Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost House Value 0 Comments

Brokers Tell All: 10 Ways to Boost House Value

The following excerpt from an article in This Old House.com focuses on the best ways to improve your home’s value, whether you are selling now or in the future. Some of the ideas cost very little and can be done by the homeowner. Also, if they’re done over time and not just before selling, you get to enjoy the upgrades yourself.

 

1. Create Space

this old house, before after kitchen

Knock out a non-structural wall, or even remove that kitchen island. Anything that opens the space and creates a sense of flow in the house is generating a response from buyers who can afford to be choosy. For the price of a few hundred dollars, you’ll transform the feel of the house. Seattle broker Reba Haas says a kitchen island can be an asset, creating needed storage space. But if the kitchen has enough cabinets, it could pay to haul the island away.

 

 

2. Prune, Limb and Landscape

Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views, darken interiors, promote mold, and block a good look at the house. Landscaping is one of the top three investments that bring the biggest return. According to a 2007 survey of 2,000 brokers conducted by HomeGain, an online real estate marketing site, an investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping, can bring a return of four times that.

 

3. Let in the Light

The number one item on the 2007 HomeGain survey, lighting—everything from a dimmer switch to the increasingly popular sun tubes—noticeably enhances a home’s appeal. A few other ways to light things up: Fix broken panes, make sure windows open, and consider lights that use motion detectors to turn themselves off. Remember high wattage bulbs make small spaces feel larger, and soft lighting brings warmth to empty spaces.

 

4. Don’t Put Off Care and Maintenance

Before thinking about a fancy upgrade to the kitchen, address the basics. Insulate the attic, repair plumbing leaks, replace rusty rain gutters, inspect the furnace and the septic system, replace or repair leaky windows, install storm doors, weed the flower beds.

These kinds of fixes go a long way toward value. Jessica Gopalakrishnan with HomeGain says, “Starting with a couple hundred dollars on a few things could increase the value of your house by a few thousand dollars. People are surprised by that. It’s exciting. People think they have to put in a lot of money to see a big difference and they really don’t.”

 

5. Go Green

If maintenance and repairs are in hand, Virginia broker Roger Voisinet says put the greenbacks into green efficiency. If your heating or air conditioning systems are old, “new ones are so much better, with savings of up to 30 to 40%.”

Research published by The Appraisal Journal estimates that energy savings add twenty times the annual savings to the value of your property. Though Roger Voisenet cautions, “a lot of appraisers don’t know that yet,” he says buyers appreciate now what appraisers will recognize later: Energy savers make your house more desirable. Says Seattle broker Reba Haas, “Do the update green, because everyone is now, for the first time in five years, asking about the utilities.”

 

6. Home Begins at the Front Door

ERA’s Kristin Willens says, “Don’t underestimate the power of a front door. People make up their minds in the first seven seconds of entering a house.” Surveyed brokers like a working door bell, and Voisinet says don’t forget an overhang, such as an awning or portico, above the front door. “If you don’t have a way out of the rain, or shelter from the sun while you are fumbling for your keys, you are really missing out.”

 

7. What’s Under Your Feet?

Don’t undervalue the materials you’re standing on. Ninety-four percent of real estate pros recommend spending some money on floors. But it doesn’t have to be a lot of money. For an estimated average investment of $600 to $900, brokers report that the return in value comes in at up to $2,000.

And you can spend even less than that. A few well-placed nails can eliminate distracting squeaks. Other small projects with a big impact include repairing broken tile, patching damaged floor boards, and tossing out the wall-to-wall carpeting.

If you want a wood floor that holds value, Reba Haas suggests engineered hardwoods. If you like cork, she says floating cork wears better than cork tile which is glued down and can peel.

 

8. Easy Bath Upgrades

Brokers, one and all, say spiffing up the kitchen and bath is a sure bet for adding value to your home. Surveyed brokers say these kinds of improvements can get expensive. It may not be economical to do a major renovation if you are trying to spend as little as possible before putting a house up for sale. But some upgrades are cheap, easy, and fast…especially in the bathroom.

Replace frosted glass for clear glass, clean the grout, remove rust stains, apply fresh caulk, update doorknobs and cabinet pulls, replace faucets, and install a low-flush toilet. Even buying a new toilet seat can make a difference.

 

9. Neutral Wall Colors

If you’re getting ready to put a house on the market, don’t allow walls with chipped paint to go unmaintained. If you need to do more than a touch up, choose neutral colors.

Broker Reba Haas says, “Get out of your personal taste.” She says buyers want to be able to project their own ideas onto a space, and sellers can help with toned-down wall color.

 

10. Remove the Question Marks from Your House

Haas calls it the “What’s that?” factor, and whatever it is (1950s wallpaper in a 1930s bungalow, a broken front step or cracked threshold, green-and-blue vinyl flooring), fix it or remove it. She recommends getting the impartial advice of a friend who can tell you what’s drawing attention and raising questions for the wrong reasons. “The more questions, the more people are likely to say, ‘We don’t want that house.’ Sometimes it’s the quick fix that someone put in thinking, ‘I can live with it.”’ Haas says those fixes bite you back later when it’s time to sell because prospective buyers are looking for more than jerrybuilt solutions.

 

The value gained from completing these projects is huge. With how-to resources available on the internet, homeowners can tackle most of this work themselves. If that’s not an option for you, click here!

 

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