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How to make improvements that add value to your home

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By AJ Smith/

Homeowners can sometimes talk themselves into spending money on their house by assuring themselves it will add value at resale time. However, it turns out that there are many improvements that do not add the value you may be banking on.

To ensure you stick to projects that successfully increase your home's value, check out these tips and get inspired.

​Little investment, big reward


The best improvements are the ones that pay off big time with little capital and effort. The difference may not always be that obvious to you, but adding luxury attractions does not usually boost value as much as functional changes. In general, the more personal a home improvement is, the smaller the chance it will make a substantial difference in resale value. It's a good idea to look for solutions that everyone can use, like improving the kitchen or bathroom vs. adding a man cave. Remember, the actual cost and payback for each project depends on real estate market values in your area, as well as your home's overall condition.

​Appliance upgrade

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From the kitchen and bathroom to the laundry room, energy efficiency and updated appliances seem to be more important than ever to potential buyers. If something doesn't match or looks old, you may be able to just add new doors or face panels. But if something is truly old and inefficient, you might want to consider purchasing a newer model. Adding new hardware can be a great way to spruce up these rooms if you can't afford all new things. You don't need to make things too fancy (this can sometimes even work against you), but remodeling a kitchen and keeping up-to-date on appliances can really pay off because these spaces are generally the real heart of a home.

​New rooms on the cheap

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Adding a bedroom can add tens of thousands of dollars in value to your home. The difference between a bedroom and any other type of den, living room, or office is simple: A closet. Adding a closet to any room with a door can turn it into a bedroom just like that. You will just need to put up some framework and add drywall, which can often be done for less than $2,000. A local real estate agent can advise you on any other local regulations or specs you're required to meet to be able to add the extra bedroom to an official listing.

You might want to consider finishing your attic or basement to make it livable space because homebuyers are often on the lookout for versatile spaces. Reinventing your existing space can be much more efficient and effective even than adding square footage. If your home only has one bathroom, you might also consider turning underutilized areas into another bathroom.

​Paint & packaging


The least expensive and most cost-effective value booster for your home will likely be painting it. A fresh coat of neutral colors inside and out will brighten your house and make everything look more attractive. Curb appeal is important, so you also might consider investing in some low-maintenance landscaping like shrubs and colorful plants that are native to your region and so require less maintenance.

When someone is getting ready to shell out a lump sum as a down payment to buy a new home, they are generally looking to get the best bang for their buck. Do your best to discern between improvements that are worthwhile and those that just won't help you sell, but don't forget that you can always call in an expert who knows the conditions in your local market to help you decide. It's a good idea not to let TV shows and your personal desires or unique needs guide your home improvement decisions if your goals are solely improving resale value and recouping your remodeling costs.

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