Now that it's spring, have you been thinking about undertaking a home improvement project? If you're concerned with making upgrades that will pay off when it's time to sell, consider these tips. (For more advice, check out 4 Types Of Home Renovation: Which Ones Boost Value?)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Cover the Basics First
One thing potential buyers don't want to face is expensive repairs. If your home's basic structures and systems aren't in good condition, the property will be considered a fixer-upper and its market price will be discounted accordingly.

The roof, furnace, air conditioning, plumbing, water heater, electrical system and windows are all basic elements of your home that must be in good working order for your home to be attractive to buyers and command top dollar. If any of these components are broken or malfunctioning, make sure to fix them. If any of them are nearing the ends of their useful lives and you can afford to replace them, do so before your home goes on the market.

After that, you can address the next level of basics. Make sure your property has curb appeal by:

  • Power washing the home's exterior, driveway and sidewalks
  • Cleaning the windows
  • Mowing and edging the lawn
  • Pulling weeds
  • Pruning hedges and other decorative plants
  • Adding some new plants, even in pots, to make your property look vibrant and inviting

(For more actions you can do to increase your home value, see Do-It-Yourself Projects To Boost Home Value.)

Now that you've drawn prospective purchasers out of their cars, make sure your home's entryway is appealing both outside and inside. If your front door is ugly or damaged, replace it. At a minimum, you should clean and/or paint your existing door. Also tend to all the details surrounding the door.

  • Sweep the porch
  • Get rid of the cobwebs
  • Replace the entry mat
  • Clean or replace the doorbell and light fixtures
  • Add potted plants and flowers

Match the inviting exterior entryway with an inviting interior entryway. There should be absolutely no clutter when potential buyers step into the home, and the entryway should be defined as a distinct space. If you don't have a formal entryway, you can create a defined space with the right furnishings, like a rug, a framed mirror and a console table.

Clutter and Cleanliness
Speaking of clutter, one of the best "improvements" you can make to improve the resale value of your home is to put away your stuff. If you have lots of stuff, you may need to put some of it in storage. Buyers should get the impression that your home is spacious and will easily hold all of their furniture and other belongings. You also don't want your junk to distract from your home's unique features and selling points, nor do you want to have personal items around that make it more difficult for buyers to picture their new lives in your old space.

Don't hide everything in the closets, either - buyers will be investigating those areas, so they should also look spacious and organized. A good scrubbing can really improve your home's overall appearance as well. Before you replace anything, see if you can revive what you already have. (For more ideas, check out Top Tips For Successfully Renting Out Your Home.)

Little Upgrades with A Big Impact
Some minor replacements will produce big results for minimal cost. You know that no matter how clean your 30-year-old bathroom faucet is, it's still not going to be attractive. Replacing and coordinating hardware and fixtures won't cost much, but it will make a big difference. So will getting rid of any obviously dated finishes, like old wallpaper and brass light fixtures. If your furniture is ugly, old or worn out, consider buying inexpensive new furniture or renting furniture to make your home more appealing. These and other staging techniques can give your home that wow factor for relatively little expense and effort.

Substance Trumps Style
Remember when you first bought your house and you wanted to impress all your friends and family when they came to see it for the first time? That's the look you should be going for when improving your home and preparing it for showings.

It's okay if you can't afford glamorous improvements like a remodeled bathroom or kitchen. These projects are expensive and difficult, and there's no guarantee that they will pay off - especially in a down market. New buyers will be more inclined to spend money to renovate the inside of your home and personalize it to their tastes than to buy a new roof. If your home is fundamentally sound and immaculately presented, it can be seen as a solid purchase with potential.

Bottom Line
When you don't know when or even if you will be able to sell your home, choosing your home improvement projects carefully becomes extra important. Unless you live in an upscale neighborhood and your home is already immaculate, skip the fancy projects and focus on the fundamentals. (To learn more, read 6 Tips To Sell Your Home Faster)

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Home Depot: Can its Shares Continue Climbing?

    Home Depot has outperformed the market by a wide margin in the last 12 months. Is this sustainable?
  2. Savings

    These 10 Habits Will Help You Reach Financial Freedom

    Learn 10 key habits for achieving financial freedom, including smart budgeting, staying abreast of new tax deductions and the importance of proper maintenance.
  3. Credit & Loans

    Have Bad Credit? 6 Ways to a Personal Loan Anyway

    It'll cost you more, but borrowing is definitely doable. Here's how to proceed.
  4. Budgeting

    How Much Will it Cost to Become President In 2016?

    The 2016 race to the White House will largely be determined by who can spend the most money. Here is a look at how much it will cost to win the presidency.
  5. Retirement

    5 Reasons Retirees Are Upsizing Instead of Downsizing Their Homes

    Many retirees opt to downsize to save money, but there are many who are doing the opposite and upsizing.
  6. Budgeting

    Six Most Popular Hobbies You Can Do For Free

    Does your budget not allow you to have expensive hobbies? Here are six great ideas for occupying your free time without spending money.
  7. Home & Auto

    How Property Taxes Are Calculated

    Property taxes are calculated through use of the mill levy and the assessed property values.
  8. Home & Auto

    Is Making Biweekly Mortgage Payments A Good Idea?

    Some people believe making mortgage payments every two weeks, as opposed to once a month, can chop years off of a home loan. But is it really a good idea?
  9. Home & Auto

    Understanding Property Deeds

    A property deed is an instrument that enables sellers to convey real property to buyers, who become the new owners.
  10. Home & Auto

    5 Reasons Zillow's Estimates Could Be Wrong

    Zillow uses a variety of data to calculate its "Zestimates," but anything from the wrong property details to missing upgrades can make them inaccurate.
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I calculate how much home equity I have?

    Even though it is normally assumed most people know their home equity, many are still confused about the topic. It is an ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the typical requirements to qualify for closed end credit?

    Typical requirements for a consumer to qualify for closed-end credit include satisfactory income level and credit history, ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center