Hello! I hope that you are enjoying the warmer weather! With the spring selling season upon us, my volume of work has been very high. So, I am grateful for guest bloggers who provide me with some great articles to share with you. I hope you’ve been enjoying them.
I have one more this week. Welcome to Emily Miller, who wrote this piece for the Cleveland Appraisal Blog. Enjoy!
Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Value Without Spending a Fortune
Buying a property is not just about creating a home, it is making a long-term investment. Generally speaking, real estate is one of the most secure investments you can make, and bar any situations like the crash in 2008, you are pretty much guaranteed a constant increase in value and desirability. However, that also depends on a lot of other factors: location, other homes on the market, and the way you maintain it.
The moves you make can maintain the value of a property or they can send it through the roof. Some of these upgrades and additions require a significant investment, but others do not require spending a fortune, but they still yield a high return on investment.
What Home Appraisers Look For
Let’s talk about what home appraisers look for, in my experience. That’s going to give you an idea of what we take into consideration when determining the value of your home, and what you can work on.
Space is obviously extremely important. But there is not much you can do about your existing square footage, so we’re going to focus on utilizing and extending livable space. Do you have a garage? Does it house one or two vehicles? If you have room for two but are utilizing it poorly, I suggest changing that – it is a minimal expense that yields a big return.
The same goes for the inside of the home. How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? If you can “borrow” space from a huge bedroom to create an additional bathroom or adjoining bedroom, I would, but that’s one of the heftier investments to make.
The materials used in the construction and decoration of your home are also extremely important because they determine how structurally sound your property is, how it’s going to last over time, and how much maintenance it’s going to require. Again, there is not much you can do about construction materials.
But you can certainly make comparatively inexpensive upgrades to your windows, plastering, the state of the wood on your porch, the fencing on your property, the roof – anything that can be made more solid without breaking the bank is a sound choice, especially if you’re reinforcing the structure.
Signs of damage
Of course, one of the big things we look out for is damage – are your walls cracked? Is the floor not level? Why? Is there water damage around your windows? Are they cracked, rotting, or broken? Does your home have a smell? Are there signs of badly made repairs?
Any repairs that can be made without requiring an extensive renovation should be made, it’s a great move to ensure a higher value. Replace any missing or broken windowpanes, repaint cracked paint or replace the wallpaper, patch up any cracks, and treat your damp spots for mold. That does not cost a lot and it instantly “lifts” the appearance of your home. It also makes it more likely that appraisers and buyers overlook or do not notice previous damage.
If there is something I’ve learned, especially this year, it’s that outdoor space is critical for buyers and for the overall value of the house. We always keep an eye out for any sort of decking, patio, or porch. How big is it? Does it go all the way around? How’s the view? Can it be turned into a usable space? How old is the wood?
If you’ve got any sort of outdoor space, that’s a major advantage, so you want to make sure you put your best foot forward. Replace any of the wood that’s old and rotting, reinforce the structure, and give it a fresh coat of paint. It’s really inexpensive and you’d be surprised what a huge difference it can make to the way a home looks and feels.
What Buyers Look For
Now let’s talk about what buyers want, what they typically look for, and what they’re willing to pay extra for. If you can add at least one of these wish-list features, you’ve already got a leg up on the competition.
Time and time again, I hear young buyers talk about wanting a home with hardwood flooring. While installing these floors is still a smart investment, it’s an expensive one. But if you already have the floors, but they’re just looking worse for wear, then you can actually bring them back to life spending way less money.
Refinishing them is a much cheaper upgrade, but with all the return on investment. You end up with gorgeous, shiny floors that buyers will love and you’re not remortgaging the house to do it.
Value increase: 3%-5%
This past year, a home office was one of the top requirements home buyers had, and coincidentally, it’s one of the cheapest and easiest upgrades you can make to cater to them and increase the value of your home.
All you need is a guest bedroom that you can stage to turn it into a home office. Make sure you pick a space that’s quiet, away from high-traffic areas, that gets natural light. It doesn’t need to be huge, but it should be big enough to accommodate a desk and a chair, and possibly a bookcase or storage. That will show potential buyers the potential of the space.
Value increase: 10%
Another request that’s on the rise is smart tech. Not only are buyers searching for homes that incorporate smart tech, but they’re also willing to pay more for them. A simple investment in a smart home assistant like an Amazon Echo, high-speed fiber internet, or a smart doorbell can ensure that the value and desirability of your home shoots up and stays up.
Value increase: 2%
One of the most valuable upgrades you can give your home is to add bathrooms or at least extent existing bathrooms. They add a degree of comfort and convenience that buyers are happy to pay extra for, so it’s always a solid investment.
