Fast & Cheap Ways To Add Value To Your House

Get it sold for maximum $$$
BY: MARSHA MELLOW

Whether you just bought a house or you’ve lived there for a while, the fastest way to increase your home's value is by making a rational plan, not an emotional one. You will fare better if upgrades are made intentionally and not on impulse. Home improvement projects cost about 20 to 25 cents on the dollar. The other 75 to 80 cents spent go directly back into the home through increased value.

Start slowly. It's a marathon, not a sprint. If your home is new, get to know it. If you have already been there a while, get started. List the things you want to change and the updates you would like to make. Don't worry about organization, just write it all down. Take a guess on how long you may want to live in the house. If you're planning on selling, talk to your professional Realtor and let them help with a rational selling plan.

Take the list and categorize by how much it may cost, including your time and money. Be realistic. It's OK to list an outdoor pool with a waterfall, but keep your financial picture in mind. Once you have a categorized list, take a look and prioritize what is a real "must have" and what is more of a dream. (That pool comes to mind). See if you can come away with a reasonable balance.

Once you have made a plan, do research or talk to a Realtor to see what sort of return those improvements may bring. Some improvements will add considerably more value to your home than others. Make a list of all the things you dream about doing, break your list down into categories based on cost and write down how much time each project may take. What this does is help you get results. If you only have a day or a weekend, choose a project that fits within your timeframe, comfort level and financial commitment.

If you set out to paint a living room wall on Saturday and you know what it will cost in time and money, it gets done. By the end of the day, you have a stylish upgrade that will add value to your home. By strategizing, you will see your dreams take shape as you transform each room before moving on to the next. Don’t tackle the whole house at once, that’s a sure way to get intimidated and poop out on the project entirely.

Are you torn between improving your home's decor, versus making upgrades you know will increase your home's resale value? Many homeowners are surprised to hear that doing a little bit of both will actually pay off.

Start by making two lists — upgrades for your home value and upgrades just for you. Upgrades for your home may consist of replacing old faucets, permanent lighting and doors. Upgrades for you are furniture, artwork and window treatments. Gone is the dartboard approach to picking projects and wondering if what you are doing is really making a difference. With this plan, you will see real progress.

If your house is on the market, a bright and sparkly home can attract buyers like a magnet. A house can never be too clean. If you were a buyer, would you choose the house that is slightly dingy or the home down the street that is clean and welcoming? Remember, de-cluttering is a form of cleaning. Just as dirt builds up, so does clutter. Don't waste money moving your junk around. Get rid of it now. When it's time to sell you will feel confident about what you are presenting to the buyer.

Want a fresh perspective on the value of your home? Walk across the street, turn around and ask yourself, "Does my house have curb appeal?" Does my home look attractive, welcoming and structurally sound at first glance? Make a list of ways to enhance the positive and eliminate the negative. If you have a nice curvy walkway, accentuate it with flowers or lanterns. If the first thing a visitor sees is your big wide garage, try to guide their eyes into the beautiful front yard, or paint your front door red to guide the eye there. These things add value. Talk to your neighbors because curb appeal doesn't stop at your property line. Your home will be more valuable if you live in a place where everyone pays attention to appearance. When you're looking at your curb appeal, don't forget the side and rear views. Buyers walk around and peek over fences.

Take a digital photo and look at your home in black and white. When the color is removed, the truth comes out. That is where you see the cracks in the walls and the glaring flaws.

Ask any real estate expert what the number one upgrade with the greatest return is, and the answer will be the kitchen.  You can do a low cost mini-remodel by changing the paint. It sounds simple, but it works. You can also paint a faux-wood finish onto your cabinets. You can really class up a kitchen with this, if it’s done right. Add a splash of color with a new backsplash. New tile is attractive. Home improvement stores teach classes on this, but of course our Home Depot here does not help with that. Or much else.

Go stainless steel. The cold feel of steel is a hot ticket item for buyers these days. Transition your appliances as they wear out and go with a similar metallic look in your light switches. Make your kitchen rock with a rolling island. Hang a pot rack with fresh new pots, pans and a hanging wine bottle holder. A rolling island looks updated and you can take some of these things with you to your new home.

Of all the rooms in your house, the bathroom is the workhorse. There is lots of wear and tear, so you want to keep it functioning well and make good looking upgrades along the way. Focus on your faucet. Bathrooms are not just utilitarian anymore. People like to feel relaxed, like they are in a spa. Drop-sinks are old news, people want the under-mount sinks these days.

Go granite or marble with your countertops. If you are toying with the granite idea, your bathroom counter is most likely smaller than your kitchen counter and less expensive.

Make sure that around your mirror you have even lighting with no side shadows. Upgrade your bath area. With an 85 percent return, install a shower with body sprays and stone surround tile. If you are not selling right away, you will feel like you are in a Zen garden every time you step into your bathroom.

Keep it clean. Dirt and grime can become embedded in bathroom surfaces very quickly. Freshen it up with new grout.

Make it clean, Make it bright, and make smart use of your fixer up money.