Best Home Improvements to Increase the Value of Your Home: 45 Experts Weigh In

It’s the question that nearly every landlord wants the answer to: What are the best home improvements to make that increase the value of my home?

Ultimately, you aren’t just embarking on your improvement project to increase your standard of living, you’d hope that there would be some return on your investment as well in terms of an appreciation in the value of your home.

Unfortunately, the question of which are the best home improvements is one where there is no one size fits all answer, and it would be foolish for us to assume that. It will depend on many factors such as the location of your home, preferences of the local market, the state of the economy, interest rates, and you could probably come up with a list the size of the Empire State Building listing numerous other examples! Some of the improvements are more extensive, while other just require a drill and some drill bits (find out about the best drill bits here).

However, being the curious cats that we are, we still wanted to see which ones were generally regarded as the best home improvements and took it on ourselves to ask some of the best 45 interior design and real estate experts in the business to see what they thought.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also wanted to see what prospective home buyers regarded as the most important improvement when looking for a home to purchase and decided to send out a questionnaire to get to the bottom of this – to 113 of them to be exact!

So before going through this comprehensive review, make sure you sit down somewhere comfortable, grab yourself a nice glass of wine from your wine fridge, and have a look at the results that we have summarized the results below in the infographic below.

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Most Important Improvement According to Prospective Home Buyers

To be completely honest, the results of the questionnaire surprised us a little bit. According to prospective home buyers, having an open plan is the most important home improvement. You always hear about updated kitchens and bathrooms, which granted do make up the 2nd and 3rd positions, but we didn’t expect open plan living to rank higher than these.

Unfortunately, if your house currently doesn’t have an open plan, creating one is likely going to be one of the more expensive home improvements you’ll be making as well. You’ll likely spend more on it than what you’ll end up getting back for it.

According to Home Advisor, the average cost of an improvement of this nature will set you back anywhere in the region of $41,563, which could go up or down depending on the amount of structural work that you need to do to complete it. According to our prospective home buyer survey, those that ranked it as their most important improvement would pay a premium of 15.3% for it, which would translate into an absolute premium of $32,067 assuming the median home price of $209,700.

This means that you would theoretically stand lose $9,496 by converting to open plan living! It goes without saying that you’d have to look at your particular house, costs, and local preferences before drawing this conclusion but it does teach us one important lesson:

Tweet: Just because buyers like a particular home improvement doesn't necessarily mean it's a good investment for you! because buyers like a particular home improvement doesn’t mean it’s a good investment for you!

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Which Home Improvement Provides the Best Financial Return?

This is another one that surprised us. According to the survey, upgrading your flooring is the best improvement you can make from a financial standpoint. Even though it only ranked 4th in overall importance to prospective buyers, those that ranked it as the most important were prepared to pay a whopping 16.8% premium for it – translating into an absolute premium of $35,268.

You’d just have to wait a little longer to find the person that regards upgraded flooring as the most important improvement, as compared to say, an open plan as we spoke about earlier.

Given the relatively lower cost of upgrading  your flooring, estimated at an average of $4,218 by Home Advisor, you would stand to gain $31,050 by upgrading your flooring! Again, these are all very rough numbers and you would have to assess your situation independently to see if these numbers work in your area, but it does teach us another important lesson:

Tweet: Sometimes it's the small and more affordable home improvements that can have a huge positive impact on the value of your home! it’s the small and more affordable home improvements that have the most positive impact on the value of your home!

What About the Improvements that Enhance the Overall Emotional Pull of a Home?

There’s one big problem with using a survey to find out what the best home improvements are, and that is the fact that humans are irrational and emotional beings.

It’s all nice and dandy to answer what premium you would be prepared to pay for a particular home improvement when asked in a survey; but will that answer still be the same when after months of searching you have finally found your dream home?

We all know the answer to this one, as many of us have been there before for better or for worse! The answer in most cases is no.

The reason is simple, once we form an emotional connection with a home it is difficult to look at it as a purely rational transaction. We start envisioning ourselves living in the home, asking ourselves how our children would feel, mentioning how cozy the place is, and potentially coming to the conclusion that we have to buy it because it just feels right. The problem is that all of these characteristics are subjective, and will mean completely different things to different people.

While conducting the survey, many of the experts asked me whether my question was relating to financial value or emotional value, and I think this is what they meant. It’s hard to put a price tag on emotional value, because it is different for everyone.

Having said that, I’m a firm believer that first impressions have a huge role to play in creating an emotional attachment to a home and many of the experts that we surveyed seemed to agree. Thankfully, there are many improvements you can make to improve the first impressions of your home and our experts have given countless of examples below. Simple things such as staging or refinishing your furniture, painting your front door, updating kitchen cabinets, and ensuring there is adequate lighting were all good examples. Be sure to read through all the expert opinions below!

Tweet: Often it's the first impression that causes a buyer to develop an irrevocable emotional bond with your home or not! it’s the first impression that causes a buyer to develop an irrevocable emotional bond with your home or not!

What Did the Experts Think?

Tallying up the answers from the experts, the majority included improvements to the kitchen and bathroom as part of their top 3 improvements with a total of 24 selecting those.

The remainder of the results are included in the image below, but please bear in mind that not all selections could be included due to space constraints.