However, adding a bathroom to your floorplan is one of the pricier renovation projects you can undergo, so it may not be within everyone’s budget. But even a half bath or a bigger or remodeled master en-suite bathroom will add to the value of your home, even if they come at a fraction of the cost.
Value increase: 3%-6%
Curb Appeal Is Half The Battle
The exterior of your home is more important than you think, and it can be a major factor in determining the perceived value of your home – whether it’s established by a home appraiser or buyers. Here are some of the things to keep an eye out for and that you can inexpensively upgrade to increase value.
Spruce up the exterior
Old, aged, cracked, dusty paint and siding do not make a good impression on anyone, whether they’re appraisers or buyers. When you see an aging home, you tend to question what’s underneath the cracking paint, so that’s the first thing you want to tackle.
Give the outside of your home a good clean and then repaint the walls, the windows, and your doors, as well as the patio, fencing, and garage doors. That alone can give your home a brand new “face” and it costs next to nothing. You can also try to replace or paint the door a bright color to make it a focus point – people like contrasting doors.
Tend to the yard
But there is no use having a well-maintained exterior if the yard is in decay all around it. An abandoned, overgrown yard gives a terrible look to your home and it really accentuates its age and state of disrepair. An appraiser will not look kindly upon it. But if you spend a weekend on it, you’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make.
Clean up the walkway, mow the lawn, trim your hedges, plant some rose bushes, and fix and repaint the fence, and your home will instantly look newer, more well-cared for, and more expensive, even when you’ve only spent a few hundred giving it a face-lift.
It is often believed that in order to add value to your property, you must first make some pretty significant investments and major renovations. From open-plan homes, large pools, double garages, and major kitchen extensions, there are a lot of expensive ways to increase the value of your home. But they’re not entirely necessary.
It is entirely possible to increase its value by making some comparatively smaller and more inexpensive – but still essential! – changes. From cleaning to repairs and strategic remodels, you can get the most bang for your buck without spending a fortune to do it.
Emily, thank you so much for providing your insights on this topic. I appreciate you sharing your expertise!
As a real estate appraiser, I am not endorsing the value increase percentages noted in this article. Any increase in the value of specific improvements, is dependent upon the market, the location of the home and how market participants are reacting to these improvements. However, all of the things noted in Emily’s article do increase market appeal. And that can certainly translate into increases in value.
I am working on new posts of my own. So, stayed tuned. I will be back on track in a couple of weeks. I also have some new podcasts in the works for my show at Home Value Stories. I just aired one on home staging this week. If that is a topic that interests you, I hope you will check it out. You can also listen to it right here at the Cleveland Appraisal Blog.
Thanks so much for your being here! I appreciate you!
I’m going to leave you this week with a oldie but goodie by the Beach Boys. After all, home improvements are all about good vibrations.
This song reminds me of when I was a kid. My younger sisters and I built a small homemade stage in our back yard. Then we invited the neighbor kids over to watch me lip-sync Beach Boy songs. My singing career came to an abrupt stop while butchering the song Kokomo at a karaoke bar with my wife, friends and family watching. It was at that moment that I realized, my singing career wasn’t going to work out, so I became an appraiser… and podcaster. We’ll see how the latter works out.
Have a great weekend!
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, check my new podcast out. I hope you enjoy it! You can find me on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Play Music, Sound Cloud, Radio.com, RadioPublic, Deezer, Breaker, Stitcher as well as other feeds.
You can also listen right here at Cleveland Appraisal Blog!
If you are interested in stats, and nothing but the stats, for neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio, check out my other podcast. In it, I provide short episodes that provide you with stats on median sales prices, marketing times, housing inventory and other related stats, on specific neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio. You can find me on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play Music, Breaker, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public or you can listen right here at the Cleveland Appraisal Blog.
I am a member of the National Association of Appraisers. If you’re an appraiser, and you’re looking to join an appraisal organization, please check them out. The NAA is made up of fantastic appraisers from across the country who are working hard to keep their fellow appraisers up to date on what’s happening.
Here are some links to other articles I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…
Whole Lotta Housing? – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller
Mortgage rates are too low (and they need to go up) – Sacramento Appraisal Blog
Is Now a Good Time to Buy a House? 8 Reasons Why Buying a House In 2021 Is Harder Than Last Year – NextAdvisor, by Farnoosh Torabi
How Much Have Birmingham Home Prices Risen Since the Bottom of the Market? – Birmingham Appraisal Blog
Hello, State Appraisal Board! Here’s My Boilerplate! – Tim Andersen is The Appraiser’s Advocate (Podcast)
The UAD and Appraisers – Past, Present and Future – APPRAISAL TODAY
Does USPAP Condone Bias? – George Dell’s Analogue Blog
April Newsletter – All Time Low Supply Creating Bidding Wars – DW Slater Company