The Garage

Updating a neglected garage – or building a new one entirely – can certainly be a large project. It may be worth it, as the presence of a garage can often be a must-have that buyers put on their checklist as they look for homes. Depending on the state you live in, the emphasis buyers put on a full garage – as opposed to a carport or just a driveway – may vary. For example, cold Michigan winters force people to put more of a premium on keeping their cars warm and covered vs. warmer California climates.

Smaller Improvements to Increase Home Value

When it comes to selling your house, the details are what tends to matter most. As sensible as we all think we are, small aesthetic turn-offs can leave a bad taste with prospective buyers. Doing some little fixes or upgrades can go a long way toward helping people really envision themselves living in your home when they’re there for a showing or open house. Keep in mind that many of these fixes aren’t dependent on the season, so also consider small winter projects that will get you ready to list your home during the hot spring real estate market.

Painting

You thought that neon pink color choice gave personality and made your family room sparkle in the ’80s, and no doubt it did! Sorry, but it’s time to pick a more neutral choice – gray, beige, off-white, etc. – and spend a day painting over those fond memories in the interest of getting top dollar for your house. You may think people can look past paint color when deciding to buy, but the reality is that it’s much easier to get distracted by it and let it sour your overall impression of the house instead of dismissing it. Not to mention, it’s easier for prospective buyers to imagine their own stuff fitting in a neutral space.

Kitchen/Bathroom Adjustments

Not ready for a complete rehaul in these rooms? No worries. Smaller projects like fixing cracked tiles, recaulking the bathtub, replacing the toilet seat or installing a new showerhead or faucet can go a long way in sprucing up a dated or dilapidated kitchen or bathroom. Also, if you have some money to invest but don't want the headache of renovating, replacing kitchen appliances with modern, stainless steel options is a great way to up the resale value of your home.

Inspection Reports

Remember that report your inspector handed you when you bought the house that had a list of items to take care of once you moved in? You know, the one that has been sitting in a basement drawer collecting dust since closing day? Now is the time to find it and start highlighting some of the items that are manageable given your timeline to sell and level of home improvement expertise. Remember, whoever buys the house will have a new inspection done, so any issues you can head off at the pass will put you in a stronger position as you negotiate your way to finalizing a deal.

As you can see, there are many factors that go into making an informed decision about undertaking home improvements to add value to your home. Hopefully now you have the feeling that the size and scope are wide ranging, meaning your options on how to proceed are plentiful. With a little homework and some elbow grease, you can find ways to improve your home and add to its resale value regardless of your budget, timeline or fix-it ability.

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