If you plan to sell your home soon, you want to ensure it’s in a place for you to get the best price for it.
You can sell your house as-is, or you can take the time to make a few calculated improvements and increase your resale value. You can even increase it enough to outweigh the cost you spent on the repairs and modifications. That means more money in your pocket.
But where do you start? And which home improvements add the most value?
In this guide on how to increase home value, we’ll cover:
- Is It Worth It to Increase Home Value?
- How to Increase Property Value: The Basics
- The 10 Best Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value
- 5 Steps to Follow Through on Home Improvement and Add Value
Let’s dive in.
Is It Worth It to Increase Home Value?
Firstly, is it worth the effort to increase your home’s value? Why not just save the time and money by selling as-is? Especially if most home improvement projects may increase value but won’t recoup the full cost you put in.
The main reason is that when you add value to your home, you get a bigger paycheck when you sell. If you plan to live there for a while, you get to enjoy your improved home and get some of that cost back upon sale.
However, if you plan to sell immediately, you would be right to assume that not every home improvement makes sense. While not every project will regain the total cost you put in, some do, and these should be your priority before selling.
However, even for projects that don’t add as much value as they cost, there are benefits to consider beyond their direct return on investment (ROI). For example, adding value to your home also helps it sell quicker. And if it’s a seller’s market, or if your home is too good to pass up because of the improvements you’ve made, you can end up with a bidding war that more than recoups your costs.
How to Increase Property Value: The Basics
Before we get into the best projects for increasing your home’s value, it’s important to understand what adds value to a home. Ultimately, there are two methods you can use to increase a home’s value:
Replacing refers to replacing parts of your current home. It includes making repairs and updating the outdated. If you have a bad roof, you can repair it to increase your home’s value. If you have an outdated A/C system, you can update it.
You can also break this aspect into renovations vs remodeling. Renovations are the small-scale repairs and updates that make a space look better, like painting. Remodeling consists of large-scale changes that completely change the layout or purpose of a room, like updating to an open-concept design.
On average, renovations are better at increasing value before selling. They tend to offer more benefit and require less of an investment to complete.
Expanding refers to adding extra space to your home that doesn’t currently exist. This is when you hire contractors to add a bathroom, sunroom, garage, or even another level to your home.
The 10 Best Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value
1. Deep Clean and Declutter
To start simple, you’d be amazed how much a deep cleaning and decluttering can affect the resale value of your home. This is by far one of the easiest ways to increase home value. How does it work?
When buyers and appraisal agents look at your house, they can’t see it for what it’s worth if they’re wrinkling their noses at bad odors or stepping over clutter. A clean, organized home helps peak buyer interest and show off your home’s strong suits.
This tip is safe to do yourself, but if you’re struggling to get the job done, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a professional to help deep clean and organize. If you own a lot that you don’t want to get rid of, consider renting a storage unit or borrowing a friend’s garage.
To go a step further, depersonalize your home before showings. Buyers need to be able to picture themselves living in your home, so removing personal photographs and displaying neutral colors is a great way to help them do just that.
Value Added: The average increase in resale value is $1,728 after a deep clean and $2,584 after a decluttering.
2. Level Up Your Curb Appeal
People value how the outside of their home looks. After all, you see your home’s exterior every time you return home, and it contributes to every guest’s first impression—including your potential buyers’.
Thus, an increase in curb appeal equals an increase in home value.
You can create a more welcoming and aesthetically pleasing home exterior in a few ways:
- With a fresh coat of paint
- With attractive landscaping
- With a new mailbox
- By adding outdoor lights, especially if it gets dark early
- By replacing the front door or repainting it
Value Added: Property curb appeal can account for up to 7% of a house’s sale price.
3. Add Some Fresh Paint
The exterior of your home isn’t the only place that can use a color makeover. Painting the interior of your home can help it appear cleaner, newer, and bigger depending on the color scheme you choose. This home improvement is another great choice if you plan to sell sooner than later.
