If you’re thinking of selling your home, you want to make sure you’re getting the best return-on-investment possible. But if you’re money-conscious, or just starting out like me - you need to know how to add value to your home on a budget.
Well, I did some research for us both, and it turns out that there are a whole host of options for making your home irresistible to potential buyers, while still keeping your costs low.
I’ll go into more detail below, but just to give you an overview, the key points are:
- Focus on what matters most to modern buyers.
- Make an awesome first impression.
- DIY as much as much as realistically possible.
Let’s dive right in because I found some hidden gems that’ll serve our purposes greatly that you’ll want to hear.
What Matters Most To Modern Buyers
1 - An Updated Kitchen: According to an HGTV article I was reading, as well as one from Consumer Reports - the number one thing buyers look for in a new home is an updated kitchen. Now, what does that mean for us?
It means we need some affordable options for updating the kitchen’s appliances, countertops, cabinets, faucets, backsplash, and wall color. Before you run off thinking this is too much to worry about, don’t worry, we’re going to prioritize the list so you only have to focus on as many items as your budget can afford.
Luckily, some of the most important things for impressing potential buyers are also the easiest to do yourself. Specifically, I’m talking about the color scheme and the backsplash.
The color scheme. When it comes to painting your kitchen, the best choice is to go with a neutral color scheme. That’s because it’s the most likely to appeal to the largest number of buyers possible. You’ve probably done some painting before in your life, but if you haven’t done it in a while, here’s a great tutorial on painting your kitchen.
Creating your backsplash. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be some crafting genius to make your own awesome backsplash. Here’s an awesome tutorial from This Old House, where General Contractor Tom Silva teaches a total beginner how to do it step-by-step.
When it comes to everything else you could do to update the kitchen, the next most important step is having up-to-date appliances. There’s no need to go crazy here. Essentially, just make sure everything works and is no older than 10 years old max (5 is much better).
2 - Open/Flexible Living Space: After updated kitchens, the living space around your house is the next most important area of concern for adding value. There’s been a growing trend towards a more open floor plan in the past 5-10 years, which is especially popular among the millennial generation.
Adding on to that, modern buyers are particularly concerned with flexible living space. Among other things, this allows them to create an office space if they’re working from home (a growing trend).
So, knowing all this, what should we do? Since we’re concerned with budget, my mind instantly goes to a new paint job. Why? Because if all the rooms are generally the same color (again, neutral whites and grays work best) then buyers can easily use any room for any purpose.
I’m sure there are exceptions, but most people wouldn’t want to work from home out of a bright pink former nursery room.
In terms of making your space more open, here’s where you might have to bring out your inner Kool-Aid Man (Oh Yea!) and knock down some walls. This is probably the most difficult task you’ll find in this article, so it’s worth the budget to hire a professional if you don’t feel comfortable.
3 - Efficiency/Ease-Of-Use: The last feature that’ll make your house sell like crazy is its efficiency and ease-of-use. When you improve the way your home functions overall, you’re instantly increasing its value in both the short and long term.
Budget wise, the first thing you can do here is to switch out all your lighting for LED lights. They’re more energy efficient so they’ll save buyers money on the power bill. If you can find it in the budget, the next step is high-efficiency windows.
According to EnergyStar.gov, switching out normal double-paned windows for the more efficient versions can save homeowners over $100 a year! If you do go this route, don’t forget to bring it up to any potential buyers so they realize the value.
When it comes to ease of use, the most impactful thing you could do is switching out all carpet for hardwood (or high-quality laminate flooring for us on a budget). Of course, if you really need to save here, this is something you could do yourself.
Here’s the video I used when I helped my parents go through this process in one of their spare rooms recently.
How To Make A Great First Impression
Context, context, context. As with anything in life, the value of anything is determined by the frame that it’s presented in.
Just like a yummy cheddar cheese filling would make an otherwise delicious blueberry muffin revolting - you could have the most appealing home interior on the planet, and an eyesore exterior would make it unsellable.
Now, I’m not saying that your exterior has to look like the Taj Mahal or anything - only that it can’t distract all the hard work you’ve done to the interior.
So, how do we do that?
One really cool tip that I found involves taking a black-and-white photo. All you do is go out to the street in front of your house and take a picture, then convert that to grayscale (you can do this on most cell phones these days).
For whatever reason, the lack of color in the photo makes any flaws with your exterior (spots on siding, driveway, windows, etc…) immediately apparent. Just don’t try this tip when you take a selfie - trust me!
Staying with the exterior, one quick thing you can do that’ll have a huge impact is painting your door. You don’t have to go crazy with the colors here, you’ll be amazed at what simply having a fresh coat of paint on the door will do for your curb appeal. One thing that most people overlook is the driveway and sidewalk areas. Having these areas professionally pressure washed can really make a huge impact on the appearance of your home.
Moving on to the interior, this may seem obvious, but you’re going to want your house as clean and tidy as humanly possible. Again, it's all about the way you present your home that makes it valuable in the eyes of potential buyers.
So don’t risk losing value in their minds just because you couldn’t clean up the clothes laying on your bedroom floor. Come on, your mother would be ashamed!
And that’s all, folks.
I hope that you’ve learned as much from this post about increasing your home value on a budget as I did during all my research. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of affordable ways to increase your home value, and you can do most of them yourself!
I wish you the best in selling your home, and if you’ve yet to find a realtor, I highly recommend the friendly team of agents we’ve got here at Network Realty.