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Primary residences make up a quarter of all assets held by households in America, and continue to be the biggest asset for homeowners.
Whether you intend to build equity or get top dollar when you sell, repairs and smart improvements can protect your asset and even increase home value.
Home offices, and more space, for example, are now essential features that can help your house sell even faster and perhaps, for more than the asking price.
The fall season is a great time to renovate. It will help to know which upgrades can increase home value as you plan your next project. Let’s look at some of the most valuable home improvements.
Improve the aesthetics of your home
Improving the aesthetics of your home is one way you can increase its value through renovation. First impressions matter in life and even more in real estate.
Does curb appeal increase home value? Yes, curb appeal entices buyers even before they set foot in your home and can account for as much as 7% of its sales price. For starters, mow your lawn and wash your windows.
If your yard seems dull compared to your neighbors, consider planting flowers. Adding fresh paint and power washing the sidewalk, driveway, patio, or deck to remove debris will always help as well.
Yard care is one of the cheapest ways to increase home value. Basic yard care, such as mowing the lawn, fertilizing, and controlling weeds, costs about $340 on average, and can yield a lot of money on your resale.
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Increase energy efficiency
Projects that lower utility bills and are energy efficient are a smart way to increase the value of any house.
Installing solar panels, improving insulation, and a smart thermostat, for example, help improve efficiency and save money.
Such investments in home tech provide a strong selling point and highlight the home’s overall functionality, comfort, and energy efficiency.
Other ways to increase your home value through improved efficiency include:
- Replacing old, leaky windows
- Installing energy-efficient appliances
- Adding insulation to your home
Improve the functionality of the home
When it comes to enhancing existing spaces, focus on the kitchen and bathroom. An outdated kitchen or bathroom can keep a property from reaching its highest valuation.
If your budget only allows for one large project, you can’t go wrong with a kitchen renovation. Even a minor kitchen remodel recoups 81% of its cost in added value.
An upscale kitchen remodeled with stone countertops, custom cabinets, and commercial-grade appliances can recoup 53% of costs.
New appliances can also improve your kitchen’s overall flow and functionality.
Consider these small additions:
- New kitchen faucet
- Pot filler
- Task lighting
- Toe-kick drawers
In the bathroom, consider the following:
- Update and replace the shower head, vanity, and toilets
- Try open shelving or other decorative storage options
- Improve lighting such as with top lights, task lighting, and wall sconces
- Make the most of the space you have if you can’t expand
Open layouts are back
With homeowners spending more time at home, they need space to work while also enjoying family time and entertainment. Knocking out the right wall to create a spacious layout will put your house on many home buyers’ wish lists.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that 85% of buyers want an open layout between the kitchen and dining room; 79% favor an open arrangement between the family room and the kitchen, and 70% like an open layout between the family room and the dining room.
If you’re not sure how to improve your current layout, try working with a designer, whether that be a local contractor or through big-box stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Buyers need space
Home buyers have always valued ample space, still, they have expressed a desire for even more in the last year.
Out of 3,247 homebuyers surveyed by NAHB in 2021, about 8% wanted more space than the size of their current homes.
Specifically, 46% of respondents wanted three bedrooms, 37% wanted two bathrooms, and 42% preferred a two-car garage.
In 2022, NAHB also found that the percentage of single-family homes with a patio rose to 63%, reflecting an increased desire for usable outdoor and indoor space.
If you have the funds in your budget, adding a bathroom, a great room, or another needed space can increase function and add value to your home.
Building a deck or finishing a basement is a wonderful way to add functional square footage to your home. Even a finished basement needs attention from time to time to make it function as part of the home.
How to pay for home improvements
Keep your expectations grounded in reality when considering how to increase home value. Renovations rarely recoup their entire cost, but they can make your family happier and even help your home sell faster and for a higher price.
Financing home improvements doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s look at some of the best ways to fund your renovations.
The most secure financial option for paying for home renovations is to set aside savings for the project. If you plan to fund the entire project through savings, it may be a good idea to start small and take on less expensive projects first.
Can you pay for home improvements on a credit card? Technically, yes. But this could be a potentially dangerous financial move when you consider interest rates and your timeline for paying off the balance.
If you don’t have enough equity for a home equity loan or HELOC, you could consider a personal loan. However, in most cases, the interest rate will be higher than that of home equity financing.
Home equity loan or line of credit
Home equity loans and lines of credit are secured loans that are backed by your home. With a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you can take what you need when you need it (up to your borrowing limit). And in a home equity loan, you’ll get the difference between your home’s current value and what you still owe on the mortgage in a lump sum payment.
With both options, however, your home is the collateral. So if you miss payments or default on the loans, you’ll risk losing the home.
Cash-out refinances are popular for a reason and they could be your key to paying for renovations. This refinance option may be a good fit if you want to tap equity but don’t want to take out a second mortgage.
A cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage with a new, larger loan and a new interest rate. That’s especially helpful if your credit has improved since you qualified for your original mortgage.
You’ll then be paid the difference between the two amounts in cash. For example, if you purchased your home for $200,000 and you’ve since paid $50,000 back on the mortgage, your loan balance is $150,000. The estimate you’ve been given for renovations is $15,000.
Using the equity you’ve already built in your home, your new mortgage loan will be for $165,000 (what you owe plus the cash you need for renovations). That $15,000 you need is given to you as cash and you’ll continue to pay one monthly payment on your home for the new loan amount.
These extra funds are a perfect way to make home improvements because there’s no requirements for what you can use the money for.
Home.com can help to improve your home and increase value
Do you lack the modern features and amenities you need to balance work, family, and relaxation? Maybe you’re interested in cooking outside your home in a new outdoor kitchen. Or it’s time to add a patio or home office.
Renovations not only allow you to enjoy new features but they add value to your home if you’re thinking of selling or refinancing in the future.
Photo by Scott Webb