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Homes in North Carolina are appreciating at historically normal rates, but not every home is “normal.” And for home sellers, it always pays to be better than normal.
If you’re planning to put your home on the market this season—or you’re just planning ahead—there’s one sure-fire way to ensure your home is above average. A range of simple home improvements can add value to your home, now and in the long run.
Which upgrades you may need to complete are obviously dependent on the current condition of your home and the budget you want to spend. However, this list can help you focus your efforts for the greatest return. Here are ten simple home improvements that add value to your home (and four you might as well skip).
Start Outside for a Great First Impression
The first part of your home people see is the outside, so if you’re selling, it makes sense to focus your early efforts here. Many of the purely aesthetic upgrades to the outside of your home and yard are affordable and can be done by you. If you’re just moving in, you may want to focus on your living spaces first, but don’t neglect the outside in the long run.
Get your lawn under control! Shape hedges, remove overgrowth, and consider adding or replacing with low-maintenance plants. Native plants are adapted to the soil and climate conditions of the region, which means they’re less fussy with the changes in seasons. If you’re able to think long term, consider adding shade trees, which look nice and will also cut home cooling costs considerably once they mature. Overall, investing in landscaping offers a great return in value.
2. Curb Appeal
In addition to the lawn and landscaping, curb appeal includes any hardscaping you have, along with outdoor features and decorations. Avoid a busy or cluttered look by mixing the heights of your elements, and focus attention on a clean and clear path from the street to the front door. At the door, make sure the entrance space looks clean and open, and offers some shelter from bad weather. And don’t forget the lighting! Adding outdoor lighting is a great way to make your home look more safe and inviting—perfect for welcoming guests or buyers!
3. Clean it Up
The term “shabby chic” shouldn’t apply to the exterior of your home. Make sure the roof is in good shape. Replace bad siding or broken brickwork. Give the exterior a thorough power wash—you’ll be surprised how much difference that will make! And consider a new coat of paint. If that feels like too much work, start with something small. Just sweeping the front porch free of pollen and cobwebs can make a huge difference! Wipe around the door frame and shutters. And don’t forget to show a little love to your mailbox, too.
Make Basic Changes Inside for Quick Effect
Don’t wait until you’re ready to move out to make your home feel vibrant and fresh! You deserve to reap the benefits of the home improvements that make your home a joy to live in. Best of all, you don’t have to go overboard to improve your home’s function and value. Even a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Focusing on the quality of your living spaces is key.
4. Upgrade the Kitchen and Bathroom
Nearly every professional out there will tell you to start your upgrades in the kitchen. However you don’t need to drop $20K to add value to your home. (In fact, you probably shouldn’t!) The same holds true for the bathroom, the second most expensive room to renovate. For as little as a few hundred bucks, you can improve the value of your home by several percentage points. New fixtures and lighting are a great place to start. Also, repair any small but noticeable issues, like leaky faucets or broken tiles.
5. Walls and Ceilings
A new coat of paint is a great, cost-effective way to freshen up any room. Even just touching up molding and window frames can make a big difference. But don’t just focus on vertical spaces. Your ceilings deserve some attention, too. Give them a fresh coat of paint or varnish, depending on the ceiling type. If you don’t mind getting a little messy, do away with popcorn ceilings! (Note that some older ceilings may contain asbestos. If you’re not sure, have yours tested by professionals before doing any demo.)
6. Open up Space
Despite recent changes to home life, open floor plans are still very popular in our area. So regardless of your existing floor plan, do what you can to make your home feel more open. If you have a half wall that doesn’t add storage and isn’t load bearing, consider removing it to open up space. Does your home feel too cramped? Adding mirrors can make existing spaces look larger, and replacing heavy drapes with good quality blinds or shutters can bring in more natural light.
