Sometimes, you buy your dream home. Other times, the home you buy—especially if you’re a first-time home owner—is a “good enough” home. When you buy a fixer-upper, you ideally buy one that you can live in, even if it’s not precisely what you’d want out of a home. But as you save money up to make home improvements, it can be hard to prioritize which improvements to make first. You want to make the house your own, but unless this is your forever home, you also want to make home upgrades that will improve your home’s property value over time. After all, if you can improve your home’s property value, you’re not spending money as much as you are investing money—and when funds are tight, the latter feels much more palatable.
So what improvements should you make first? Here are 5 of the most cost-effective home upgrades, likely to improve your home’s property value.
Increase Energy Efficiency
When you consider making home improvements that will improve your home’s value, you have to consider who you might be selling to. These days, you’re most likely to be selling either to baby boomers, who are looking to retire, settle down, and take care of grandchildren, or to millennials, who are looking for easy-to-care-for spaces that they can feel good about. In either case, increasing your home’s efficiency is key. Whether that means adding more insulation in the attic (a relatively cheap update) or installing solar panels into your roof (more expensive), creating a more energy efficient home will scream modernity to your future buyers. Even better, once you make the upgrade, you should find yourself saving money going forward, which means that this home upgrade puts money back in your pocket from day one.
Kitchens have long been key when it comes to what people are looking for in a home, and that hasn’t changed. You know it’s time to remodel your kitchen when it’s missing the amenities you’d be looking for in a new home. Stainless steel appliances are one of the safest options, guaranteed to make your home look new and fresh. Other desirable upgrades include granite countertops, hardwood floors, and upgraded—or at least freshly painted—cabinets.
Second only to the kitchen in terms of importance to your buyers, bathroom remodels can pack a big punch in terms of your home’s value, but only when done correctly. You never know if your buyers are going to want a tub or a shower, so your home should have both. But because the older generation won’t want to step over a tub to get into the shower, you should consider either having the two separate from each other or investing in a tub/shower with a water-sealed door on it so that anyone can enjoy it comfortably.
Flexible living spaces are key right now. People have more varied lives now than ever before. Some have extra-large families and want more bedrooms. Others need playrooms for their kids, offices where they can work from home, or in-law suites. Increasing your home’s usable square footage by finishing off a basement or attic space can make it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves using your home to its fullest extent.
Fresh and Clean
Some of the best upgrades you can make to your home are also the cheapest. Potential buyers want to walk into your home and have it feel fresh and clean. Believe it or not, you can often accomplish this with nothing more than a coat of paint and some upgraded light fixtures. Replacing or repainting damaged doors and upgrading floors can also make a world of difference.
Of course, giving people the fresh and clean vibe when they come into your home also requires keeping the home fresh and clean. Clean up spills as soon as they happen to prevent staining, and keep clutter to a minimum. That way, when you do decide to put your home on the market, there isn’t quite so much for you to do to get your house ready.
It can be hard to prioritize home upgrades, but with a little critical thinking, it’s possible to determine what would help your home out the most. Most important is the ability to separate yourself from your home when making upgrades. You want your home to feel like you, but if you’re putting money into it, you want that money to come back around. By concentrating your efforts on upgrading the things that matter to other people, not just the little things that matter to you, you’ll have a home that ends up being a great return on investment.