For each of the individual responses from our experts, please see the table below that lists out each of the participants alphabetically (based on last name). Clicking on the name will take you down to the top 3 choices of that particular expert so that you can see their recommendation.

Make sure you make yourself a nice cup of coffee and sit down somewhere comfortably because reading through these is well-worth your time as there are some invaluable suggestions in there!

Also, be sure to leave a comment below and give us your top 3 home improvement recommendations that add value to your home!

Interior Design Experts Real Estate Experts
Michele Alfano
Carla Aston
Cristin Bisbee
Jaime Derringer
Kimberly Duran
Madeline Fraser
Mark Gee
Lynn Hoffman
Christa Keil
Kim Knox-Thurn
Laurie Laizure
Tiffany Leigh
Anthony Lukas
Ivan Meade
Charlotte Minty
Elena Morgan
Rachel Newcombe
Jane Ringe
Elisabetta Rizzato
Jennifer Sergent
Brett Torrey Haynes
Long Tran
Daniela Tuturas
Amy Vermillion
Ashley White
Temenouzhka Zaharieva
Fanny Zigdon
David Bates
Nathan Brooks
Anita Clark
Janie Coffey
Eric Drenckhahn
Chris Feltus
Mark Ferguson
Jason Hartman
Keith & Kyle Hiscock
Vina Ip
Ben Leybovich
Diane Pham
Karen Rittenhouse
Noah Rosenblatt
Engelo Rumora
Mark Savel
Jack Sheo
Sharon Vornholt


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I would say hardwood floors, updated kitchen cabinets, and appropriate paint colors!


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For increasing value I would say these are my top priorities.

Great flooring is always a good investment. I prefer a consistent material in the open areas of the house, trying not to chop up the spaces with different types of materials.

Countertops that are up to date. While you can sometimes get away with painting old cabinets to get a fresh look, the kitchen and bathroom counters can really make a difference in the perception of the age of a house. Updating those to a style that is simple and not too busy, whether a clean look marble, a matte finish black granite, or a solid surface quartz, can make a big impact. These are touchable items and as such should be given priority.

Next is a tie between a great overall paint job or remodeled bathrooms. I just worked on a job where we painted every single moulding, cabinet, wall, and ceiling in the house. It made such an impact changing from a yellowed, gold-toned house to a clean, crisp white and gray traditional home, highlighting all the beautiful details. However, a leaky, outdated shower that is cramped and unappealing can ruin any ambiance created elsewhere in the house.

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I would say that to add value to a home:

  1. Hardwood flooring throughout the home is classic, timeless and creates options for homeowners to add an area rug if they prefer.
  2. When redoing kitchens and bathrooms stay away from trendy options or overly personal color choices. Personal touches could be added with artwork and accessories. Keep it classic with taste.
  3. I think moldings add an element of richness and elegance to a room. Although my personal style is clean lines simplistic and minimal, I love the juxtaposition of Parisian moldings, parquet flooring and simplistic furnishings!

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Decorating. If your walls and ceilings have seen better days, then a lick of paint or a new wallcovering can give it a new lease of live. If you choose the colours or designs wisely, then they could add a feeling of light and space to a room, making it feel more spacious.

Kitchen and bathroom updates. The kitchen and bathroom are two of the key rooms when it comes to selling your home. Updating each of the rooms completely to a modern, contemporary standard can make a huge difference to the interior appeal of a home. But even if you can’t afford a full re-fit, updating your kitchen cupboards, worktops, tiles or appliances can be effective too. Likewise, changing the bathroom furniture, updating the fixtures and fittings or adding new tiling or flooring can make a significant difference.

Exterior updates. It’s not strictly speaking the interior, but it’s important to think about the outside of your home too. The exterior is just as important as the interior – and more so when it comes to first impressions. Think about how you could improve value through decorating the outside of your home, be it through a new lick of paint, cleaning windows, re-staining windowsills or having the gutters cleaned.

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Artwork: Artwork is an investment, not to mention one of the best ways to bring color and life into any space. People who invest in art generally can afford big time pieces, but there is a lot of art work out there at more affordable price points that will make your space look just as grand and fabulous! For instance, check out Custom ZOOMart.

Paint those walls white: Picking the perfect white is a science. Take your time looking at paint samples in different lighting thoughout the day. White makes any space feel bigger and brighter. Natural light is a huge selling point to buyers and the reflective quality of white give the allusion of having bigger windows!

Furniture & Decor: As a budget friendly decorating service, we are well versed in tricking the eye with inexpensive pieces that make can make any space look more expensive than it actually is. We help our clients add value to their homes without breaking the bank!

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Renovating kitchens and bathrooms are the number one way to increase your home’s value. If you can’t do a full renovation, I suggest refacing cabinetry, replacing countertops or investing in new appliances.

Flooring is a big seller and people really love hardwood, so I would suggest installing either real or engineered hardwood flooring.

Adding or enhancing natural light is a huge way to increase the value of your home, whether it’s adding French Doors or sliding doors to the outside, or enhancing windows that already exist through quality window shades and coverings.

