Your house is your home, at the very center of your life. But it’s also the very center of your financial life, which is why most homeowners understand the importance of increasing the value of this asset. Working your way up the property ladder requires making savvy investments because not all improvements are equal–only a portion of your expenses will be recovered when you sell, and some upgrades may not deliver any return at all.
Since you won’t have the budget to address every single issue, and nor would that make financial sense, you have to make smart choices and consider what types of upgrades actually motivate buyers. As you make your decisions about the best investments, always keep in mind any factors that affect the liveability of your home, since you can be sure that’s what potential buyers will be thinking about. For example, depending on your climate, the ability of your home to heat or cool itself efficiently will really affect its value and appeal. In general, you have to really think about what’s going to make it a nicer place to live in, and try to meet those needs.
Here are our 7 top tips to help guide you along this process of increasing the value of your home, while ensuring the best return.
- Address Potential Deal breakers
Before you begin to consider cosmetic enhancements that can pull prospective buyers in, you have to address the potential deal breakers that will definitely send them fleeing away. Any kind of structural problems or other big-ticket issues will severely affect the value of your home because these headaches will already begin to feel like a major burden to potential buyers, before they’ve even decided to purchase the property. On the list of these more pressing issues:
–a roof that sags or leaks
–infestation of rodents or insects
–cracks in the walls
–rotting roof timbers or joists
–roof tiles that are broken or missing
–old and inadequate pipework or electrical wiring
When your home has this type of glaring problem, any money that’s invested in curb appeal or a new kitchen sink is extremely misguided. Though addressing these types of defects can be some of the most expensive projects, they are absolutely necessary if you want to increase the value of your home. These are the type of investments that are guaranteed to be recouped in the sale, and will infinitely boost the attractiveness of your property.
In an area with cold winters, potential buyers are definitely going to be thinking about their future heating bills. Make your home more appealing by making this concern a non-issue.
–Begin by making your home as efficient as possible with relatively low cost upgrades such as adding double glazed windows, sealing drafts around windows or doors or adding insulation to loft space.
–If your boiler is older or not working properly, this will come up during the inspection process and should be a priority for your list of upgrades.
–Installing new radiators or underfloor heating would be great selling points as well.
–If you can afford it, adding a central heating system is always going to recoup the cost because this feature is so attractive.
If you live in a place with hot summers–or a climate where it’s just always hot–your potential buyers are going to be paying careful attention to how well your home can keep its cool.
While, in theory, central air is worth the investment, this isn’t always the case and it can actually end up being a waste that doesn’t recoup its cost. If most of the homes in your neighborhood tend to have central air, as is the case in parts of Florida and other hot regions, then the absence of this system can be a mark against your home. But, in most cases, a window air conditioner can meet your needs sufficiently while also costing less every month. Air conditioners are a targeted energy use–you turn them on in the rooms you’re using–while central air results in much higher bills because you end up cooling even the empty rooms.
The key to choosing the best window AC unit is to get one that’s properly sized for the room. If it’s underpowered, it needs to run more often– higher bills! Overpowered and you’ve shelled out a lot of money for an expensive unit, unnecessarily, and again–higher bills! To avoid this, measure the length and width of each room with a tape measure and multiply the numbers together. Now that you have the square footage, consult the charts available with all units and choose the adequate capacity (which is called the BTU). There are other considerations, like if the AC has an automatic timer or an air cleaning function. But what matters to potential buyers is that your home will be liveable during hot weather, without extremely high energy bills.
- Upgrade Your Kitchen
One place where your dollars are always well spent is the kitchen, but even this “slam dunk” investment needs to be carefully considered. Kitchen renovations are expensive and having a professional kitchen in a modest house doesn’t match the profile of your prospective buyer very well SO your investment isn’t going to be recouped. A good tip is to compare your kitchen with others in your neighborhood, especially in terms of the appliances, and then take a good look at your budget to see what’s practical. But you don’t need to do a full kitchen makeover to increase the value of your home.
–Replacing faucets and sinks can deliver a big payoff, without a huge investment. The same is true for attractive lighting.
–In a pinch, painting worn cabinets can give them a new lease on life while DIY projects like fresh wallpaper can also make the kitchen more appealing.
–You can also get very far with giving your kitchen the scrub of its life, making sure that it’s absolutely spotless and ready for a successful viewing.
- Upgrade Your Bathrooms
Prospective buyers care a great deal about bathrooms — again liveability is key! While splashing out on a new bathroom may not be possible, you can focus on making this space as clean and functional as possible.
–For inexpensive fixes that have a big impact install new shower heads, faucets, mirrors and lighting.
–If your bathroom is really in a poor state, looking worn out or unclean, an innovative solution is brightening things up with a couple coats of epoxy paint. This cheap, DIY, weekend project will leave your tub and tiling gleaming white, as well as almost indestructible, at a fraction of the cost of a real renovation.
–Upgrade your toilets with new hardware with inexpensive kits from Home Depot. And while you’re at it, replace the toilet seat.
–Clean fanatically… and then clean some more on top of that!
- Low Cost/High Value Upgrades
Now that the major projects are tackled, begin addressing the small items that can easily turn off prospective buyers if they slip through the cracks as you evaluate your home. What’s required here is not a lot of money, but some careful attention.
Begin by taking care of any small defects that can cumulatively affect the value of your home. This includes mouldy or yellowed sealants in the bathroom (something you can fix yourself for less than $5), dripping taps, doors or windows that stick or cracks in the plasterwork.
Another low cost/high value upgrade is having more storage, which is always a selling point. It’s easy enough to maximize this resource to increase the value of your house or apartment just by looking around. Identify if there can be shelving added to concealed nooks, space in the cellar or attic, or unused wallspace.
Beyond these tips, use a critical eye to meet the needs of potential buyers. Should you add a privacy fence? Replace an old garage door? A proactive attitude is the key to increasing the value of your home and maximizing your investments.
- Make Your Home Shine
Now you must add the final cosmetic touches to the presentation of your property, in time for the first viewing. While these intangibles cannot be quantified, it’s simple enough to know that buyers will be much more attracted to a home that’s homey, clean and well styled.
–Buyers will decide how they feel about your home before they enter so make sure the exterior is looking its best. Grungy siding should be power washed, grass should be weeded and mowed, any clutter should be removed. Backyards too!
–Beautify with a fresh coat of paint in every room.
–Clean and organize, then style with flowers, artwork, accessories and plenty of lighting
–Bake cookies! Yes, this is a real trick used by sellers, because the smell is so inviting. Scented candles will also do.
How many of these tips you utilize will depend on your budget, free time and appetite for weekend DIYing. It’s certainly worth your energy because potentially tens of thousands of dollars are at stake. This process is all about maximizing what you already have and making it work for you. Remember that with careful investing (both of time and money), it’s absolutely possible to significantly bump up the value of your property and get top dollar when it’s time to sell.