1. INVEST IN INSULATION
It’s not sexy, but it will keep you warm. According to this year’s Remodeling Magazine Cost vs. Value report, adding fiberglass insulation to an unfinished attic reaps major rewards. Nationally, homeowners see an average of almost 108 percent return on their investment, with even larger paybacks in many coastal regions, including the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Mid Atlantic. Trulia estimates that installing fiberglass insulation can add $2,339, on average, to a home price.
2. SPRUCE UP THE KITCHEN
Small investments in the kitchen go a long way. A modern, updated kitchen was the number one priority for more than 1,500 house-hunting millenials surveyed by Consumer Reports, bumping the sale price up anywhere from three to seven percent. A Zillow Digs analysis found that adding a subway tile backsplash is particularly effective, boosting sale prices 6.9 percent.
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3. BOOST YOUR BATHROOM
Basic bathroom fixes are valuable too. According to Trulia, a minor refresh recoups 70 percent of costs. Repair broken tiles, scour rust stains, fix leaky faucets, and add a wall-mounted cabinet. “New on-trend hardware can make a big difference,” says Jackie Falla, the home flipper behind the blog Quest for the Nest. Whatever you decide, Falla warns, “Do not overspend!”
4. UPGRADE THE GARDEN
First impressions are key, so anything that ups a home’s curb appeal is crucial. Trulia finds that simply tidying up your yard can add five to ten percent to the market value of a home. Clear away debris, fertilize (and mow!) the lawn, repair loose pavers, weed the garden, trim the hedges, put down fresh mulch, and place welcoming flowers or topiaries in neat planters on either side of the front door.
5. GO GREEN
Energy efficiency is more than a trend; it’s a way of life. A 2015 survey by the National Association of Home Buildersfound that millennial buyers favor energy efficient homes. Luckily there are plenty of easy-to-do, low-cost upgrades, including swapping out incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs. If you have a slightly larger budget, Energy Star-certified appliances and high-efficiency windows are also good investments. And if you decide to repaint (another win-win), opt for low VOC paint.
6. THINK AHEAD
While millenials are a huge segment of the home-buying population, by 2040, 80 million seniors will account for more than 20 percent of the population, and current homes are ill-equipped to safely serve them. Buyers are looking at real estate with an eye towards aging in place. You may not be able to easily widen doorways, or move the master bedroom downstairs, but amenities like comfort-height toilets can bump a sale price up two percent.