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Home Improvements: How-To Guide for Increasing Home Value

There are so many variables in figuring a home’s value, especially in a down housing market.  Location, age, features, overall condition, prevailing home values for the neighborhood; they all come into play when it’s time to sell.  One thing you can have some control over, however, is home improvements.  There are plenty of things you can do (some extensive, some not so much) that can all bring a decent return when the house goes on the market!

Remodeling Your Kitchen

The dark cabinets and harvest-gold (or avocado green) appliances of the Seventies aren’t likely to come back in style as part of some “retro” movement.  The kitchen is where much of the family activity centers in a house; people are going to be spending a lot of time there.  Consider replacing the cabinets, countertops, updating the appliances with more energy-efficient models, or adding new kitchen tile floors.  Add a new backsplash, or think about fresh paint or wallpaper for the kitchen.  Some kitchen remodeling projects can be taken on with the help of a home improvement how-to guide (if you’re handy), while others you might want to leave up to a contractor.

You may wind up spending as much as $15,000 on a kitchen remodel, but the home improvement value from it generally brings an 80-90% return at sale time.

Remodeling Your Bathroom

A new sink, new toilet, new light fixtures, or new shower door can all add up to a great return on your home improvement value.  Even a fresh coat of paint or wallpaper in the bathroom can increase its appeal dramatically.  Houses with one bathroom (usually 1960s or earlier homes) can be hard to sell; if you’re willing to take on the expense, consider adding a second bathroom.  

Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Think about what a prospective buyer is going to see when he drives up.  Consider the condition of your home’s trim, paint or stonework.  Think about putting in some landscaping (check to see what species will work best for your area and are freeze-, heat- or drought-resistant).  You might want to get a professional on board if you go the full route with sprinklers and irrigation built-in.  

Updates for Living Areas

There are all sorts of less-involved improvements that can make your home more livable and more appealing. All of these can easily be done with a home improvement how-to book rather than a contractor.  Replacing trim or wainscoting, replacing ceiling fans and interior doors or just a fresh coat of paint and drywall work can change the look of your home dramatically and are well worth the investment in home improvement value.  

More involved home improvement ideas might be new windows, a new deck or patio, or a new HVAC system.  Bear in mind, though, that a house that’s head-and-shoulders above the rest of the ones on the block may cause prospective buyers to shy away.  Don’t go overboard!

Read on for more factors that may determine a home's value