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It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI

August 20, 2020

painting kitchen cabinets

photoman/Getty Images

DIY home improvements can be great feel-good projects. You get to learn a new skill, use your hands, and take pride in something you create yourself.

But let’s face it: Your DIY project doesn’t make sense if it won’t make cents. In other words, it needs to pay off when it comes time to sell your home.

“The key to winning the ROI game with home improvement is to take a less-is-more approach,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor.

If your goal is to earn a return on your DIY investment, DiClerico suggests taking on smaller improvements that will have a big impact on buyers.

“Bells and whistles tend not to rank high on ROI,” DiClerico says. “The high-tech home theater might mean hours of fun for you and the family, but it’s probably not going to pay for itself when the time comes to sell.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit your house with the latest technology—if you’re making an improvement that you’ll love and enjoy, go for it. But if you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and tackle a project that will offer serious bang for the buck, try one of these home improvement projects next weekend.

1. Refresh your kitchen cabinets

“If the cabinets are in good shape, adding a fresh coat of paint or stain will dramatically transform the feel of the entire kitchen,” DiClerico says.

Be warned: Even though painting isn’t very difficult, it’s still time-consuming. You’ll need to remove the doors and drawers to ensure a clean finish. “But in terms of skill level, it’s something even novice DIYers can handle,” DiClerico says.

And remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to any painting project.

“You could lose some buyers with a sloppy paint job,” says Scott W. Campbell, a real estate agent in Milwaukee. “If you truly want to increase ROI, a good paint job takes time and patience.”

2. Create curb appeal

Making a great first impression on home buyers is one of the quickest ways to boost your home’s value.

“Landscaping and gardening are the biggest ones that also are simple,” says Kendall Bonner, a real estate agent in Lutz, FL. “Curb appeal has a significant impact on buyer’s purchasing decisions.”

Aside from adding tasteful foliage and keeping your lawn manicured, a few strings of café lights can also improve your home’s outdoor space and curb appeal. Don’t forget to paint old fences and prune overgrown plants.

3. Give your front door a makeover

Want to boost your home’s curb appeal but don’t have a green thumb? Spruce up your front door instead. All it takes is a few coats of paint. (The same rules apply: Work slowly and carefully to avoid drips and roller marks.)

“A fresh pop of color at the front door is a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal for not a lot of money or time,” DiClerico says.

4. Create a backyard deck

“Outdoor living is hugely popular, even more so since the pandemic, since people are looking to expand their home’s usable living space,” DiClerico says.

Creating a new deck is possible to do yourself, but “it’s not for the faint of heart,” he adds, especially if you’re putting in concrete footings for the deck posts. This project is best for intermediate to advanced renovators, and it helps to have a few friends on board to assist.

Keep the design simple—avoid any tricky changes in elevation—and work with pressure-treated lumber instead of hardwoods that are tough to cut and screw into, DiClerico says.

5. Brighten up the basement

You don’t need to spring for a fully finished basement to appeal to prospective buyers.

“Spraying the basement unfinished ceiling with flat black latex paint can make big difference to clean up a look, and spraying the walls,” Campbell says.

To take your project to the next level, you can add carpeting and adjustable lighting. By cleaning up the basement, you can help prospective buyers envision a space that will fit their needs, whether it’s as a rec room, play area, or home gym.

6. Add more storage

“Anytime you add usable living space to the home, you increase its value,” DiClerico says. “That’s true now more so than ever given all the time we’re spending at home.”

Making an addition to your home might not be realistic. But smaller improvements, like adding a pantry in the kitchen, a new storage unit in the garage, or even closet organizers, add valuable storage space to your home and will pay off when you’re ready to sell.

7. Make small repairs and keep up with maintenance

It may not be as satisfying as tackling a big project, but staying on top of your home’s basic maintenance is just as important and promises serious ROI.

“Many of today’s buyers are staying away from fixer-uppers in favor of move-in ready homes that won’t require frequent repairs,” DiClerico says.

