Cheap improvements to boost home value

By Polly Keary, Editor
With housing prices rising, some homeowners are wondering if it's time to sell.
If you are trying to sell, local real estate experts agree that it doesn't take a big home improvement investment to get top dollar for your home.
Rather, with some effort and some small expenditures, your home can stand out from many others and fetch you a motivated buyer.
"Fetching top collar for your home in today's great market doesn't require an $80,000 kitchen remodel or an expensive landscape redesign," said Monroe REMAX real estate professional Ed Hurst. "Real estate experts say your best bet is to invest a little sweat equity into a series of small weekend jobs-$300 or less-that boost your home's appeal and eliminate buyer's biggest objectives."
Here are the easiest things that two local real estate experts say to do to add value to your home without breaking the bank.
1. De-clutter-รก
The single easiest and fastest way to improve that value of your home, said both Hurst and longtime Windermere agent Shirley Hudson, is to get the clutter out.
"De-cluttering should be the first job sellers cross off their list before starting any other project," said Hurst.
Most people, he said, get used to their clutter and don't see how distracting it would look to a buyer.
"You want to give a buyer the chance to see their stuff in your house," he said.
"Rent a storage unit and get your stuff out there, especially the stuff that's personal, like pictures of your family," said Hudson. "Make it so someone can come in and see themselves in there."
2. Repaint to neutral colors
"If a buyer sees an orange kitchen with yellow highlights and a light blue wall, that is a detraction to most home buyers. They look at color," said Shirley Hudson of Monroe's Windermere Real Estate. "So one thing to do is look at what a buyer might see coming into your home and consider the colors you've used. You might want to consider repainting."
Neutral colors are best, she said.
3. Update windows
Windows can be expensive to replace. But not always, said Hudson.
"If you are the original owner of the house and your windows are fogged, quite often you will find that you have a lifetime warranty on those windows and you should get them replaced free," she said. Twice recently clients have gotten new windows that way, she said.
Also, the PUD may have programs to help you replace old windows with more energy-efficient models.
4. Make over cabinets
The kitchen is the room you really want to get right, said Hurst. And cabinets are the biggest problem, he said.
"You don't need to get your cabinets refaced or replaced to make them look presentable," he said. "If they're scratched or look dated, just spring for a couple of cans of paint and put a new finish on them."
He advised choosing white or other neutral colors for the kitchen, and for bathrooms, too.
"If you have a larger kitchen that gets a lot of natural light, you could even try a dark chocolate brown or black," he said. And, he said, don't forget to replace the hardware.
"It's an accent that people notice," Hurst said. "Chose something simple and relatively modern for the pulls, preferably in a brushed nickel. Steer clear of brass, brightly-colored glass or anything decorated with pictures of birds or flowers."
5. Clean thoroughly
Buyers want a house that looks well-maintained. So make sure your home is well-groomed, said Hudson.
"Have it cleaned, and I mean really deep clean," she said. "Get someone to do the gutters, wash and paint the gutter edges, and get your roof cleaned."
Pressure wash the driveway for a finished look. Spruce up your landscaping, and take a look at your appliances. If any are decrepit, invest in upgrades.
"If your fence needs staining, stain it," said Hudson. "Those kinds of things make a huge difference."
If you are considering replacing an aging deck, use the extruded plastic product Trex, she said.
"It weathers beautifully and it's low maintenance," she said. "It's so much better than old, treated wood decks."
6. Update flooring
It's not as expensive as you think to put new floor coverings in your home, and it can make a world of difference, said Hudson.
Putting new linoleum in a bathroom can run a mere $100. And modern nylon or polyester carpets are affordable, wear extremely well and look great, she said.
Above all, don't spend so much that you can't recover the cost in the sale price, said Hudson.
"When I go on a listing, I limit what they spend on the home," she said. "In this market, they probably bought when the market was high, and they don't have a lot of money to put in."
The right agent can guide a seller through the process of prioritizing investments to maximize potential return, she said.
"The home is the most expensive purchase one will make in their lifetime," she said. "It has to make good economic sense."


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