If you don’t have the time or budget to repaint your entire home, start with high-traffic areas (like the living room) and rooms with unusual color schemes (like your kid’s bright pink bedroom).
Value Added: On average, a fresh coat of paint adds 1% to 3% to a home’s final sale price.
4. Remove Those Popcorn Ceilings (Yikes)
If you have an older house, you may still have some popcorn ceilings on display. There’s no quicker way to make a home feel dated than to look up and see that familiar popcorn pattern above you.
Fortunately, updating your ceiling texture doesn’t have to be a complicated process, as long as it’s asbestos-free. A professional can quickly make your ceilings one solid, smooth color.
Added Value: The average cost to remove popcorn ceilings across the nation is $1,853, but you can completely recoup this cost in resale value. It may not directly result in extra profit, but it can help you sell faster and increase the likelihood of a bidding war. The larger your home, the more likely you are to profit from the update alone.
5. Create an Energy-Efficient Home
As more people begin to value energy conservation—and the utility savings that come with it—the more people are willing to spend on an energy-efficient home.
There are ways you can make your home more energy-efficient for every budget, including:
- Sealing your windows. Perhaps the easiest way to increase energy efficiency, sealing your windows ensures your HVAC doesn’t have to work harder to heat or cool the house. Double or triple glaze the windows if you haven’t already.
- Installing a smart thermostat. If your home doesn’t already have one, a smart thermostat can better control energy usage to ensure you never use more than necessary.
- Getting a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater heats water on demand instead of wasting energy continuously heating water in a tank. This is a smart choice if you have a higher budget and want to make a more significant improvement.
- Installing solar panels. Solar panels are the most costly option when it comes to energy efficiency, but they make the biggest difference. They are particularly great if you live in a sunny state like Florida, where they’ll never struggle for power.
Added Value: Your exact ROI will depend on which energy-efficient updates you choose to make. However, according to the National Society of Home Builders, home buyers are willing to pay an additional $8,728 upfront on a home that saves them $1,000 a year in utility bills.
6. Upgrade Your Appliances
Upgrading the appliances in your home is another way to increase resale value and speed up the sale process, particularly your fridge, washer/dryer, and built-in stove. While this method can be quick and easy, it’s not necessarily cheap—unless you’re an expert bargain hunter.
Your best bet with this strategy will be to choose modern stainless steel appliances. Stainless steel has proven to be timeless and a preference among buyers.
Added Value: According to HomeLight, upgrading to all-new stainless steel appliances costs an average of $4,229 and has an average ROI of $5,982.
7. Replace Outdated Carpeting
Worn carpets quickly reduce your home’s perceived value and affect your recommended listing price or appraisal. Replacing them with newer carpeting or (better yet) hardwood flooring will modernize your home.
If you don’t have the budget to update your flooring, then be sure to give your carpets a good clean before listing your home. We recommend having someone else look over your carpets to catch any stains or pet odors your nose and eyes have grown accustomed to.
Added Value: Wood flooring can boost the sales price of your home by 2.5%. The average ROI of installing hardwood floors is about 70% to 80%.
8. Update Your Kitchen and Bathrooms
If you’re going to renovate any rooms, the kitchen and bathroom are the places to prioritize. These areas of the home receive a lot of traffic and are often seen by guests. They are also the place to make a statement, whereas bedrooms are more universal.
Retiling the shower or updating cabinets with new hardware are examples of quick renovations that increase the value of these rooms and, therefore, your home. The kitchen, in particular, is a central feature with an active use—and many simple renovations can make it easier and more enjoyable to use.
Added Value: Added resale value will depend on the changes you choose, where you live, and your home. Remember that small renovations are best for selling quickly and increasing home value beyond your investment. Full remodels are only suggested if you plan to stick around and enjoy the changes for a while. A minor kitchen remodel retrieves an ROI of 81%.
9. Make More Space (If You’re Not Selling Right Away)
If you’re fortunate enough to have a high budget for home improvements and plan to wait several years before selling, a home addition can be a great option.
