Home improvement: How to add big value with small investments

In a few months it’s spring again and in spite of the dismal housing market, many home owners will try to sell their house. Now it’s the right time for home improvement projects that will add value to the house. However, not all upgrades have the same rate of return. For some projects, like a major kitchen remodel, you will spend probably more than you can add as value to your house. On the other hand,¬† small renovations projects which you can do yourself¬†could result in the biggest payback. Here are a few tips how to make your house more attractive without spending a fortune:

  • Kitchen: Today, people want kitchens that look open and spacious. Light colors on walls and floor are therefore important. It’s not necessary to have granite countertops, but¬†when you are showing the house to prospective buyers,¬†remove all small appliances, cookie jars and whatever else is standing on the countertops. Empty countertops will make your kitchen look larger. Make sure that the lighting is perfect, replace broken light bulbs (also inside the fridge and/or the oven) and perhaps install new lighting. Clean the kitchen window, the fridge (inside too, just in case), remove all magnets and notes from the fridge, and clean the stove, microwave and oven, so that everything shines and sparkles. There are a few other small things you can do to enhance the look of the room. For example, replacing the drawer pulls and the door knobs can make a huge difference without costing you too much money. Check the faucet, too and consider replacing it with a modern looking faucet.

  • Bathroom: Same as in the kitchen, make sure that the shower, bathtub, toilet and sink are sparkling clean.¬† No leaky faucets or running toilets! If you can’t get rid of stains, re-glaze the bathtub. Consider replacing old fixtures and repaint walls¬†in light colors. If possible, install floor tiles and modernize towel racks. Buy a new shower curtain. And don’t forget: When you are showing the house, move all your personal belongings out of sight.

  • Living, Family and Bedrooms: Fresh paint or new wallpaper will make your entire house look new. Choose neutral colors. Remove old carpets. Wall to wall carpeting is “out”. Instead, install wood floor or – less cost intensive – laminate or cork floor. In the bedrooms, don’t neglect the closets: Put in new shelves and¬†repaint closets walls.

  • Roof: Most prospective buyers will ask you about the roof. Therefore, make sure it’s fixed and there are no leaks.

  • Siding and window replacement and new shutters: These are rather expensive upgrades, but experts say, that homeowners have here the highest chance to recoup the costs. In addition, your house will¬†look like new,¬†which will improve the curb appeal.¬† If you don’t want to replace siding and windows, consider at least new painting and wash the windows and shutters.

  • Landscaping: Speaking of curb appeal, prune bushes and trees, before you put your house on the market. Repair the driveway. A new coating can work wonders. Plant flowers, invest in lawn care¬†and upgrade outdoor lighting.

When our neighbors put their house on the market, they had spent a lot of money for new siding, windows and flooring inside the house. They had repainted the walls and bought a new entrance door. In spite of all these upgrades, on open house day many people only drove by without stopping. Reason: My neighbors had done nothing about the overgrown shrubs and had also left the old lamp on its rusty, crooked¬†pole at the bottom of the driveway untouched. Their house was more than three months on the market and sold for much less than they had expected. Therefore, don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal!

Christiane is a professional Life and Career Coach and psychologist.  Her website is www.coach4u.net