Upgrades that will boost the value of your home

Editors of This Old House magazine


Open Up Your Rooms

If there is one thing a prospective homebuyer is not going to respond well to, it’s feeling cramped.

Find ways to create space and create the illusion of a light and airy space if you’re trying to sell. Modifications can be as simple as moving some furniture around and uncluttering. You want buyers to be able to envision themselves in your space. You might also consider removing a wall, merging a walk-in pantry with the kitchen, or taking down a pass-through wall between a dining room and a kitchen if you find the offers just aren’t coming. Invest in opening up and you’ll be more likely to clinch a deal.

Let There Be Light

According to a survey of 2000 real estate brokers conducted by HomeGain, the number one feature that enhances a home's appeal is lighting. Installing a sun tube is an excellent way to bring in natural light without breaking the bank. A sun tube uses reflective material to pipe natural light into a dim room, and can be had for a fraction of the cost of a full skylight. During an open house, give rooms a warm glow by turning on the lamps in living rooms and bedrooms. Consider adding a dash of style by installing pendant task lights over kitchen islands and flanking bathroom mirrors with sconces (as shown).

Make Energy- and Money-Saving Upgrades

According to Virginia broker Roger Voisinet, installing a solar water heater costs about $7000, before factoring in a return of $2,100 in green tax credits and a regular expectation of up to 80% lower water-heating bills. Money-saving and energy-smart features add value to your property and appeal to buyers looking to save money in the long run, so consider swapping outdated appliances for energy-efficient ones. Here’s how to make sure products are as green as they claim to be.

Don’t Forget Underfoot Upgrades

Cracked flooring tiles or vinyl aren’t just unsightly—they make buyers wonder what else you’ve let slide. You know: The stuff they can’t see. Flooring is often an afterthought, but what’s under the carpet matters to homebuyers. You can install new floors for $600 to $900, but you can expect an overall value increase of up to $2000. The best materials to appeal to a buyer are engineered hardwoods and floating cork floors, which hold up well over time. If full replacement is out of your reach, make sure you at least patch damaged floorboards, repair squeaks, and refinish.

Cure All the Question Marks

Long-time homeowners can become accustomed to flaws that a new pair of eyes would notice right away. Your temporary duct tape repairs that get the job done “for now” can make your home appear shoddy to buyers. Perhaps you replaced a cabinet door, but never got around to staining it to match the rest of your set. Or maybe you have a door knob-shaped hole in your drywall you never got around to patching. Do a walk-through with a friend and ask them to point out a few turn-offs. Pay attention to chipped paint, water stains, and anything else that could make a prospective buyer wonder, ‘Hm. What happened there?” or “Am I going to have to fix that?”

Make a Great First Impression With a Tidy Landscape

Trees and shrubs are nice. When they’re well maintained, that is. Although 83% of realtors say mature trees enhance the value of a house, that value drops if the plants aren’t healthy, well maintained, and/or sited properly. Not to mention overgrown greenery kills your curb appeal and just looks like a lot of back-breaking work to prospective buyers. Show the buyers what they want to see: your house! Trim back branches and bushes and let the front of your home speak for itself.

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