How to Increase the Value of Your Home Inexpensively

Two Methods:Clean and Declutter Your HomeEasy Do-it-yourself Projects

Are you looking to increase the value of your home while staying within your budget? Full remodels, even for one room, can cost many thousands of dollars, and while the cost may be worth it if you’re planning on staying put, most remodelling projects increase your home’s value by at most 80 or 90 cents for every dollar you invest. If you’re looking to sell your home right away, or if you’re buying and selling a home for profit, you want to keep your improvements simple and cheap. Here’s how.

Method 1
Clean and Declutter Your Home

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    Do a basic cleaning. Nothing will give you a better return on your investment than a little elbow grease. A cleaner house will look more appealing to your realtor when he or she helps you set a price, as well as to the appraiser the bank sends out when you have an offer. Here are some ideas:
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    Get rid of clutter. Make your house look more spacious by eliminating junky or unnecessary items. Get rid of battered furniture, decaying knick-knacks and piles of paper - or, if you can't stand to part with anything, throw your stuff in a storage unit until after the house sells. Remember that it's better to show a somewhat barren house than one that's filled to the brim with clutter.
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    Do a deep clean. Once you have more room to work, undertake a thorough housecleaning. Not only should you do usual chores such as mopping or dusting, but focus on rarely-cleaned areas such as baseboards, grout and heating vents. Steam clean your carpets, and wash walls and windows. Wipe down the blinds, and remove any broken screens. Pressure-wash any siding on the outside of your house, as well as the sidewalks and driveways. If you don't have the time to undertake such a project, consider hiring a professional cleaning service. Many of them specialize in residential properties for lease or for sale.
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    Eliminate odors. A common saying among realtors is, "If you can smell it, you can't sell it." Sometimes, people can't detect how their house smells because their noses are so accustomed to it. If you think your home smells fabulous, have a trusted friend confirm or deny this as soon as they walk in the door. If you keep pets, thoroughly shampoo carpets and furniture, and wash all bedding - you're not selling the bedding or the furniture, but they're capable of smelling up the house just the same. If you smoke, do everything you would for pets in addition to washing (and possibly painting over) the walls and ceiling as well as you can.
    • When you know your realtor will be showing the house, try to make it smell good by baking something delicious beforehand (which you can put on the counter for your guests) or lighting a candle. If you don't have candles or time to bake, pour a few drops of vanilla on an empty cookie sheet and put it in the oven at 200-250F. It will make your house smell like warm cookies.