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Regarding flooring, wooden flooring is for sure one of the best solutions for interior improving, both for its aesthetical appearance and for its insulating properties. However, there are also many other technologies regarding flooring, for example there are many high quality ceramics that really looks like wood but are easier to clean and to remove, for example if one tile will ruin you can easily change and use another one instead. However the charm of natural wood is unique, I think it can really warm up an interior and change its looks completely.

Painting, is another easy choice to improve one interior. Nowadays neutral tones have to be preferred, but it’s nice also to work on some focal walls by adding some colour, or maybe a darker shade, to make the interior look more interesting. Shades of greys and indigo are very on vogue at present, if you want to hazard some colour I think that shades of blue can be a very modern choice right now! Or maybe, you can also hazard some wallpaper on the walls. There are many gorgeous kind of wallpaper on commerce, and you can just remove it when you’re tired of the interior look.

Finally, lighting is extremely important for a good interior design. It is nice to have different kind of lighting features, for example some recessed spot lights together with pendant light, but they need to be dimmerable in order to regulate the light, to save energy and to change the whole atmosphere of the ambience. And of course, choose led for your lights!

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A common misconception that people have when hearing the words interior designers is that designers only make your home pretty. They certainly do that, but here at Garrison Hullinger Interior Design, we say that pretty comes last. Unless you’re looking to sell your home fully furnished, furniture and decor are not going increase the value of your home.

Some of the best ways to increase the value of your home is to invest in an interior designer for space planning the interior layout of your home, incorporating custom built-ins in spaces that are lacking storage and investing in surfaces that are neutral and speak to a broader audience.

I am talking about helping people (when remodeling or new builds) strategically place/size rooms so that they are more functional for said homeowners. For example – if you want a larger kitchen and don’t need a formal dining area, we might recommend taking some of the square footage from the once formal dining room and expand the kitchen and incorporate a built-in kitchen nook.

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The three things that stand out to me are investing in sustainable, handmade and well-made products. The recent push toward sustainability should be just a fad, it makes good sense both economically and ecologically. I find that designing a space that showcases handmade and locally-made goods almost inevitably tends to be a way to bring sustainable design into a space. There are artists like Graypants, DAMM Designs and Benjamin Hall who are producing incredibly crafted goods that bring modern style with a conscience.

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It depends on the kind of house and where it is.

For a family house it would be a good kitchen and open-plan.

For low spending improvements a vacuum cleaner and coat of paint work wonders.

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The 3 best ways of increasing the value of a home are:

Painting – Painting is the most inexpensive way to clean and bring a place up to date.  If you are planning to sell your home in the near future choose a colour scheme that is more neutral and appealing to a wider market.  If you are planning to live in the place for a while you can have a bold accent wall or focal point that you can paint in your favourite colour; and just before you put your place up for sale, you can repaint it.  This way you don’t have to repaint the whole house, but still have the opportunity to bring some of your own personality into the space and call it home.

Kitchen & Bathrooms – Definitely these are the spaces in which potential buyers want to see some features.  Double sinks in the ensuite are a must with a generous size bath tub, and granite or solid surface countertops and stainless steel appliances in the kitchens are also pretty appealing and a great way to bring a space up to date.

Small details speak louder than you think – To me, attention to detail brings a sense of care. Install new light switches, new faucets or new door hardware.  You can really bring a space up to date with these changes and make your space feel more finished.

Find luxury in what you touch every day.  Quality within your means is the best design decision.  Getting the advice of a design professional can save you lots of headaches the fees are well worth it.

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A painted house is a finished house. I can’t stress enough the importance of a good painter in your life.  That can either be a professional painter or someone in your family with a steady hand and the patience to finish the job off properly.  Paint is the perfect way to add personality to your home.  It could be as simple as a coloured front door that makes it stand out from the rest of the houses in your street.  Internally you are totally free to express yourself.  Not being a fan of bold colours I tend to use 1/4 strength of any colour selected.  Clients are always surprised by how bold a colour looks compared to the samples.  Bear in mind that the samples are only small, while the wall is magnified over and over again, intensifying the strength of the colour.

Make your home your sanctuary. By adding texture and layers when decorating your house, you are adding warmth, luxury and a feeling of home.  There’s nothing better at the end of a long day than heading somewhere that you can relax and enjoy.  A “sink into” sofa & a bed so comfortable you don’t want to get up in the morning, while reading some good morning quotes, are just the beginning.  Feather filled cushions are one of my luxuries, they’re a little more expensive but just so soft and comfortable.  A good pillow to sleep on makes all the difference in the world, as does a quality mattress.  As for the rest of your home it’s not how much money you spend but what you put into it.  Classic shapes and styles that will last for years to come will save you from having to replace them in a few year’s time.  One of my favourite pieces is a mid century chair that I pulled out of a dumpster (I was fortunate as there were a pair of them) and then reupholstered in a striking black and white pattern.   Keep your furniture neutral and add colour through accessories.

Declutter! It’s not only something you should do as you’re preparing to sell, but if you can get into the habit of permanently living this way, it makes for a far more harmonious lifestyle.   You’re not tripping over things, the house isn’t filled with unnecessary items and it lightens the feeling in your home.  I recently styled a home for a client and at auction they achieved $135,000 over reserve, which both the client and I believe was greatly assisted by decluttering the home and clutter free styling.

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New Kitchen and Bathroom – Estate Agents will tell you that a great kitchen ‘sell’s a property. In a family home it is truly the heart of the home and for singletons it’s the place where people gather at parties, so make it great.

Extension to make a new kitchen and family room – Extending the kitchen and creating a kitchen and family room brings a property right up to date and is hugely popular with families.  Bring the outside in with bi-fold or sliding full height glass doors and extend the flooring outside to visually expand the space.

Garden Landscaping – We seem to be enjoying better summers so it makes sense to incorporate living and dining spaces into your garden.  Including a lighting scheme in the landscape plan means the garden can be enjoyed at any time of year. Don’t forget to keep you garden tidy by removing shrubs as well. A great way of doing this is by getting a string trimmer (check this out for some of the best weed eaters)

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  1. Update kitchen
  2. Update bathroom
  3. Take down all personal family photos or knick knacks

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I would say designers have the most impact in increasing the value of your home by creating the right flow to meet your lifestyle needs. If you entertain a lot, they may take out walls to make your space more open concept. Form and function are top concerns for interior designer. The space should look beautiful, yes; but it should also be functional for the homeowners now and in the future.

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Refinish or new flooring. Refinish or paint the kitchen cabinetry and change out all the handles. Replace kitchen sink and bathroom facets. Those three things instantly make any place feel new again and increase value.

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Here are my thoughts in regard to your question about adding value to a home through interior design:

Upgrading the kitchen – the kitchen is the heart of the home and is the room where families spend most of their time. Minor changes could include updating the bench top to a composite stone, changing the cabinetry handles, upgrade to new stainless steel appliances or installing a more modern goose neck tap.

Creating space – knock out a non-structural wall that opens up space and creates a sense of flow to the house. Most people want a open floor plan – with a dining and/or living room off the kitchen. This larger area would be enhanced with flooring that continues throughout the whole area.

Update the bathroom – with good lighting, replace old, cracked or dirty looking plumbing with new ones; and most importantly include a vanity that is practical and looks great.

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With the housing market in a slump people are deciding to stay home more and make some mod upgrades. So which home improvement projects should you invest in to increase the value of your home, and which projects should you steer clear of?

Minor Kitchen Remodeling – A minor upgrade for your kitchen includes replacing countertops, refacing cabinets and replacing sinks, faucets and appliances. The best bang for your buck would be to demolish those ugly laminate counters and replace with natural stone or solid surfaces like Silestone, Caesar stone or Corian.

Renovate Unfinished Spaces – Transforming unfinished dark spaces into inviting spaces can increase the value of your home. If you have an unfinished attic, you can convert that space into another hideaway or guest bedroom. A cellar also has huge potential for a number of destination rooms like a home theater, playroom/great room for the family to gather.

Secondary Bathroom Model – Bring the spa experience into your home. If you have a secondary bathroom where you can forgo the tub for a walk-in shower with steam, go for it! Besides making you feel great, Steam is healthful and and can ease colds, improve your skin, and decrease stress levels. Mr. Steam has an amazing system with all the bells and whistles like light, music and aroma therapy.

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Your best investment in your home is in the kitchen and bathrooms. If you can’t afford a major remodel, focus on a fresh coat of paint, new hardware and updated lighting.

Window treatments can also create value to your home while creating privacy, helping balance a room visually and even improving curb appeal.

Homeowners are looking for smart storage solutions, so don’t forget investing in closet and garage systems.

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  1. Purchase The Best. As a sustainable interior designer, I always advise my clients to purchase the best new construction materials, finishes, equipment, appliances, and furniture you can afford.

Always know exactly what you are buying. If you need to be budget conscious, then buy fewer furniture pieces in order to purchase high quality healthy furniture. You can always order more in the future. This way you will end up with what you really wanted. The quality of your investment will always speak for itself.

  1. Reduce The Amount of All Resources Used. Today’s homes need to minimize the use of energy and water by using high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. Use water saving strategies and energy efficient appliances in the kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms that significantly improves water and energy consumption.
  2. Healthy Indoor Environmental Quality. Protect your health and make your home’s indoor air quality healthy and safe. Invest in non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and low-maintenance building products, interior finishes and furniture. Keep in mind that the toxic chemicals and organic pollutants used in paints, finishes and wood preservatives that are applied to household furnishings are deemed to cause cancer in people and animals.

Interior spaces should be designed to bring natural daylighting into main living areas. Sunlight is an essential element in our existence and is a fundamental component of green design. Homes and buildings with plentiful daylight helps keep us physically and emotionally happy. Natural lighting helps reduce the need to turn on electric during the daytime, cutting energy consumption by 50 to 80 percent, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Attention to details: You may think that people won’t notice that poorly mitred baseboard joint or that messy caulking job around the tub, but it really is true when they say that the devil is in the details. Making sure any work you do to increase your property value is done with care and precision will help to create a more polished overall feel, which will definitely make your home more appealing for resale.

Go Quartz: Years ago, granite was all the rage for kitchen countertops but today quartz is becoming the front runner for a few reasons. Firstly, it has a more predictable, subtler grain to it than natural stone, so it is more widely appealing. Secondly, it is a very low maintenance product, and unlike granite it does not need to be sealed and resealed. Lastly, it is a more environmentally friendly product, as most quartzes are recyclable. More and more people today are becoming in green products so they can add value to your home.

Bathroom Updates: They say bathrooms and kitchen sell homes, and a few small improvements in your bathroom space can add a lot of value for a little investment. Regrout so the space between your tiles is bright and fresh. Replace your shower curtain with a glass door. Update your faucet and cabinet hardware. Each of these small improvements will add a big boost to your bottom line.

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Interior design can help you make your home stand out and that has instant effect on its value.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to achieve this – brighten up your space with some paint, change lighting if necessary or add recessed lighting in the kitchen and bathrooms.

A bigger investment that will make quite obvious increase of the value of your home is real hardwood floors and refreshed kitchen look – a comfortable kitchen that needs no renovation will always attract attention and can increase value. New cupboard doors and handles and countertops from engineered stone or granite will considerably improve the aesthetic appeal of the space.

The other space in a home that is not easy to renovate is bathroom. If you invest in refreshing your bathroom so that it will not require any renovation, that will definitely add value to your home.

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Install / Improve mood lighting.

Upgrading / updating what is under your feet.

Breaking down non barrier walls to open up the space.

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Increasing the value of your home is long therm project which will  require a decent amount of money, some research in the interior design  domain and at least a little patience and attention to details. The  first thing that you have to keep in mind is that using quality  materials and accessories will most likely increase the value of your  home.

Flooring and doors are two of the pieces which will for sure increase the value of one’s home. This is the reason for which you should choose quality flooring, and pay attention at the durability of the  floors when choosing.

Doors can change one’s home completely. Take for instance an example,  you choose for your living room a sliding door, which will add a touch  of space to the room and will brighten the place instantly. Quality is a major factor when choosing doors as well.

Another department which will most likely change the looks of your home and add consistent value to it, is the lighting department. When choosing the lighting pieces you should buy only quality pieces that  fit the style in which you decorate the living space.

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Consider the best functionality for the space you have. So while that second bedroom might be great for storing all that furniture you mean to refinish ‘someday’ or the gym equipment that was used for 3 months and then forgotten, transforming it into a clean, presentable and beautiful bedroom will really add more value than just using it for storage. This also means paying attention to areas of the home like the basement or the attic space which can be transformed into living space. While it may seem costly, it does add value to a home to have separate living or bedroom spaces and careful consideration can really make a huge difference in terms of resale value.

Give consideration to the amount of light that the room receives. This is really about working with what you have. So while you may think that painting a space white will make a room that doesn’t have a lot of light brighter, it actually does the opposite. White becomes dingy in low light and can make a space seem darker and lifeless. Instead, embrace the low light and consider painting in a darker colour like slate grey or navy blue – the space will instantly look more purposeful and chic. Add interesting light fixtures around the room to create pools of light and remember to layer with interesting objects and textural accessories.

Invest in the rooms that sell a home – kitchens and bathrooms. This may mean spending a bit more on things like natural stone worktops or marble tiles in the bathroom. Consider consulting a designer to really give consideration to maximise space and storage. Often, you can recoup costs in resale if you are smart with your spending. While the cupboard carcasses aren’t as important to resale, quality worktops and good appliances are things that most buyers will be looking at and can really add value to your home.

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The top 3 interior design suggestions you would have to add value to your home? Kitchens, bathrooms, and lighting are all huge.


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It all depends on how much one wants to spend.  An updated kitchen or bath will almost always increase the value of one’s home.  That being said, not everyone has the means or time to spend on a full renovation so I like to recommend “facelifts” (meaning we don’t touch the footprint or the major specifications like cabinets).

A facelift can entail:

  1. Adding lighting under cabinets to brighten kitchen workspaces
  2. Changing tile backsplashes
  3. Painting kitchen cabinets with good quality paint that won’t chip.  Adding rollouts or functional inserts to cabinets and drawers.
  4. Updating the appliances.
  5. Good lighting all around is a must.  Replacing those old fixtures with LED recessed cans.
  6. New countertops in quartzite or a honed marble.
  7. Bathroom facelifts include taking out those old shower doors on frames and replacing with frameless.
  8. New toilets, sinks and counters.  Tubs are great to replace too but sometimes require too much tile tear up.
  9. General updates in the house:
  10. Have the floors refinished- a pain but what a difference
  11. Paint the trim and ceilings.  Amazing what a fresh coat will do.
  12. Change the door hardware if it looks old and outdated.
  13. Changing outdated overhead lighting to LED recessed cans is helpful.

A potential buyer’s perception is just as important as dollar value.  The quicker the house sells, the better!


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Without a doubt, at the top of my list of things a homeowner can do to increase the home value is to update the kitchen. It is the heart of the home and often the first place potential buyers want to see. Updated cabinetry, lighting, flooring, faucets, counter-tops, adding/increasing a pantry, and stainless steel appliances all can turn a drab kitchen into a fab one. If the kitchen looks clean and updated, you can expect a good return on investment. Even minor updates such as refinishing cabinet doors, changing out handles/fixtures, and putting in a backsplash can make a good impression and potentially increase value.

