How to Increase Your Home Value … On a Budget

Posted by: Jessica Gopalakrishnan on March 13th, 2010

Written by Marcy Tate

Learning about how to increase your home’s value on a budget isn’t rocket science. However, if you aren’t aware of some of the basic tips and insider tricks, then you can make costly home improvements that won’t add up to value-added improvements.

istock_000010528981xsmallThe expression, “don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely doesn’t apply to houses. First impressions are extremely important; driving up to a home with an old, broken-down car in the driveway or out-of-control shrubbery can easily turn potential buyers away.

The rule of thumb for increasing your home’s value is to spend money on things a buyer can see.

For example, unless you are planning on living in your home for more than a decade, don’t install a new tankless water heater. This type of upgrade will take several years to see a return on and cost several thousands of dollars to install. Instead, focus on items such as a new garage door, landscaping or a new stainless steel kitchen sink.

Avoid the common mistake of over-improving. Consider what is the norm in your neighborhood. Do you live in a high-end neighborhood? Are home seekers looking for high-end appliances in homes in your area? Don’t bother installing fancy features in your home if it’s not what’s going on in the house next door. It won’t help increase the value enough to make it worth it.

Fix up the Exterior First, Then the Interior

Curb appeal matters and fixing up the exterior will instantly increase your curb appeal and your home’s value.

1. Clear up Clutter – Unnecessary objects around your yard should be removed. A downed gutter or downspout, old bikes, recycling bins and trash cans should all be arranged nicely in your back yard.

2. Landscaping – Spend time pruning your hedges, trees and shrubs. Low-maintenance landscaping can add real value. Lay down some mulch, plant a few native plants or hang some flower baskets on your porch. These budgeted landscaping ideas will save you money now and add value when you sell.

3. Roof Cleaning – Have your roof cleaned by a professional roof cleaning service. Unsightly algae can decrease your home’s value.

4. Garage Door – A garage door can account for up to 30% of the visible exterior portion of your home. An attractive yet standard garage door can typically be purchased for under $1,000.

5. Fix It – If you have missing siding boards or loose gutters, spend a few dollars to have them secured back where they belong.

6. Front Door and Storm Door – Replace, repair or paint the front door.

Bathrooms and Kitchens: The Kings of Return

Nothing pays off more than updates to your kitchen and bathrooms. If you can’t afford to renovate, update and refresh instead. Replacing an old countertop, repainting cupboards and walls or installing new door pulls can add value to your home.

Kitchen and bathroom lighting is equally important. Consider installing under-the-cabinet lighting and energy- efficient fixtures. Home seekers favor these types of lighting fixtures and they can be purchased and installed for a modest price.

Small changes can update your bathroom without breaking your budget. You can remove old wallpaper and replace a worn vanity for under $500 in an average-sized bathroom.

Additional Interior Updates:

1. Lighting – Bright rooms indicate to home seekers that you have nothing to hide. A brightly lit home creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

2. Small Appliances – A new microwave can help give your kitchen a fresh look.

3. Carpet Removal or Cleaning – Many older homes have beautiful hardwood floors underneath the carpet. If your carpet is worn and stained, remove it and refinish the natural wood underneath. This type of project involves a bit more in upfront costs, but the return will be seen upon selling. If your carpets were recently updated, have them professionally cleaned to help them look their best.

Bottom Line: Use Common Sense

Put yourself in the shoes of prospective homebuyers. What would you like to see when walking through a home? Consider the cost vs. benefit before you make any improvements, and always remember:  Spend your money on things a buyer can see.


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Marcy is a home improvement blogger at Networx. For over a decade, she has been working with landscapers on ways to increase curb appeal and home value.



22 Comments on “How to Increase Your Home Value … On a Budget”

Robert Worthington

Marcy great advice. I am actually instructing a client removing all carpeting and refinishing the hardwood floors underneath. The listing needs a pick me up and this should do the trick!

Staged Marin Homes

Great article. I love it when a client is willing to put a little investment into their home before putting it on the market. I have changed out carpet and done a fresh coat of paint, along with front landscaping in under a week for homes that I am staging. The difference is huge!

Marcy Tate

Thanks. It’s really true; these small improvements make big differences. The best is to start by working with what you have- like mentioned- checking under the carpet for wood floors, trimming bushes vs. planting new ones. The value increase is so worth it.

Courtney Adams

Great Article. Here’s a pretty funny blog post that puts light on housing foreclosures: 13 ‘Houses’ Guaranteed to Never Foreclose

Take a look, it’s pretty funny!


Marcy, would fixing cracked sewer pipes be considered internal or external repair?

Sarasota Real Estate

How about replacing the carpet all together? It is relatively inexpensive and it can be installed in a day. It is the easiest and quickest “remodel” you can do and buyers like the “new home smell” It works a charm

K Sanders

Pretty good article. My biggie is bathrooms. I don’t know how anyone gets by without two bathrooms but I’ve seen a lot of houses lately that have only one and owner’s are asking high prices.

Phoenix Short Sale

Really nice article with informative & useful information


Marcy Tate

Sarasota Real Estate, You are so right about the “new home smell.” Just like a fresh coat of paint, new carpet can do the trick.

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As a potential buyer, I would rather see the floor without a carpet because carpeting makes me wanna wonder whats underneath…sometimes carpeting is just being used to hide something really bad underneath…

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Thanks for these suggestions. They are very cost-effective. A satisfactory appearance and comfortable additions should do the trick. I think lighting is very important since bad light can make a home look dull while good light can provide that cozy and homey atmosphere.

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You are right Marcy. General renovation is not necessary if you can do something good in basic way. Repair everything that has usage instead of replacing. You can be creative with your old stuffs and at the same time it won’t cost you at all.

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When I was recently looking for homes my wife checked out cosmetic things and looked for signs of neglect like mold growing in caulking between tiles and on windows and i checked out the expensive things to repair like air conditioners, heaters, electrical and plumbing, along with the roof and siding. We rejected almost all homes because of some sort of problem. Not all repairs should be the things buyers see. Some people actually do “open the hood” and poke around.


Go article, I am in remodeling, and curb appeal means a lot as far attracting buyers.New sod infront is cheap or spruce up desert landscape can be helpful.


Thanks for the great post. Good advice! I always thinking fixing up your home is a love hate thing. It can be extremely rewarding, but it can be a second job too. This was a great post though.

I stumbled upon this blog like I did yours. Thought it’s humor on home fixing might be enjoyable:

Thanks for the post! I’d love to see more like it.


Nice article! I did not notice anything concerning fencing…would you advise a client or homeowner to clean and repair or just replace any unsigthly wood privacy fence?

Marcy Tate

Hi Zach- To answer your question, I would say that it depends upon the condition of the fence. If you are interested in keeping it very budgeted, and the fence isn’t too damaged, then a fresh coat or stain or paint will work well.

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Absolutely stunning! Definite inspiration…
thanks for sharing. The images on your blog always inspire me.

Jayze Cordy

I agree with Mercy, it depends upon the condition of the fence. information and tip of advice on the post are very helpful. The exterior should be fix first after the interior.

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home remodeling

these are definitely some great tips on improving the look of your home at a low cost when trying to sell it

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really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.


Thanks for sharing this blogs. Improvements make a difference! right now, I am freaking out where to get extra money for home improvement. The past earthquakes created lots of cracks on the walls.

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