Home Improvements

Surprisingly Simple Home Improvements That Add the Most Value

June 27, 2018

Darren MelstadBy Darren Melstad
Mortgage Loan Originator

When it comes to home improvement projects, it's not easy choosing which renovations to green-light and which ones to scrap (especially if you plan on selling your house soon). So, we asked an expert Sioux Falls Realtor about which home upgrades she usually recommends to homeowners. 

And we quickly discovered that all home improvements are not created equal.

 “Some updates don’t necessarily increase the value, even though they might cause a home to sell quicker and show better,” says Joan Cota, a Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Professionals, Inc. 

Home improvement projects like a new roof, driveway, air conditioner, furnace — these are types of expensive renovations you might be surprised to hear don’t really move the price needle. Rather, they're just considered normal, wear-and-tear maintenance of a home.

“Sellers shouldn’t always expect a dollar-for-dollar return on these kind of updates," Cota says.

Don't throw in the hammer just yet, though! Because when it comes to low-cost upgrades that will increase the value of your home, Cota has plenty of suggestions:

Quick Home Improvements That Add the Most Value

Do you plan on selling your home in the near future — or even in the next few years? Here is a list of low-cost home improvement projects that could provide an immediate return on investment:

1. Give Your Kitchen and Bathroom a ‘Facelift’.

Remodeling a bathroom or a kitchen is one of the most profitable home improvements you can make.

But you don’t have to gut the rooms down to the studs to reap the biggest benefits. In fact, experts say you should only consider a complete kitchen or bath overhaul if you plan to live in your house long enough to reap the rewards.

"A homeowner doesn’t always need to do a complete remodel, but maybe just change the vanity or vanity top, hang a new mirror and light fixture, or install new flooring," Cota says.

This type of “surface facelift” can make a big difference when it comes time to sell — and it doesn't cost a whole lot! For example, Do you have a green or blue bathtub that's a few decades old? You don’t necessarily need a new one. Consider instead calling a re-surfacing expert to re-coat the existing tub.

2. Update Your Fixtures & Ceiling Fans.

When it comes to making a quick, affordable and user-friendly home upgrade, Cota can shed some light on one of your best options.

"Lighting is a minor upgrade that will create an impact and make a home show better," she says.

Many gold fixtures from the 80's and 90's can date your house. For a few hundred dollars, switching everything to a brushed nickel or rubbed bronze finish can be a more affordable upgrade that makes your house look more current.

3. Remember: Curb Appeal Counts.

Walk across the street, turn around and look at your home. If you find yourself feeling a bit underwhelmed by your "curb appeal," you won’t be the only one.

"People usually drive by your house before they decide they want to schedule a showing," Cota says. "If it doesn't look nice from the outside, they're going to assume the same thing about the inside."

Not only that, some specific types of home loans (like FHA or VA loans) will prohibit the borrower from buying a house with chipped paint or peeling siding in the first place.  So when it comes to booking a showing — a fresh coat of paint, some landscaping elbow grease or a new front door can make a world of difference.

4. Clean And De-clutter Everything.

Some of the best things in life are free — including one of the most important home upgrades: cleaning your house! In fact, Cota calls this the most important thing you can do. And there's not really a cost involved — just labor.

Staging your home involves more than the traditional vacuuming, dusting and scrubbing. You should also make a point to “de-clutter” —  which means opening up walkways and taking down family photos (which can lead a buyer to feel like they’re invading your space).

"Clear off the countertops, remove excess items, clear out closets so they look bigger — things like that," Cota says. 

For more cleaning tips to help you sell your home, refer to this guide from the American Cleaning Institute.

5. You Might Not Have to Replace Your Carpet, But You Should Clean It.

It’s no secret that new carpet can give a room new life.  But sometimes, “fresh and clean” can do as much as new.

Before replacing a carpet altogether, see about getting it professionally cleaned. You can also hire a pro to come in and "re-stretch" your carpet so it's not lumpy and loose anymore. Of course, if all else fails, it might be time to replace the carpet. And if you do, Cota says, make sure you get a neutral color.

6. Tear Those Old Curtains Down.

New windows have plenty of aesthetic and energy saving benefits, but they’re also expensive. Luckily, there’s a way to add value to your current windows by taking away something else: your dated curtains.

Sometimes simpler is better, Cota says. If you have nice wood trim and new shades, you might not need anything else. You should also replace any cracked window glass or torn screens.

7. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

Nearly every expert agrees, a fresh coat of paint still reigns supreme as one of the easiest and cheapest ways to refresh a room (especially if you do it yourself).

"Fresh paint in a home, wherever it is needed, is an inexpensive way to make a house look clean," Cota says.

It can also make a great first impression. Just be sure to pick neutral colors and stay away from the outlandish shades.

For more Expensive Renovations, consider a Home Equity Loan.

If you're planning a more expensive home improvement project to enjoy for the next few years without selling, consider using a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) from Security National Bank of South Dakota to fund it.

Want to Learn More?

Still unsure of what home renovations to pursue? Your banker or Real Estate Agent can help you determine if the cost will justify the improvements you want to make.

So, if you’re considering home renovations or putting your home on the market, reach out to a Realtor or contact us at SNB of South Dakota today!

About the Author

Darren Melstad

Darren Melstad is a Mortgage Loan Originator with Security National Bank of South Dakota. A lifelong South Dakota native (he grew up just down the road in Vermillion), Darren helps customers with residential home loans and business development in the Sioux Falls area.