Method 2
Easy Do-it-yourself Projects

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    Spruce up the yard. Get rid of trash and yard waste. Keep your lawn in good condition and mow it. Trim the hedges, get rid of weeds, and mulch the flower beds. If you don't have much to work with, plant some flowers or buy small shrubs. Anything more than that is a waste of money.
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    Add a fresh coat of interior paint. Painting your walls can instantly brighten up your house and make it appear well cared for. First, patch up any holes, no matter how small. To get a silky smooth finish, apply a coat of primer. After the primer dries, lightly sand it with a fine grit sandpaper (220 grit). Apply the first coat of latex paint, and then lightly sand that layer also. Wipe the walls down with a damp cloth after each sanding session. Then, apply the final coat of latex paint.
    • Favor white ceilings and off-white or beige walls with white baseboards. Not only will these colors throw more light around the room and make it appear larger, they're easy for potential buyers to imagine over.
    • Choose an appropriate finish. Semi-gloss paint will make your walls seem brighter. If your walls have imperfections, such as dents in the drywall or cracks in the plaster, use eggshell finish paint to hide those imperfections. It is a low-lustre finish that can be lightly washed.
    • Upgrade the interior walls to a level 5 finish in order to give your rooms a "luxury" appearance. Simply use 60 grit sandpaper to lightly score the surface of the walls. Add two coats of joint treatment (USG Total or All Purpose works great), one after the other. On the second coat, sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper. This will give you a level 5 finish over any textured wall.
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    Put up fresh curtains and blinds. Blinds and curtains are relatively inexpensive. Over time, the sun fades the colors from your blinds and curtains, so new ones will make a better impression than old ones.
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    Install modern light switches and outlet covers. Some modern switches can be easily installed using the wires already running to the old switches. Just be sure to turn off the power to the room or entire house before doing any work. New outlet covers look nice, and give the impression that the electrical wiring in the house is newer than it really is. Dimmer switches are especially desirable.
    • Beware: It can be illegal to replace the outlets with the three-prong type while the wiring is for two prong (not grounded). This could lead to trouble if the buyer's home inspector catches on.
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    Up the wattage. In the main areas of the house, such as the living or dining room, swap out your lightbulbs for ones with slightly higher wattage. Just make sure you don't exceed the maximum specification for lamps and other lights. (You could use compact fluorescent light bulbs in order to make the room brighter without getting new fixtures, plus they save electricity, meaning they save you money.)
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    Check the square footage. Sometimes your home's square footage will be higher than what your county assessor has recorded. Because homes sell for hundreds of dollars per square foot, even a small increase will allow you to list your home for more money. If you have a tape measure and some graph paper, you can verify the square footage of your home by yourself. Measure the around the entire house, noting any abutments and including the porch and garage. Use one square of graph paper per foot. Then, divide the perimeter into smaller rectangles and triangles - for instance, a bay window might look like a rectangle with two acute triangles on each side. Measure the area of each piece, and add it up to get the square footage of your house. You can also hire a residential appraiser to evaluate the square footage - the service could pay for itself if it was measured incorrectly before.
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    Add wood trim and cornice for a cheap and easy do it yourself idea that can add tons of "wow" factor to the look of your home. Simple ceiling trim and armchair railing are the easiest and most typical upgrades found in newer homes. To make an even bolder statement, paint the walls a neutral, flat color and paint the trim a high gloss white.


  • Use floor and table lamps in every room and sheer curtains to make your open house more inviting. Lamps give a softer light, and the curtains let in sunlight, which makes the room more home-like and less clinical. You can pick up decent stuff from garage sales if you don't have any.
  • Improve the things people can see. Getting rid of highly visible eyesores will add the most value per dollar to your home.
  • You may wish to consult with a state licensed appraiser before doing any remodeling. An appraiser can give you valuable insight into what your market area can and cannot support.
  • As a last resort, consider flooring options. If your carpet is in really bad condition, you can replace it, or you can restore the original hardwood floor. Hardwood floors are very popular right now, and in a lot of cases old houses have nice hardwood flooring underneath the carpet. Rip up a bit of carpet in a closet or other inconspicuous area to check the floor’s condition, and compare the price of restoring the hardwood to that of installing new carpet.
  • Install ceiling fans. If you live in an area where warm weather is common, replacing built in ceiling lights with ceiling fans will improve the form and function of your home. You can find ceiling fans at a "big box" retailer or at your local hardware store with lighting for as little as $30 a fan
  • Another adage among realtors is that women will buy a great kitchen, while men buy an impressive garage or den. Pay particular attention to these areas when you're sprucing up your house for showing.
  • Turn on all the lights when your realtor is showing the house.
  • Consider playing some soft classical music in the background when your house is being shown.


  • Know that the value of your home is severely limited by the comparable sales in your neighborhood. If you live somewhere that's been hit hard by foreclosures, you might not get much value out of trying to improve your home before selling.
  • Most fluorescent bulbs don't work with dimmer switches, so be careful not to put them together. Unless the bulb's packaging indicates dimmer compatibility, assume that a dimmer will not work.
  • Before doing any electrical work on the house, shut the power off to that room from the main circuit breaker. Shutting power off to the whole house is even safer.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable making a repair or improvement, call a professional. It’s better to pay to have the work done than to have to pay for extra damage you do.
  • Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for cleaning walls or carpets, or you may do more harm than good.
  • Full remodels of kitchens, baths, attics or basements do not boost the value of the home enough because most home owners go overboard on how much they spend on these remodels.

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Categories: Build Design & Remodel Own Home