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How To Increase The Value Of Your Home: What Helps and What Doesn’t

How To Increase The Value Of Your Home: What Helps and What Doesn’t

If you’re over 50, the chances are good that you own your home. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, homeownership tends to rise with age, with 76.2% of households age 50 and over, and 78.7% of households age 65 and over owning their homes.

Whether you’re looking to eventually sell your home or leave it to your family, you’ll want to keep it in tip-top shape, and even increase its value as much as possible.

From remodeling to adding square footage, to painting and adding curb appeal, there are ways to increase the value of your home. There are also some things you should avoid if you want to get a good return on your investment.

When preparing for this article, we visited with Brad Godden, a licensed Real Estate Broker with Glenda Williamson Realty here in Decatur, IL. He has some excellent insight and advice for anyone looking to add returnable value to their home.

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5 Ways to Add Value To Your Home

Godden tells us cosmetics, or the aesthetic appeal, is where you want to focus your energy when updating your home. He says the most significant return on your investment when remodeling is in your kitchen and bathrooms.

1. Fresh Paint

Adding a fresh coat of paint to every room in the house is the single most inexpensive way to update a home. 

When painting your interior, be sure to stay with neutral colors. You don’t have to use the same color throughout the entire house, but avoid bright or extra dark colors. Shades of gray or brown are timely and easy to decorate around.

Don’t forget to paint the ceilings and trim. A fresh paint job on these surfaces brightens up the room and will accentuate the newly painted walls. 

Interior house paint has come a long way in the past few years. Consumer Reports tells us the lighting and traffic of each room are two important things to consider when choosing the right paint. 

Photo credit: ConsumerReports.com

Choosing a paint that is too shiny can reflect too much light, and one that is too flat can make a room appear dull. The typical rule of thumb for choosing the correct sheen is:

  • Flat and Matte - ceilings, living rooms, and bedrooms
  • Eggshell and Satin - family rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways
  • Semi-gloss - trim, windows, and doors

Paint and hardware stores are happy to help you decide on the perfect color and sheen – be sure and ask for help before starting your painting project.

2. Updating Kitchens

The kitchen is considered the heart of the home, and rightfully so. It’s where we serve our meals, hold great conversations with family and friends, and gather – not just for special occasions, but every day. 

Your kitchen should be a comfortable, homey room that is consistent with the rest of the home. 

When updating your kitchen, pay attention to the cabinets, countertops, hardware, fixtures, and appliances. 

Unless there is something wrong with your cabinets, merely adding new doors and hardware can make old, outdated cabinets look modern. If the cabinet fronts and hardware are still in style, maybe a fresh coat of paint would do the trick. 

Redoing worn, dated countertops or installing new ones is also a great way to update an older kitchen. 

Installing new countertops can get expensive, depending on the material you choose, which is fine if that’s within your budget. Before you spend tons of money on granite or marble, you might want to look at ways to redo your existing counters. Janise with DIY Fun Ideas offers several ways to remodel your counters for only $30. It might be worth checking out!

Photo Credit: DIYFunIdeas.com

Replacing old fixtures and lighting adds a fresh look. A new faucet may be all you need to make the existing sink look up-to-date. The same goes for new light fixtures. Replacing a dated chandelier with a unique style is a quick update for a kitchen.

Another way to update your kitchen is to add energy-efficient appliances that not only save you money throughout the year but are attractants for potential buyers. It’s a win-win investment.

Adding ceramic tile flooring or redoing hardwood floors will put the finishing touches on your kitchen update. Both of these can add value to your home and are worth the investment.

3. Updating Bathrooms

Stepping back and looking critically at your bathroom – the room everyone uses – will give you a good idea of what needs attention. Maybe it’s a loose towel rod, cracked tile in the floor, or the broken mirror that you’ve become so used to that you don’t even notice anymore. 

Outdated bathrooms can decrease the value of a home. Similar to a kitchen remodel, updating cabinets, countertops, and hardware is an ideal way to bring your bathroom into the current times. Adding ceramic tile flooring, a new tub, and updated sink faucets are also significant bathroom upgrades.