Seemingly small problems like a leaky faucet, loose gutter, or missing light fixture can be a red flag.

“When buyers see things like that, they think to themselves, ‘What else is wrong with this house that I can’t see?’” DiClerico says. “Spending a few hundred dollars on these small repairs will let the buyer know that this house has been cared for.”

The post It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

When the Outside Matters More Than Ever: 6 Curb Appeal Tricks To Attract Buyers During Coronavirus

May 11, 2020

hikesterson/Getty Images

Curb appeal: It’s the make-or-break first impression of your home. It either beckons a second look or turns buyers off entirely. And now, in the age of the coronavirus, curb appeal is more vital than ever—since buyers might not be able to tour your home and are placing more weight on the exterior, or might be limiting in-person tours to only their top choices.

If you’re trying to sell your home during this pandemic—and the facade is a little worse for wear—don’t panic! We consulted with Clint Robertson and Luke Caldwell of HGTV’s “Boise Boys” to steal some tricks for curb appeal that’s so irresistible, buyers will be clamoring to know what’s inside.

1. Keep the yard green and pristine

Photo by Benjamin Silver Design 

The lawn is one of the first things buyers notice, whether they are pulling up to the curb or looking at an online listing. When it’s lush and green, it creates a favorable impression.

“One of the cheapest things you can do to enhance curb appeal is to keep your yard mowed and groomed,” says Robertson, who also partners with Caldwell at Timber and Love Realty. “Hire someone to mow it and keep it tidy, or take the time to keep it pristine.”

You don’t have to have a green thumb to get a lush lawn when you know these lawn care secrets.

2. Mind your driveway and walkway

curb appeal
Hose down the driveway and walkway before showing your home or taking photos.

Timber and Love Realty

You might be inclined to overlook the driveway and front walk—how much can you really do to make concrete look good? But, truth be told, these areas are like the red carpet of curb appeal: They lead buyers to the main event, the inside of your home.

A driveway and front walk with minor cracks and weeds popping up through the expansion joints (the straight lines that divide the driveway and walkway) are an eyesore.

Luckily, it’s an easy fix.

Remove the weeds, and patch the concrete with caulk, Robertson suggests. Hose it down or power-wash it. For extra pizazz, finish a concrete driveway or walkway with a clear, glossy sealer. (You can give faded asphalt driveways a face-lift with asphalt sealer.)

At the very least, hose down the driveway and walkway before photos, or a video or in-person tour, to give it a fresh look.

3. Flaunt your nighttime appeal

Photo by SINGLEPOINT DESIGN BUILD INC.

Prospective buyers might be driving by after dark see what your house looks like at night. Turn on the charm with a warm glow from exterior lighting.

“I like to do a 60-watt clear lightbulb on both sides of the door, but one that has a warmer tone so it doesn’t feel like you have that overly LED blue light,” Caldwell says.

All exterior lighting on the house and garage should match or have the same style for continuity, if possible.

Caldwell’s partial to clear-glass fixtures.

“I love having glass fixtures flanking the door because it’s more welcoming when you see the actual light,” he says. “Just make sure that all exterior lights—including the ones on the garage—have the same type of bulb for a unified glow.”

4. Don’t forget the garage

curb appeal
Match your garage door color to the trim.

Timber and Love Realty

The garage is a key component in curb appeal, too, especially if it’s attached to the house. But how do you spruce up this often dull space?

Caldwell suggests painting the garage door the same color as the trim on the house. Garage doors with a row of windows are pleasing to the eye, too.

“Sometimes garages feel dark and scary,” says Robertson. “The light allows it to make it feel like it’s more part of the home.”

DIY garage window kits are available for most newer garage door models and allow you to remove a row of existing panels and add glass inserts. If you’re adding windows where people can see in, don’t forget to stage inside the garage, too.

5. Replace outdoor accents and give your landscaping some love

Photo by David Morello Garden Enterprises, Inc.

A shabby doormat, dingy house numbers, and a rusty old mailbox are hardly deal breakers, but they do leave a stale impression. If your outdoor accents have seen better days, replace them.

