Keeping up with home improvements is the best way to maintain and improve your home’s value. When homeowners defer the maintenance, when they decide to sell their home, they often find that the list of repairs and updates can be overwhelming.
If you are a getting ready to sell your home, and you’re a homeowner who keeps up with the maintenance, you can enjoy attending to the small home improvements that can make a big impact. Or, if you’re not in the place to do any major renovations right now, here are a few small things that you can all do that will add up to meaningful improvements in your home:
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Energy Saving Improvements
Today’s home buyers rank energy efficiency high on their list of wants. As newer homes over the last decade have added more energy efficient features, expectations have risen all around. Here are some small improvements that can make a difference.
1. Seal off drafts, which can reduce your energy bills 5 to 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The cost is a tube of caulk. Just doing that can drop your annual heating bill by $100, according to Department of Energy figures.
According to NAHB Surveys (National Association of Home Builders) Today’s home buyers are looking for an energy efficient home. 84% of Millennial buyers said they would pay 2% to 3% more for an energy efficient home, believing they would save more in energy costs for the life of the home. Be sure to publish your low energy bills and let those buyers know.
2. Buy a programmable thermostat, for about $100. By maintaining more constant heating and cooling levels, and always ‘remembering’ to turn down the heat at night, the average family will save $150 a year, according to the EPA.
3. Install dimmer switches. Increase the life of your bulbs, and reduce the amount of light when you don’t need it.
4. Install motion detectors outside. Only using outside lights when they are necessary is going to save.
Exterior Home Improvements
Small improvements on the exterior of the home can make a big impact on curb appeal.
1. Clean and clear a path to the front door. This is the most welcoming thing you can do. Powerwashing and cutting back the overgrown plants will do wonders for the appearance of the home. And all it takes is elbow grease!
2. A fresh coat of paint will go a long way. Painting the door and the shutters, staining wood and cleaning or replacing the hardware will make the entrance shine. House numbers can add a great sense of style, and believe it or not, even your mailbox can make a statement.
Repairing, caulking and painting wood trim will make a big impact. Nothing says “deferred maintenance” like ugly and rotten wood trim.
3. Lighting makes a big difference, whether it’s bright enough so that people can walk safely, whether it’s up-to-date, and whether it fits the style of your home. Simple, directional lighting can be very effective in showing off particular exterior features of your home or of your landscaping.
- How Lighting Can Increase Your Home’s Value, by Eric Jeanette, of Dream Home Financing.
4. Plants and flowers make the home welcoming and can add color, life and softness to the architecture. Using annuals can add instant life, and using plantings that are zone specific and natural to your part of the country make for easy care and turn out to be the best investment. Consult this plant hardiness chart by the US Department of Agriculture: [For a National Map]
Not in Maryland? Here’s an interactive map from the folks at Gilmour, they sell hoses, nozzles and sprinklers.
- Staging Your Home with Fresh Flowers
- Landscaping on A Budget
- Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal
- 10 Welcoming Front Entrance Enhancements for Under $100, by Jeff Gould, Fishhawk Florida Real Estate Agent
Interior Home Improvements
Go through your home, room by room, and look through fresh eyes. Take stock of the overall appearance and then take stock of the details. Make a list of what you see in your first impression. Don't edit the list, just write everything down. Later you can edit by cost and effort.
1. De-Clutter and Clean you home. It's the very first step to getting your home ready for the real estate market. You will be amazed at the difference, and you'll be able to really see the issues that need to be addressed, whether large or small. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes will help you notice the things that you may have gotten used to after years of living with.
2. Paint Covers a Multitude of Sins. A fresh coat of paint is the most inexpensive, yet most rewarding things you can do to raise the appeal of your home. In most cases, a neutral shade is advised so that potential home buyers can "see" their stuff in your home.
Take into account the style and architecture of your home, as well, and paint colors that are traditionally acceptable to the genre of your home. For example, if your home is Victorian, do use colors that are generally acceptable to Victorian styles. If your home is a Colonial home, don't use beach themed colors. It's smartest to give likely buyers what they're expecting, as much as you can control it.
3. Replace or Facelift? It's a good idea to do some reconnaissance, and find out what is the trend for your neighborhood or for comparable houses. If every home on the market comparable to yours has granite and stainless steel, you will want to make the right changes to be able to compete. If you're in a market where laminate is the norm, then you'll be wasting your money and overdoing your improvements to purchase high-end improvements.
Sometimes, a simple facelift is the best answer to updating. Painting old tired cabinets will save a lot. Replacing fixtures is inexpensive and can be just the right thing to bring your tired decor up-to-date. You will do well to consult a Realtor and Stager before you do any major updating.
- Refacing Cabinets: Options and Costs, by RIS Media
4. Interior Lighting is often something that sellers may overlook. One of the easiest and cheapest improvements may surprise you: get the brightest light bulbs you can for all of your light fixtures and lamps. Lighting up the spaces in all the rooms in your home will make them look larger, brighter and friendlier. (They will also show any dirt, so make sure to clean, clean, clean.)
5. Buyers are concerned about storage, smart home technology and energy efficiency. The trend is for smaller, but smarter homes, according to NAHB studies. Small, but convenient features can make a difference. Consider some of these ideas from our Pinterest board: Smart Storage Solutions:
- Improvements that Will Help Sell Your Home, by Bill Gassett, Bill is an Ashland MA Realtor
- Your Guide to High ROI Home Improvements, by Debbie Drummond, Las Vegas Luxury Homes
- Green Home Improvements, by Anita Clark, Real Estate Agent in Warner Robins Georgia
- Seven Home Improvement Tips to Make the Most of Small Spaces, by Nikki Henderson, Web Reporter.
Need Ideas to have an energy efficient home? Check out this Pinterest Board from Mike Chamberlain, MC2 Home Inspections in Plainfield, Indiana: