Top Ten Improvements to Increase Home Value

With home values decreasing recently, more than ever you want to be sure that any home improvements you make will help add value.

A long know fact in the real estate industry is that the smallest and least expensive home in a neighborhood typically gets a higher appraised value per square foot than the largest and most expensive home in the same neighborhood.

With housing prices soon to reach a bottom and begin increasing again (real estate typically moves in 7 to 10 year cycles), now is a great time to buy a classic fixer upper and add long term value by making the right improvements to your home!

But with so many potential home improvement projects, how do you know which investments to make?

Read on to learn the top ten ways to increase your home’s value.

1. Enhance the Curb Appeal

The simplest rule to follow when choosing home improvement projects is to consider what can be seen and work on those things first. Curb appeal is one of the primary determining factors for potential buyers. And while not a large factor in appraising home value, appearance is paramount in terms of sale price.

So how do you increase the curb appeal of your home? Start by reducing clutter, painting your home’s exterior and improving the landscaping; all things you can easily do yourself without investing a fortune!

2. Increase the Square Footage

The size and living space of a home is one of the primary factors in both appraised value as well as the resale price a home will fetch when listed for sale.

If you have an unfinished basement or other space in your home that can be converted into finished living space, start there. Finishing a basement or attic space is far less expensive than a room addition.

To determine whether a room addition is a good investment, you need to research the neighborhood a bit. You want to know the average size of the homes in your neighborhood; if yours falls well below the average, then a room addition could be a good investment. On the other hand, if you home is larger than most homes in your neighborhood, you may not recoup your investment in a room addition.

3. Update Bathrooms

If your home has out of date bathrooms, then updating them is likely to be a good investment to increase the resale value. Most buyers are attracted to a home with modern, spacious and up to date bathrooms.

4. Update the Kitchen

As with bathrooms, updating an older kitchen can often times increase the resale value of a home. You can cut costs by refinishing cabinets, installing new appliances, countertops and flooring and improving the lighting in your kitchen.

5. Increase Storage Space

Buyers today want plenty of room to store things, so anything you can do to increase the amount of space and functional storage capacity of your home will help add resale value and is often less expensive than major renovations, repairs or room addition projects.

6. Add a Garage

If your home does not have a garage, adding one can be another good investment to increase resale value; especially if you live in a northern location with a cold climate. For warmer climates, the return on investment may be less significant than other home improvement projects.

7. Replace the Roof and Other Major Components

If your home has an older roof, heating and air conditioning system, water heater or other major component that is either at or past its useful life, then you almost have no choice but to replace such components.

For one thing, not replacing major components will lead to other maintenance costs down the road. For instance, if you have a leaky roof, it will lead to dry rot and other costly problems.

Secondly, when you do go to sell your home, these things will either need to be done prior to the sale or will be deducted from the potential sale price as credits to the buyer.

8. Paint and Redecorate the Interior

Use neutral colors when repainting your home’s interiors; while it is tempting to use bright colors, remember that color is a very personal choice and the colors you like may not appeal to potential buyers.

If you do use bright wall paint in your home interior, be prepared to repaint with neutral colors prior to listing for resale.

9. Add Outdoor Living Space

As with adding a garage, the return on investment for adding outdoor living space such as a screened porch, deck or patio is largely dependent on geography

If you live in an area where people tend to spend a lot of time outdoors, then this can be a very good investment and is generally less costly than adding interior living space.

However, if the norm in your area, due to climate and weather conditions, is not conducive to spending a lot of time outdoors, then it may not make much sense to invest heavily in outdoor living space.

10. Replace Siding and/or Windows

If your home has outdated exterior siding or the siding is not typical of what most homes in the area use, then you might consider replacement. For instance, in the northwest, cedar siding is common, so a stucco or vinyl-sided home could benefit by replacement with cedar siding.

Window replacement can be another high-return investment. If your home has older windows that are made with wood or aluminum, then replacing them with modern vinyl windows will increase both the curb appeal and energy efficiency of your home.

Finally, you should always consider how long you expect to live in your home when making home improvement investment decisions. In the vast majority of cases, home improvement projects do not actually provide a positive, direct return on investment (ROI).

The enjoyment you derive from making improvements to your home is as important, if not more so, than the direct ROI you may get from such projects. Pride of ownership and living in a home you like are probably more important factors to consider than simply expecting you will get back more than you invest if and when you decide to resell your home!

Top Home Improvements to Increase Home Value


  • Paint your home’s exterior
  • Outdoor upgrades & landscaping
  • Install an awning
  • Front step revamp
  • Deck and patio restoration or installation
  • Screen in a porch


  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Small bathroom renovation
  • Style update
  • Glass block window installation
  • Replacing grout
  • Accent tile


  • Replace appliances
  • Cabinet door re-facing
  • Replace cabinets
  • Kitchen facelift
  • Vinyl tile or laminate flooring
  • Backsplash installation

Living & Family Areas:

  • Wainscoting, crown molding and trim
  • Hardwood flooring installation
  • Stone fireplace
  • Family room upgrade

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