Home additions that can increase your home value include adding an enclosed back patio, an extra room to the side of the house to expand the main floor, or even adding another floor to the house.
Additions are the most expensive option on this list, and they don’t usually recoup the full cost in return. For this reason, we don’t recommend making additions for the sole purpose of increasing your home’s value before the sale.
Added Value: Your ROI on an addition will depend on what kind of addition you make and how you go about it. As an example, according to national data in 2022, a midrange bathroom addition increases resale value by $33,160 but has an ROI of 51.8%.
10. Stage Your Home When You’re Ready to Sell
Whether you’re selling your home next week or in 5 years, when you do, one of the best ways to increase perceived home value is to invest in a staging service. Stagers organize your home and rent furniture to maximize your home’s appeal.
This service helps buyers picture themselves living in your home, emphasizes your home’s positive features and minimizes its negative ones, and increases interest to sell faster and for a higher price.
On average, staging costs somewhere between $745 and $2,659.
Added Value: In one study on staged homes, 75% of sellers had an ROI of 5% to 15% over the asking price.
5 Steps to Follow Through on Home Improvement and Add Value
1. Identify Your Goals
Start by identifying your goals. How much is your home worth now, and how much would you like it to be? You’ll also want to know if you plan to sell as soon as possible or how long you plan to stick around.
If you’re looking for a quick sell at a higher price, then faster bang for buck renovations will suit you best. If you have more time, you might consider larger projects—if you’re up for it and if they’ll improve your life until you sell.
2. Get a Home Inspection
Usually, buyers hire home inspectors to evaluate a house before they buy or enter negotiations. However, as a seller, you have the option to get ahead of the curve and hire your own inspector. Why should you?
The right home inspector can identify repairs you’ll want to prioritize in your home improvements. It will also alert you to the items a buyer’s inspector might find that they can then use to negotiate a lower price. Knowing any problems in advance allows you to better prepare for negotiations or fix the problems in advance.
3. Set Your Budget
Next up: figure out how much you can afford and are willing to spend on increasing your home’s value. You’ll want to be specific with your budget, so you can better hold yourself to it.
If you want to avoid going into debt (until you sell your house), your budget will be as much as you can afford to take out of the bank. But if you borrow money, you may be able to pay it back with the additional money you receive by increasing your home’s value.
How to Finance Home Improvements
How you finance your home improvements will depend on your goals, but you have a few options to make it work.
- Saving up: This is a good option if you have the time to save what you’ll need.
- Credit cards: Credit cards are only a good choice for less expensive projects you can pay off quickly. Be sure to get one with 0% APR.
- Home equity loans: These turn your home’s equity into accessible funds and work like a second mortgage.
- Personal loans: If you don’t have enough equity, a personal loan is a solid option. In most cases, the interest rate will be higher than a home equity loan but lower than a credit card.
- Cash-out refinancing: If you have equity but don’t want a second mortgage, you can cash-out refinance. This is only a good option if current cash-out rates are lower than your current rate.
Your bank or a financial advisor can help you determine which option is best for you.
4. Choose Your Projects
Now that you know your goals and budget, you can choose the home improvement projects that help meet those goals within your budget. Consider the 10 ways to increase home value above, but keep it to those that make sense for your home. (You don’t need a new coat of paint if your paint already looks good.)
You can also ask your realtor what improvements add the most value locally based on what local buyers want.
And remember, small renovations usually have a better ROI than large projects.
5. Document Your Plan
The last step before you spring into action is to document your plan of attack. At this point, you know what increases the value of a home, which projects you want to do, how much you’re willing to spend, and how you’ll pay for it. What’s left is to outline your schedule and needs.
Include your project deadlines, the materials or contractors you’ll need, and write down your steps. If you’re doing more than one project, does the order you do them in matter?
Once you create your plan, you’ll be ready to replace daydreaming with action. And when the time does come to sell, you’ll enjoy a heftier check to build your future with.