Another smart way to update your home to potentially increase its value is to add an attic bedroom. While this can be an expensive upgrade, and needs to be weighed carefully to ensure the home is not over-improved beyond comparable homes in the neighborhood, this feature can really make a difference for buyers who are looking for more space. With blended families, teenagers, and many older parents moving in for care, more square footage is always appreciated. Consider it an added bonus if a half-bath accompanies the new living space.

The third way to increase your home value is the easiest to take care. It’s simply to perform basic maintenance on the home. Keeping the siding, wood, brick, or stone in good shape and aesthetically pleasing, ensuring the roof does not leak, making sure all the plumbing works, ensuring the air/heat works as designed, and even taking the time to keep the curb appeal items (gutters, doors, porches, yard, trees/shrubs, walkways, driveways, etc.) looking good will go a long way towards netting a profit at the closing table.

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I need to preface my answer with I couple of thoughts:

First, different repairs to property can accomplish two separate objectives – helping the house sell for more, or helping it sell faster. Also, the question does not specify whether the improvements are intended to drive value for a refinance or for sale. Different repairs accomplish these different purposes.  Since the question does not specify the intent behind the improvement, I am going to focus the answer on improving the sale price.

  1. Add square footage and amenities

Comparative Market method of valuing SFR focuses first and foremost on square footage and amenities within a micro-market.  Therefore, in order to understand which improvements to make, you must study the marketplace to understand what value people assign to different amenities.

For example, if your house is 3-bedroom, 1-bath, and you find out that in your neighborhood houses just like yours but with 2 baths sell for $10,000 more (meaning that a 2nd bath is worth $10k), then you have the option to increase the resale value of your home by $10,000 via adding a bathroom.

Obviously, the idea is not so much to increase the sale tag, but to increase the profit on the sale.  Thereby, you must figure out if adding a bath will cost under $10,000, which would put money in your pocket.

The same rationale applies to additional bedrooms, 3 season rooms, garage, etc.

  1. Improve Kitchen and Baths

This topic is covered excessively online, so I don’t need to do it here, but nothing says “NEW” like nice new kitchens and baths.

  1. Landscaping

This is perhaps the most important thing.  You home might be the Taj Mahal on the inside, but if you can’t get people to come inside, then they will never know.  Landscaping is crucial!

And a final thought for you.  Sometimes – no repair is the right thing to do. Study your marketplace to understand what value people assign for which attributes of a home.  It may very well be that all your home needs is a good cleaning, and that spending money on repairs will not yield additional positive results…

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How long does it take you to form an opinion of someone you just met?

Studies show that you will make form that opinion in the first seven seconds. In life we judge and assess at lightning speed and once we make that decision it’s hard to quickly change it. Buyers work at a similar speed when viewing prospective new homes: They instantly determine whether the home is worth it to them.

If a prospective buyer gets that warm, fuzzy feeling in the first few moments of viewing a home, often it becomes the lens through which they see the entire home. The home has an emotional connection with the buyer and we all know that people buy homes with emotion.  Even if the home needs some work, if the home immediately communicates that if the work is done, it will be well worth it, then the right buyer walks through commenting how beautiful everything could look with a little elbow grease.

If, on the other hand, a home immediately communicates that it is in disrepair, the buyer is provoked to thinking, “This home needs a lot of work.” Even if the home doesn’t need that much work to make it beautiful, you wouldn’t be able to convince the buyer in a million years.  Lacking that emotional feel,  the buyers walk through the house and instead of enjoying it, they are overwhelmed at every corner about how much work needs to be done. They don’t see the house, all they see is the work. So, after the showing, instead of thinking this a beautiful home, buyers think, “this home is a money pit.”

So, for sellers looking to limit the home improvement budget for their house sale, my first suggestion is always spend a little money to increase the house’s emotional appeal to the buyer in the first several seconds. Such improvements sometimes don’t cost much and could be along the lines of:

  1. Painting the first room the buyer sees, even if that is the only room you paint.
  2. Sanding hardwood floors or removing carpet and sanding hardwoods.
  4. Staging so that the buyer sees how nice it looks. A few interesting pieces of furniture act as synergy to the homes natural appeal.
  5. Painting additional rooms. Nothing improves emotional appeal like new paint. Just stay with neutral colors.

In addition to showing the house’s potential in that first few seconds, it’s always critically important to spend money removing any visible deal killer that might come up in the first few seconds. Things such as active leaks, broken items, etc. should be immediately addressed, not because they add value, but because they kill deals.

As an agent who has been involved in an incredible diversity of sales, it has been my experience that sellers often hugely underestimate the value of presenting their home in the best possible light. They concentrate on the cost of doing anything rather than the value they get from doing it.  They often mistakenly project the rationale for their conservative cost saving approach as a benefit. They resist something as simple as painting saying, “the buyer might want a different color.” They repeat this on every suggested improvement. Note that this is not a mistake professional investors and developers make. These folks inevitably get the most for their properties and their properties always look fabulous. Coincidence?  I think not!

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There are many items than can make a much more positive appearance and will therefore increase the value of a home.   If you are trying to sell it, you have to go with the easy and most visible first.   And also some of the cheapest solutions have the most bang for the buck.

Get rid of any clutter.  Far too often there is too much clutter.  It may very well look OK to the person who lives there, but for the new buyer, it makes a place look too small.

