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5 Thrifty Ways to Improve the Value of Your Home

May 29, 2012 12:07PM ● By Erin Frisch

Home Improvement

Buying a home is one of the largest investments that any of us will ever make, so it’s important to maintain the value of your asset. By making one or two small improvements each year, you can easily keep your property in great shape. Putting money into your home, whether you are selling or not, is a good way to boost its value and make it a more comfortable place for you and your family—and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Check out these inexpensive ways to improve your home’s value. You’ll not only improve it for your own use now, you’ll be putting a little more money in your pocket should you decide to put it on the market.

1. Improve your curb appeal. That first impression is crucial to potential buyers. The outside of the house is the first thing people notice, and a freshly mowed lawn, swept walkway, and some well-placed flowers and shrubs can go a long way. Clear away weeds and debris, remove any stray toys, and ensure that outdoor lighting and sprinkler heads are in good working condition. If you don’t have a green thumb yourself, consider hiring a landscaper. Keep expenses and maintenance low by choosing drought-resistant shrubs and plants that thrive in your area and perennials that won’t require repeat purchases in years to come. If you decide to sell, a beautiful, well-kept yard will score points with buyers.

2. Paint. An easy and inexpensive way to give a room a fresh feel, this is an improvement most homeowners can tackle on their own. Walls get bumped and scuffed by furniture, kids, pets, and everyday wear and tear. Fill and sand any cracks or holes where artwork or photos were hung before painting. If you are planning on selling in the near future, choose neutral colors—not everyone appreciates bright color combinations. In addition, don’t forget to give the baseboards, trims, and moldings a new coat of paint. Painting the walls without doing the trim can leave a room looking unfinished and worn.

3. Update your kitchen. Install energy-efficient appliances (some even offer rebates through your utility provider and may provide energy savings within the first year). Major appliance stores have big sales a couple of times a year, so be on the lookout for a good deal. For a few hundred dollars, you can also replace your faucet with an updated model, add new cabinet door handles and drawer pulls, and update lighting fixtures to brighter, more energy-efficient models. Do what you can comfortably afford. If you can’t replace appliances, ensure that they are sparkling clean and working properly. Resurface or repaint cabinets and repair damaged countertops or flooring.

4. Update light fixtures, switches, and outlets. Replacing outdated fixtures with more modern, energy-efficient ones is a fast way to update your home. Add lamps or wall sconces to rooms that are dark. Home Depot and similar stores often have fixtures for between $30 and $50. Swap out ceiling-mounted light fixtures for eye-catching chandeliers. If you have a light and ceiling fan combo, consider replacing the fan blades to update the look of the fixture. Another way to get lots of bang for your buck is to update switches, switch plates, outlets, and outlet covers. Be sure to enlist an electrician if you are not comfortable wiring your new additions yourself.

5. Declutter and clean. Space can be one of the top selling points for a home. Go through each room and sort through the contents. Donate what you no longer use or need and declutter in the process. Pay special attention to garages, kids’ rooms, and basements—rooms that tend to accumulate unneeded items. Declutter closets and consider adding organizers to increase space and make organizing them a breeze. Decorative shelves and tables should have few items on them, and floors should be clear of toys, shoes, and other things. To add value to your home inexpensively, consider purchasing new window treatments, towels, rugs, and bedding. Cleaning is a thrifty, often overlooked way to increase the perceived value of your home. Make sure beds are made, laundry is put away, dishes are not left on counters or in the sink, and that bathrooms, windows, carpets, furniture, and closets are cleaned and tidied.

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