Changing out your old toilet for a tall, water-saving model is a must when upgrading a bathroom. Tall toilets aren’t just for seniors; everyone will appreciate the comfort one of these has to offer.

You want the bathroom to be every bit as comfortable as the kitchen. Fresh paint, a new shower curtain, and new towels can do wonders.

4. Adding Square Footage

Adding more living space is a tricky update. Sometimes, adding space can be so costly the monetary return won’t be there, but not always. 

Finishing out a basement or attic can be a cost-effective way to add square footage to your home as opposed to constructing a new addition.

Godden says that depending on the materials you use, finishing a basement can increase the value of your home anywhere from $25 to $40 per square foot, which is a pretty good return on your investment.

5. Enhancing Your Home’s Curb Appeal

“First impressions are everything,” Godden says. The first thing anyone sees is the outside of your home, which will set the tone for what they expect when they walk through your doors.

A nicely mowed yard with simple landscaping such as shrubs, flowers, maybe some rock, and possibly a tree or two is all it takes to make a home look inviting. 

If you want to go further when updating the outside of your home, here are a few suggestions that can bring about a positive return on your investment.

  • Steel door: helps with energy efficiency and is low maintenance
  • Shutters: an easy way to add beauty to your windows
  • Garage door: paint or replace a worn or damaged door for an eye-pleasing upgrade
  • Potted plants: strategically placed potted plants will add warmth to your front porch or sidewalk
  • Mailbox: replacing an old or worn mailbox can make a house look new and well cared for
  • Address: add the address number to your house in a decorative manner to instill a sense of belonging to your home

It is important to remember that more is not always better when working on curb appeal. Comfortable and inviting is what you are after here.

Home Upgrades You Might Want To Avoid 

Some home upgrades are nice to have, but they will not give a high return on your money if you want to sell your home. Approaching these types of additions should be done with caution. 

  • Swimming pools
  • Elaborate landscaping
  • Whirlpool tubs
  • High-tech appliances
  • Adding a garage
  • Home office
  • Sunrooms

While these additions can be positive and add to pleasure in the home, don’t expect to get your money back when you prepare to sell.

Home Upgrades vs. Preventative Maintenance: How Does That Affect the Value of Your Home?

There are things some people consider upgrades that are part of preventative maintenance. Replacing roofs, HVAC systems, siding, painting the exterior of your home, and repairing broken windows and torn screens are some of the most prominent. 

Godden says these things will make your house more sellable, and some are necessary to pass inspections, but you will not be able to raise the price of your home because of them.

For example, if you recently paid $23,000 to have a new roof put on your home, you should not expect to add $23,000 to the selling price as a result. Having a functional roof on your home is expected, making it routine maintenance.

With that being said, your home will be worth more overall if you perform the needed routine maintenance and keep everything in good shape.

Is Increasing The Value Of Your Home Necessary?

“Home is a shelter from storms – all sorts of storms.” –William J. Bennett

Keeping your home in the best shape possible is a necessity. If that means performing upgrades, then the answer is yes – increasing the value of your home is necessary. 

Eventually, you will sell your home or leave it to someone you love. If you can make it more valuable while you own it, then why not?

In short, Brad Godden feels that the best ways to improve the value of your home are to update the kitchen and bathrooms, give everything a fresh coat of neutral paint, and make sure the outside has a charming, simple curb appeal. Easy enough!

If you are in the market for a realtor, give Brad Godden a call. He will be happy to help you with all your real estate needs.


Brad Godden is the Managing Broker at Glenda Williamson Realty located in Decatur, IL. Godden is a licensed Real Estate Broker and a member of the Decatur, Illinois and National Association of Realtors. He has sat on the Board of Directors, chair for the Public Relations Committee, member of RPAC, and the Grievance Committee. Godden takes great pride in his 3 children and 2 grandsons. You can reach Godden at 217-972-6174 or at brad@glendawilliamson.com.

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