Clean, clean, clean.  No one wants to look at a place they think might have vermin and who knows what.  Hire a professional cleaner to do a 100% thorough job.  Empty out the refrigerator and only have the bare minimum store din it.  Do not have leftovers from two weeks ago.  Clean any bugs out of the light fixtures.  Wipe down walls and doors where dirt accumulates with high traffic.  Clean switch covers, door knobs and hand rails.  Shampoo carpets to get any smells out.

Fix the obvious.  Make sure all light bulbs are working.  No one wants to go into a room and not be able to turn on the light.  Replace broken or non-color matched switch plates and outlet covers.  Replace any outlets that are cracked.  Fasten loose trim boards; replace any broken doors and windows.  Tighten loose towel bars, faucet handles and door knobs.  Fix or replace any screens.

After you have completed the basic items to bring your home to a respectable look, you can start to make improvements.  Paint is the most basic.  Use good quality paint on the ceilings and walls.  Be sure to fill in any holes in the walls and sand them smooth if the existing wall is smooth.  You do not want to have a wall that looks like a bunch of patches.  Painting the exterior paintable surfaces will also clean up the look from the outside.

Bathrooms are easy to remodel.  Assuming you have cleaned the tub, if it does not sparkle, hire a person to paint it.  You can have a tub painted for $500 and it will look like a new one.  Tile the bathroom floor, if it is not tiled already.  For the cost of about 50 square feet of tile, it will look like it was worth quite a bit more.  Be sure to swap out the toilet if you do not have a low water usage toilet.  Make sure you have a modern looking vanity, light bar and medicine cabinet.  You cannot go wrong with oak.

Kitchens are another improvement.  Painting kitchen cabinets sometimes is a cheap way to make them look great.  You can also buy ready to Assemble (RTA) cabinets to replace your existing cabinets.  RTA cabinets are cheap, and easy to assemble and install.  Expect to pay two or three times more for an equivalent box cabinet at a home improvement store.

Follow up these improvements with a decent laminate floor in your main high-traffic areas.  Entry ways, kitchens, hallways can all benefit from long lasting laminate flooring.  Laminate is inexpensive to purchase, and a breeze to install yourself.

To summarize.  Clean and de-clutter.  Freshen up any paint and fix anything that needs to be repaired.   Star with the bathroom and work to the kitchen.

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Fresh Paint

Updated Kitchen

Updated Baths

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Prospective  buyers want it clean and neat. To sell retail, pretty much anything over $100,000 has new carpet and tile in the kitchen and bathrooms, some hardwoods if necessary depending upon neighborhood and price point.

Upgrade Kitchen:

Granite or hard surface counter tops are preferred.

Appliances – new. Not a tremendous expense, but a lot of bang for the buck. How expensive depends upon price point of house, but new owners want new. Stainless steel is still the most popular for most price points in most areas.

Upgrade Bathrooms:

New toilets and bath fixtures make a huge difference. Lighting is very inexpensive and tile floors are pretty much a must. There’s typically not much floor in a bathroom, so tile won’t cost a lot but will make a big difference in the way the bathroom looks and feels. If you don’t want/need to replace the tub, resurfacing is a great option. Get it done right, however. The kits sold at home improvement stores don’t last long and are not worth the time and effort.

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This is a hard question to answer, because every house is different and will benefit from different improvements.  As a general guideline on a house that is in basically decent shape these are my top three improvements.

  1. New interior paint
  2. New floor coverings
  3. New fixtures: lights, handles and faucets

For a house that needs a lot of work here are the top three.

  1. New kitchen; cabinets, counters and appliances
  2. New bathrooms; vanities, mirrors, fixtures
  3. Basic systems; heating, plumbing, electric

The cheapest improvements

  1. Replace outlet covers and switches
  2. Trim and prune the landscaping
  3. Add hardware to the cabinets

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There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to home improvements that can increase the value of the home. A lot depends on the current state of the home. But a rule of thumb is to make sure that the basic maintenance side of the home is well taken care of.

Fresh coat of paint

A fresh coat of paint creates the feeling of freshness in a home. If there is one improvement that can cause the home to have an overnight transformation, a fresh coat of paint it is. It will create a good first impression when prospective buyers set foot into the property for the first time.

Waterproofing work

Carry out waterproofing work to prevent/resolve leaks or water damage. Any signs of watermark or leaks will send prospective buyers heading for the door.

Send in the handyman

Have the handyman check through your home and fix up any loose wires or faulty power sockets. Carry out touch up work (tile re-grouting, replacing laminate etc) and make sure everything is working well. This impresses upon prospective buyers that the property is well taken care of.

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Most professionals would say the 3 best ways to add value to your home is by investing in the kitchen, bathroom and curb appeal – but doing each right can make a significant difference.  Don’t just go for the “show stopper” of a kitchen, but instead design it with practicality in mind.  Having the right amount of storage space, a decent sized countertop and good lighting is where I focus my budget.

The same goes for bathrooms! I try to avoid “pedestal style” sinks as they don’t offer very much storage.  If your bathroom can’t fit a pantry closet for towels and such, I try to add shelving over the toilet. With today’s increasing prices, potential buyers want to see every potential square foot maximized!

