Now that you’re older and it’s just you and your spouse, or just you; you may have been thinking about downsizing into a smaller home. But before you ask a real estate agent to come over and place a dollar value on your home, take the time to do a few easy do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Here are several of the best home improvement projects that real estate agents say yield the most return for your investment:
1. First impressions/curb appeal. An attractive door/entryway into your home really gives a good first impression to potential buyers. If your door color is dull, beat up looking, or dated by old aluminum storm doors, the jamb hasn’t been painted for a while, cement is cracked on the porch, a little investment of time and money can boost your asking price.
Paint the door an attractive, yet reasonable color that would appeal to many people, and either accents or matches the trim color of the house. You may even want to repaint shutters, if you have them. If the entrance way is dark, you might want to install a new light fixture above the doorway, or new modern lanterns on either side of the door. Adding new house numbers, a new mailbox can all add interest too.
2. Your kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home and one of the places that you’ll want to look inviting to new buyers. If you don’t have a big budget to completely update the kitchen, you can make some simple cosmetic updates that you can do yourself. A new backsplash can be installed in a weekend with 1” tiles-on-mesh from your local home improvement store.
You can also use paintable wallpaper that comes in designs that look like tin ceiling tiles, or botanical motifs, or any number of other designs. Easy to install, you can then paint them with water-resistant acrylic paints that makes them easy to wipe clean. Think modern paints like metallic, or neutral stone colors that blend with your cabinets. You can even use floor tiles as a backsplash as well – get creative, and ask your home improvement salesperson how to install.
Cabinets are very easy to update with paint as long as they’re in good shape. Painting old dark wood cabinets a bright white really opens up and modernizes a dated 50’s-60’s kitchen. It’s not hard to do, just requires a little time. Get a good cabinet paint like “Cabinet Coat” that’s especially made for re-doing kitchen cabinets.
Stick to light neutral colors like white, off white, to open up the room. Change the fixtures on them to modern looking stainless steel pulls and it will look like you bought all new cabinets. Install new updated light fixtures to bring more light into the kitchen. Remove old dated curtains at the windows and replace with blinds.
3. Window treatments. Throughout your home, keep them simple and modern. Remove old dated, grungy curtains/drapes that hang to the floor and replace with 2” wood or white blinds, or mini blinds. This opens up the room and gives a more modern, open feel to it.
4. Bathrooms. Like kitchens, if your bathrooms have old dated tile and wallpaper and colors (pink, light blue, lime green), a little time and $$ here can also work wonders to update it. Paint is the easiest update to make to replace old pastel colors of the 50’s-60’s with modern neutral light to medium stone colors and accents.
If your tiles are this color as well, and you have enough money to tear out old tile and replace with new modern tile/colors, this can make a big improvement. If your budget is very small, you can paint old pastel tiles to blend with the colors of your walls as well. You simply prime the tiles with a good primer then paint your desired color and seal with an acrylic polyurethane, a few coats. This creates a washable seal and also protects the paint.
There are also companies who will re-do your bathtub and surround with paint that can give a whole new look to your bathroom. Or, if you’re particularly handy, you may want to create a walk-in shower in place of the tub. Installing new light fixtures can also update and brighten the bathroom considerably. Get rid of any old curtain treatments and install blinds, or new window design adhesives that roll on and peel off when you want to remove them.
5. Lighting. One of the things that turn off prospective buyers is a sense of darkness or moodiness in your home created by lack of light. For not much money, you can update light fixtures throughout your home to create more light and a more inviting cheeriness.
6. Wall colors. Spending a little $$ on paint to update your living room, or bedrooms, to give them more general appeal to a wider group of people will add more value and help you sell your house quickly. Lighter, neutral colors, with maybe 1 darker accent wall, work best for the majority of people. Think modern earth colors like beige-gray-brown colors. Stay away from greens though.
7. Shrubs, flowers. When spring rolls around, make sure your shrubs are inviting and fit the scale of your home. Trim back any overgrown shrubs, trees, and plant flowers, if you don’t already have them, particularly around the door and walkway to your home. This offers an inviting, warm ambiance that buyers want when looking for a new home.