Investment Specialist, Team Denver Homes - RE/MAX Professionals.

If you’ve ever binged a real estate reality TV series, you know how satisfying a before-and-after home reveal can be. With big teams and big budgets, these shows renovate, reconstruct and redesign houses to boost their resale value. It’s entertaining TV, but if you’re an average homeowner, it’s probably not very relevant to your experience. 

Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of money or knowledge to increase the value of your home. Little changes make a big difference — you just need to know what to prioritize. 

Do Your Homework First 

If you’re unsure where to start, search for properties under contract around your neighborhood. Pay attention to days on market, noting which houses went under contract fastest. Look at the photos of those properties. What are the similarities and differences? What changes could you make to your house to replicate the success stories? 

I have a client who goes through this process every time he is about to flip a property in a particular neighborhood. He browses properties that sold for higher than asking, had the shortest days on market or received multiple offers, then tries to identify and recreate the common characteristics in the listings.  

Here are nine effective home improvements you can make to get the most out of any budget. 

For A Modest Budget 

1. Replace the backsplash in the kitchen.

A colorful tile or unique design makes the entire kitchen look more polished, even if you don’t make any other updates. 

2. Repaint dark wood. 

Many homes built in the ‘80s and ‘90s feature medium- to dark-brown wood cabinets and trim that now look outdated. Simply paint the wood white and replace old cabinet handles, hinges and knobs for an immediately brighter, more modern aesthetic. 

3.  Replace baseboards. 

New baseboards refresh a home in a subtle but powerful way. I’ve found that if you walk buyers through a house with new baseboards and a comparable house with old baseboards, they will perceive the first home as newer and more valuable, even if they can’t identify why. 

4. Invest in quality light fixtures.

One of the best ways to spend several hundred dollars is to replace all the light fixtures in your home — or, if you have a limited budget, at least buy one high-end fixture for the dining or living room. It’s hard to believe, but premium light fixtures have a major influence on offer prices. 

I’ve seen clients pay $300 for a dining room chandelier and receive offers for $25,000 higher than the previous week. One client installed an identical fixture in all of his investment properties after seeing how much a buyer loved it in another house. A few of his properties that had been standing on the market for three months received offers just after the update. 

5. Replace window coverings.

If your windows have blinds, leave them as is, but if they have old curtains, replace them with fresh window coverings. New curtains don’t cost much, and they instantly brighten up a room.   

6. Spruce up outdoor space.  

Curb appeal is important when you sell a house. Make small changes, like planting colorful flowers, or bigger investments, like replacing the lawn. Because of pandemic restrictions, buyers often have to wait outside for their turn to view a property, so adding a comfortable sitting area in the yard — even a couple of inexpensive deck chairs — can make a good first impression.

7. Take new photos. 

If you’re working with a realtor and your house hasn’t sold or had an offer in more than 30 days on the market, tell your agent that you want to rearrange the furniture and take new photos of the house. Many times, you will take photos when you list the house and leave them up for the duration of the listing, even if it’s not moving. It’s worth it to spend a few hundred dollars to bring in a stager to rearrange the furniture and a photographer to take new photos. Replace the first photo on the MLS with a new interior shot, and you are likely to generate new interest because it looks like a fresh listing.  

For A Larger Budget 

8. Create more bedrooms. 

When you live in a home, it’s common to want to create more space — for instance, knocking down walls to make rooms larger. But for resale value, creating more bedrooms is usually a better strategy. If you have a 1500-square-foot house with an extra-large room or an office, consider converting the extra space into an additional bedroom. Even if the bedrooms will be smaller as a result, you will likely increase the value of your home. The appraiser will estimate value based on the number of beds and baths, as well as square footage.

9. Add a secondary unit.   

If you own a single-family home with an additional dwelling unit (ADU), or your neighborhood zoning allows you to build one on your property, this will be incredibly attractive to buyers. Make sure the ADU has its own entrance so a buyer could rent it to long-term tenants as a source of income. For example, if you have an ADU in your basement, add a separate exterior door that doesn’t go through the main house. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or have any specialized expertise to increase the value of your home. Invest in small upgrades to make a big impact with potential buyers.

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