7. Go Green!
Going green can be more simple and cost effective than investing in solar panels (though, that’s a good option, too). Did you know that many local utility companies offer free audits for their customers? Find out where your home could be more energy efficient and focus efforts there. Upgrade old fixtures like ceiling fans, replace light bulbs, and check your insulation. Replace or repair your garage door if you notice significant heat loss there. Lastly, consider investing in smart technology, like automatic thermostats, that can reduce your home’s energy usage.
For Even More Help, Call a Professional
For some of the larger home improvement jobs mentioned above, you can always call in the help of professional landscapers, plumbers, painters, or electricians. But those aren’t the only professionals who can help you create a better home. If you look around your house and you’re not sure where to start your improvements, a professional can help with that, too.
8. Professional Cleaners and Organizers
Tidying up can feel like a lot of work. Homes on the market are often homes still in use. It’s best for your home to look tidy and open, and professional organizers can help. Enlist them to help you prepare your home for sale, create a moving checklist, or simply make you feel comfortable in your own space. Professional cleaners can also help your home feel—and smell—cleaner than ever. Their equipment can get out deep stains and get to all the nooks and crannies your Swiffer cannot. Plus, a home free of pet odors can actually sell for more money.
9. Real Estate Professionals
If you’re on a budget but want to make some aesthetic changes before your home is listed, a real estate professional can help guide your efforts. He or she can let you know which features buyers are most interested in and how to prioritize your time. Plus, experienced agents often have relationships with many of the area’s top service professionals. Whether you need to replace your roof or your septic, they can suggest a contact for that.
10. Home Inspectors
If you’ve recently purchased your home, you know how it performed in an up-to-date inspection. But if you’ve lived there for years, it helps to have a fresh one done, even if you’re not planning to sell anytime soon. Home inspectors can spot issues before they become full-blown problems, which can help you prioritize large-scale upgrades like roof repairs or updating old electrical systems. Plus, they can remind you of all the “problems” you’ve just gotten used to, anything from a door bolt that doesn’t fit properly to a stain on your ceiling.
Home Improvements to Avoid
It may be tempting to make certain aesthetic investments to your home because you think it will help it sell. But if it doesn’t add value to the house, you could be throwing money down the drain. Save yourself the time and the money. Avoid these home improvement temptations:
1. Permanently Converting Rooms
You might think that your spare bedroom would look great as a study. But don’t rip out the closet to put in built-in bookshelves just yet. Or, wouldn’t it be cool to put a firehouse pole in the middle of the living room? Maybe not, bro. Consider how future owners may want to use the space. If you make any changes, make sure they could be easily undone by the next owners. Sometimes, unconventional home features make it difficult to sell a home quickly—or at all.
2. Wall-to-Wall Carpets
The same principle to permanent changes applies to your floors. When selling your house, don’t change the floors just for the sake of changing them. If you have hardwood floors, even if they aren’t in the best shape, don’t waste money covering them with carpet. Or worse, with linoleum! Most home buyers right now want hardwood floors or something equivalent. If you prefer a softer feel on your feet, consider investing in area rugs that can be easily moved or cleaned.
3. Overdoing the Upgrades
Putting in fancy lighting because it looks nice. Painting the dining room deep red, just because. Putting in a swimming pool. Rehabbing your garage into a man cave. These are great things to do if you’ve just moved in and these changes improve your experience with the property. But if you’re moving out, save your money. Instead, point out the potential for the space and let the new buyer decide.
4. Going against the House Type
Not all upgrades are created equal. Italian marble countertops are beautiful. But if you add them to a true 1930s bungalow, they’re going to be out of place. Farmhouse design is trendy, but in the wrong designer’s hands, shabby chic just looks shabby. Make your house the best it can be, but keep your upgrades true to its style.
Begin Your Home Improvements Today!
Does this list of home improvements make you more confident about listing your home on the market? Do you have a better understanding of how to focus your time, energy, and budget? We hope so! Making sure your home is in optimal showing condition will set it apart from your competition. And in many cases, it’s the difference between a timely sale or a long, drawn-out process.
All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about buying a home in NC, our experts at EXP Realty are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a EXP agent about buying homes or land in North Carolina.