Investing in a homes curb appeal helps to hit the first impression off right! It’s easy to lose track of budget and spend a small fortune updating a homes front facade… but I find a simple and affordable option is replacing the front door.  A bold and modern look can really leave a lasting impression in the minds of buyers!

Cosmetics aside, investing in the homes “bones” is also a smart place to park your money.  From updating electrical to new windows – one should never underestimate the returns from these improvements!

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Creating and increasing value in your home is possible through something as simple as updating the wall colors in your home, and creative lighting both inside your home such as under cabinet lighting to outside lighting surrounding your landscaping, trees, and exterior of your home.  Updates don’t have to be expensive, it’s about perception and feel when you walk into a great space you want to be in.

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  1. Kitchen
  2. Bathrooms
  3. Flooring

Generally speaking the major contracting jobs that required the most time and are most inconvenient tend to be the improvements that pay off the most. This includes major kitchen and bath remodels as well as flooring upgrades (especially in Manhattan). All the other quicker/faster upgrades tend to have a lower payoff of the expense when the property is sold.

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The two main things that sell any house are the kitchens and baths, so putting your money into these two rooms will give you the biggest bang for your buck, but these are high ticket items.

For mid range upgrades, buyers love hardwood floors now so that is always money well spent.

If someone needs to give the home a face lift without spending a ton of money I would recommend that they change out the hardware on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, add new door knobs and upgrade the light fixtures as their budget allows.

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The most noticeable home improvements include repaint the place, polish the flooring and upgrade the kitchen and toilet.  Give the place a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors. The next thing is polishing the floor in every room while touching up all cracks on the floor. Lastly, people are generally attracted by a new kitchen or toilet. Changing the wall and floor tiles, replacing the cabinet doors and getting new accessories will do the trick.

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There are many improvement projects that increase the value of a home, but homeowners must be careful as there are projects that can actually decrease the value!  Here are the best 3 projects that a homeowner can do to ensure an increase in the value of their home!

Adding legal square footage

Adding square footage to a home is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to increase a homes value.  A very common way of doing so is finishing either an attic or a basement.  One important thing to note, is there must be a form of egress in order to have this living space be legal.  In basements it’s common to see an egress window or walkout installed.

Bathroom Remodel/Improvement

One thing to keep in mind when doing a bathroom or kitchen remodel is the amount of money that is being spent.  It’s important to not go overboard and spend tens of thousands of dollars on remodeling a bathroom.  Simple things such as switching light fixtures, vanities, and tub enclosures are all great ways to boost value while not breaking the bank!  It’s not recommended to spend more than 5% of the homes value on a remodel.

Kitchen Remodel/Improvement

Just like the bathroom remodel, a kitchen remodel is a great way to boost the value of a home, however, it’s suggested not to spend more than 10% of the homes value on the remodel.  Kitchens and baths are usually the main selling point in a home.  One important thing to consider when doing a kitchen remodel is the amount of time that the homeowner is planning on staying in the home.  If only a couple years, installing granite counters and high-end cabinets may not be the best idea.

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The rule of thumb when renovating is for every $1 spent you want to be getting $3 back. Below are the 3 top things we look at renovating first to achieve this goal.

Paint – Completing an interior and exterior paint will add the most perceived value to any renovation due to the visuality. You will also get the best bang for your buck as the supplies needed are quite cheap and there aren’t many things that can go wrong.

Kitchen – An updated kitchen is also key to adding value when renovating. Most homeowners tend to inspect the kitchen first as soon as they walk into the property. If your not looking at completing a full blown kitchen remodel, a new countertop and sink, with polished or new handles will significantly enhance the kitchens appearance. Depending on the condition you can also look at applying a coat of semi-gloss paint on all cupboards.

Bathroom – Last but not least is the bathroom. Due to the cost of most bathroom utilities you will find many homeowners willing to pay extra $$$ for a bright, clean and efficient bathroom. A good way of renovating is to install only floor and skirting tiles while at the same time installing wall tiles within the shower frame. Another great feature to add is a flat wide mirror above the vanity and a modern light fixture above the mirror.

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When it comes to getting the maximum value for your home I’m sure you’ve heard all the typical responses such as improve the flooring, a new paint job etc. That is all well and good, but in my opinion the three best ways to improve home value all revolve around increasing the amount of marketing exposure your home receives. The three main ways that this is accomplished is by using professional photography and HD video tours of your home, creating your properties own personal website, and showcasing your home on the major realtor search sites. Remember buying a home is an emotional experience, so let’s help buyers appeal to it. Needless to say showcasing your property in this manner would greatly benefit from professional staging, high quality furniture and complimentary lighting. Although these are not direct improvements to your home, they will drive more traffic, more offers and therefore bid up the price so you can sell for top dollar.

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  1. Paint it! Painting a home is relatively inexpensive and it’s a surefire way to make the interior and exterior look clean and updated.
  1. Replace old appliances. I look at listings ever day and there is a huge emphasis placed on the quality of appliances in a home, especially in the kitchen. If you can’t do a total kitchen rehab, a shiny new dishwasher, stove and microwave can make the space look a whole lot more modern. Not to mention new appliances are far more energy-efficient than those of the past.
  1. Fix the lighting. Lots of homes are poorly lit and fluorescent abounds. Good, warm lighting can make any home look glamourous and much more appealing to a potential buyer.

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