If you're like most people, your home is the biggest financial investment you'll ever make. Even small improvements to your home can equal big returns later when you are ready to sell.
Here are a few easy and (mostly) inexpensive ways to increase your home's value and improve its marketability, whether you are looking to sell next week, next month or next year:
1. Bathroom. Remodeling is a great way to increase your home's value, but chances are you do not have the time or money to remodel every room of your home. If you are going to remodel only one room in your house, the outdated bathroom is a good choice. And if you can't completely remodel your bathroom, there are still small changes you can make on a small budget. Minor updates like getting new light fixtures, stripping old wallpaper and replacing your shower curtain can dramatically improve your bathroom's overall appeal.
2. Go for Green. Energy efficiency is one thing that will never go out of style. Younger buyers are increasingly attracted to homes that are environmentally friendly and all buyers are intrigued by the prospect of low home energy bills. There are many ways to increase your home's energy efficiency, including programmable thermostats and water-saving faucets.
If you aren't planning to move for a while, you may want to plant a few tall trees in your yard. The shade provided by trees can actually decrease your home's cooling costs by as much as 40% and can also help improve your home's overall curb appeal. If you are in more of a hurry to sell, you can instantly improve your home's energy efficiency by swapping your old windows for heat-trapping windows.
3. Kitchen. Right after your bathroom, your kitchen is the next most important room you can update. It is particularly important to make sure your cabinets look clean and polished, since they can strongly impact a buyer's perception of the entire room. If you have a larger budget, consider replacing old cabinets with new ones. And if you are working on a smaller budget, a fresh coat of paint on your cabinets can make a world of difference.
4. Landscape. You've probably heard it before, but the curb appeal of your home is hugely important. If new buyers notice that your yard has been ignored, they may assume there are other aspects of your home that have been neglected. This might cause them to lose confidence in the value of your home.
5. Lighten Up. Good lighting in your home can make a big difference. It is especially important to invest in bright lights for smaller rooms in your home; bright lighting can make small rooms look more spacious. If you want to avoid a higher energy bill, a sun tube (a hole in your ceiling that funnels in natural light) can be a great way to brighten up a room without adding to your home energy costs.