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10 Affordable Improvements to Increase Home Value

Enjoy your home more today — and sell it for the best price tomorrow.

When it comes to home improvement, some dollars stretch more than others. And if you’re on a limited budget, it becomes even more important to spend those dollars wisely. Listed here are 10 affordable improvements to increase home value. Enjoy your home more today with a few of these projects, while providing excellent financial return in the future.

1. A Touch of Molding

Buyers often rank crown molding and chair railing at the top of their list of most desirable decorative features they seek in a home. Decorative molding is one of the most dramatic ways to dress up a room, plus it’s a budget-friendly improvement that trims a room for a finished and expensive look.


Popular wood moldings come in literally hundreds of options (from simple to ornate) that you can stain, paint, or leave natural. Be creative! You can even find moldings that include lighting; adding a soft, ambient glow.

Helpful tips about molding:

  • Use crown molding that makes a room seem bigger and taller. But be careful about proportions. Do not overwhelm the room. If your ceiling height is 9 feet or less, go with simpler styles.
  • Place chair railing at one-third the distance of the ceiling height. Chair railing placed incorrectly can make a room seem out of proportion.
  • Don’t forget entryways, doors, and windows: Bump up the trim around these areas to give rooms a completed and expensive feel.
  • Hire a professional. DIY installation is only recommended for homeowners with above-par mitering skills.

2. Install Quality Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are hands down the #1 feature on buyers’ decorative wish lists. Over the years, ceiling fans have become quite the crowd pleaser. Today, ceiling fans have evolved into an essential component of American homes as energy prices continue to rise. And since designs have caught up with the times, they come in a variety of styles and colors to complement any room.  If your ceiling fans are old and outdated, new ones (coupled with a fresh paint job and crown molding) could give your rooms a refreshing update while saving money.

3. Plant Trees

Although they say money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s true that trees are moneymakers that get better with age. In fact, planting trees can save hundreds annually on energy costs, lower stress, prevent erosion, and protect your home from weather damage.

But don’t just run out and plant trees willy-nilly. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Plant shade trees on the south side of the house where the sun beats strongest and longest.
  • Lower winter energy costs by planting windbreak trees on the north and northwest sides of your property.
  • Don’t plant too close. Branches can scrape roofs and siding, causing expensive damage.

4. Install a Patio

Patios are a great cost-effective way to increase your home’s living space, and you can easily expect a 30% to 60% return on your investment. One big reason is that decks and patios are a sweet way to expand living space at a low cost without actually adding on another room.porchswing_hwtf-7-640x800

Already have a patio? GREAT! Scope out easy décor ideas on social sites like Pinterest and Houzz. Simply adding a porch swing or firepit can provide just enough ambiance and “wow factor” to impress potential buyers. Don’t go crazy and trick out your patio with high-end amenities (like an outdoor kitchen) especially if you’d be the only one on the block with one. When it’s time to sell, you won’t get back much (if any) of your investment on high-end amenities. Instead, keep it simple and functional. (And, really, how often would you use an outdoor kitchen?)

5. Pump Up Your Home Security

 Many home buyers nowadays look for a home security system (particularly security cameras) and list it as one of their list most-wanted technology features. The peace of mind that comes with installing a home security system is priceless, plus is will make your home more marketable.

You don’t have to go over the top and install high-tech security gadgets, like smartphone-operated locks or a laser trip wire. You can keep it simple with a keypad that communicates with sensors and motion detectors throughout your house.

6. Do Almost Any Energy-Efficient Upgrade

The value of energy-efficient houses just keeps going up and up.

One home improvement project that not only saves energy but gives you tons of enjoyment, too, is converting a wood-burning fireplace into a gas one. Homebuyers often list a gas fireplace as a desirable feature of the next home they purchase. If you don’t have an existing fireplace, a direct-vent gas fireplace can be installed and finished for around $5,000. Your ROI is practically guaranteed as it raises desirability to potential buyers by nearly 30%.

7. Add Some Creative Storage

Built in storage and organization is a huge selling point in the housing market. Since when have you heard someone complain about too much storage? Never, right?

So, adding storage is a no-brainer, but it can take a little brainpower to find your home’s hidden storage potential.

8. Light Up the Outdoors

 Make your home shine in the evening with exterior lighting. It not only accents features you like most about your house, it also helps keep burglars away. Whether you choose hard-wired lighting fixtures or easy to install solar lighting, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to boost your home’s nighttime curb appeal. Plus, 90% of buyers say outdoor lighting is a highly desired home feature, so you could potentially receive a 50% return on your investment.

Here are some great lighting tips:

  • Accent lights placed under your favorite trees will show off your landscaping’s top earners.
  • Hard-wired lights should be placed on a timer so you don’t waste energy running them during the day.
  • Choose a warm, white light. It’ll make your home look and feel welcoming.

9. Replace Your Front Door

Curb appeal is key, plain and simple. Take a walk to the street and put yourself in a potential buyer’s position…they are stepping out of the car and the face of your home is the first thing they will see. Your front door should silently welcome and beckon them to come inside. Replacing or even adding a fresh coat of paint to your old front door is a project that not only kicks up curb appeal but it also yields the best payback.

10. Kitchen Upgrade

 The kitchen is often considered to be the “hub” of a home, so an upgrade is a wise consideration before placing your home on the market. Don’t worry, a kitchen remodel doesn’t have to be a huge and expensive project to be impressive. Here are a few simple upgrades that will yield a great return on investment:

  • New flooring
  • Refacing instead of replacing cabinets
  • Add modestly priced appliances
  • Paint the walls a light neutral color to make it feel fresh and clean

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