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New homeowners, especially first-timers, are excited, nervous and full of ideas about how they will make their new house a home. One thing they probably aren’t thinking about (unless they plan to flip the house) is how they can increase the re-sale value. But, even though that may not be their focus, it’s good for first-time new homeowners to know which home improvements have the best chance of increasing the value of their home. Here are the top five:
1. Update the Kitchen or Bath
A run-down, out-of-date kitchen or bathroom will turn off some home buyers. So, new homeowners who are willing to make the upgrades needed in a kitchen or bathroom will see those projects result in increased home value.
According to studies conducted by Realtor.com, stainless steel and granite are top sellers when it comes to features homebuyers are looking for. In fact, they say that homes with newer stainless steel appliances sell 15% faster than homes without. You just don’t find stainless steel and granite in an original 1970s kitchen.
But, according to Jimmy Dollman, principal of Dollman Construction, Inc. in Roanoke, Virginia, “There are structural implications related to installing granite or other countertop materials, especially on an island or peninsula.” He says most older homes require structural reinforcement to handle the weight of the heavier countertop material. He recommends consulting with an architect or engineer before installing new granite countertops.
If the budget doesn’t allow for a complete kitchen or bathroom remodel, these are the projects Dollman recommends:
- Refinish the cabinets
- Tile the backsplash
- Update the lighting
- Change hardware
- Install new plumbing fixtures
- Replace a mirror and towel bars in the bathroom
2. Increase Curb Appeal
If you’ve ever judged a book by its cover, then you understand that curb appeal is an important part of your home’s value. One of the most critical elements is the garage door. According to a 2018 study done by Remodeling magazine, a new garage door returns 98.3% on the investment. Can’t afford a new garage door? There are many ways to upgrade the one you already have.
In addition, Dollman recommends adding shutters. “Shutters are a great way to transform or renew the front of a home,” he says. He also suggests painting or replacing the front door, landscaping, and adding accent lighting.
3. Update Lighting Throughout the House
According to Dollman, “old and outdated light fixtures are on the short list of things that date your home.” He says a new homeowner can replace interior recessed lighting trim and bulbs with new LED retrofit kits. He also suggests keeping the light color consistent in each room.
If architectural salvage is your thing, though, he says to look for UL labels. If you find something you like in that second-hand shop but it doesn’t have a UL label, buy a reproduction or rewire the fixture.
4. Use the Right Paint Colors
Wherever you paint, it’s important to choose the right colors. In fact, certain paint colors, strategically placed, can up the value of your home. For instance, a Zillow study found that homes with doors painted charcoal-, smokey-, or jet-black can sell for more than $6,000 more than expected!
In addition to choosing the right colors, always be sure to take the time to prep your surfaces correctly.
5. Improve the Thermal Envelope
While not the most glamorous of home improvements, anything a new homeowner does to improve the thermal envelope, according to Dollman, “protects their asset and decreases energy consumption.” This would include window replacement, sealing penetrations in exterior walls (like those around pipes), adding insulation to the attic space and properly venting the attic. New homeowners will want to find out if there are tax incentives, and consult with their energy company to see if they offer any rebates, that are available for energy-saving home improvement projects.