home improvement

5 small home improvements with big payoffs

You’ve watched more home renovation shows than you can count, but you’re still not sure how to boost you house’s value without doing a large-scale renovation. If you’re working with a tight budget, the process can become even more challenging and overwhelming. Follow our experts’ advice and tackle these five small home improvements, which can lead to a big payoff through a heftier sale price for your house.

1. Ditch the wallpaper.

Does your daisy-patterned wallpaper give you a brighter outlook on life? By all means, keep it up while you’re still living there. Just get rid of it as soon as you start showing your house to prospective buyers.

“Removing your taste-specific wallpaper will add value to your home,” said home stager Jill Hosking-Cartland, owner of Hosking Interiors.

Just how much of a difference can it make? She said leaving wallpaper up usually decreases an offer by three to five times the cost of having it removed.

2. Go neutral.

Even if the crimson color in your kitchen gets tons of compliments, it won’t appeal to as many homebuyers as beige or light grey paint will.

Wherever possible, add a fresh coat of neutral-color paint in the rooms of your home. Even if you can’t repaint all your interiors, using neutral paint colors in one or two of the major rooms (like the living room and the dining room) can go a long way toward making it easy for homebuyers to picture themselves in your house.

3. Cover up outdated features.

If you don’t have the money to replace an outdated feature, turn to a simple coat of paint to refresh it.

A good target for these easy updates is interior wood trim. “Unless your home qualifies as ‘historic,’ is a log home or has been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, painting dated wood trim will always add value,” Hosking-Cartland said.

The same goes for updating an old bath vanity, which she said could involve buying a new vanity, hiring someone to install it and bringing in a plumber to reconnect the water lines.

“If your vanity cabinet is solid, with doors and drawers functioning well, paint can be the budget-friendly answer to updating it and [adding] value,” Hosking-Cartland said.

4. Spruce up the exterior.

Curb appeal is a big deal for potential homebuyers, said Cannon Christian, president of San Diego-based real estate brokerage and renovation company Renovation Realty. Although a full exterior paint job can get pricey, there are other options for giving your home a facelift.

“Power-wash your home’s exterior, driveway and sidewalk, which will give potential buyers a distraction-free impression of your home,” Christian said.

Christian also recommended these small but beneficial touches that can brighten up your home’s exterior and boost its value:

  • Colorful flowers.
  • Ground lighting.
  • New front door knob or handle.
  • Bright, newly mounted address numbers.
  • Newly painted exterior window trim.

5. Give your front door a makeover.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, one of the least expensive remodeling projects is also the one that delivers the highest percentage of recouped value. When homeowners replaced their existing front doors with 20-gauge steel doors they recouped an average of 96.6 percent of the cost. To give you an idea of how good that is, the next highest percentage of cost recouped for a project came in at 87.4 percent.

If a complete door replacement isn’t in the budget, painting your door is a more cost-effective way to make it look cleaner, newer and more cohesive with your exterior design.

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