Then make sure your landscaping looks lush for any passersby. Prune overgrown shrubs and trees. Weed flower beds, and spread a layer of fresh mulch.

“It’s like getting a new haircut for your house,” Caldwell says.

Add pretty-looking annuals if your yard is lacking color. Plant a Japanese maple to fill a bare spot and create symmetry.

“It’s low to the ground and doesn’t require much light,” notes Caldwell.

Then wrap up by cleaning the windows and sweeping the cobwebs from the front porch. Tidy up and stage the front porch so buyers can imagine themselves relaxing there on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

6. Give your front door a face-lift

Would a shabby door with peeling paint, rusty hardware, and scuff marks entice a buyer to go inside?

“If you’re going to spend money on one thing to add curb appeal, make it a new door,” says Caldwell.

Front doors with glass inserts evoke a warm and welcoming feeling. If there isn’t room in the budget, rejuvenate your existing door with a fresh coat of paint and hardware.

“A fresh pop of color in red, yellow, or blue can bring life to your house immediately and catches people’s eyes as well,” Caldwell says. “It feels like thoughtful consideration has been put into the home, and ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do—to let the home feel like a home that’s been loved and cared for and thought about. A home that’s been cared for stands out.”

The post When the Outside Matters More Than Ever: 6 Curb Appeal Tricks To Attract Buyers During Coronavirus appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How

February 8, 2019

jameslee999/iStock

We’re sure you already know that using the tenets of feng shui can result in a home that hums with harmony. But while you might think of this ancient Chinese philosophy as a way to improve your indoor space, you might not realize it can be directed toward your home’s exterior, too.

Good feng shui outside allows you to welcome visitors peacefully—and even entice potential buyers.

“Curb appeal is an important feng shui principle because the energy that a house exhibits from the outside can attract prosperity and good fortune—such as buyers,” explains Anjie Cho, a feng shui educator and author of “108 Ways to Create a Mindful and Peaceful Home.”

Ready to take the feng shui outside? Here are seven spots to focus on when it comes to your home’s curb appeal, and the feng shui reasoning behind each one.

1. Front door

Photo by Rachel Greathouse 

A focus on your entryway is key because this spot is the main portal for energy to enter your home.

“Feng shui dictates that a welcoming doorway calls both energy and opportunity into the home and the lives of those who live there,” says Trisha Keel, director of education at the International Feng Shui Guild.

If your entrance can’t be easily found from the street, try to figure out why (you might need to get bigger house numbers or trim back some bushes). If good energy, or qi, can’t find your door, a buyer won’t either, Cho adds.

“Paint the front door red, which is an auspicious color in feng shui that attracts the eye,” Cho suggests.

And don’t forget about the walkway or sidewalk that leads to your home, points out Katie Weber, a feng shui practitioner and creator of the Red Lotus newsletter. Both should be in good repair because, like a flowing river, they bring beneficial energy to the house.

2. Plants and flowers

Photo by Mirage Landscape 

To boost your curb appeal, you probably already know some of the old tricks—like adding lush plantings, blooms, and colorful trees to your yard and front stoop. But following these tips does more than pretty things up.

“Flowers are the yang [positive] expression of a plant, which indicates its health and confers it to the home,” Weber says.

In fact, if you focused on feng shui only outside your home, it would be enough to raise your house’s overall energy and bring in growth and vitality, she explains.

Not the season for planting where you live? Keel recommends bushes and grasses in front, with seasonal color in pots at the door.

But a word of caution: Nix any kind of cactus in your planters.

“Avoid pointy plants at the entrance, as they foreshadow pain within.”

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Watch: 5 Genius Landscaping Tricks That Will Pay Off in Spades

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3. Exterior paint

Photo by Vic’s Masonry LLC

“Peeling paint indicates problems coming to light,” Keel says, so make sure to tackle any problem areas before an open house.

Good feng shui depends on a house that’s in the best shape, so be sure to keep up with small—but significant—maintenance tasks.

4. Lawn care

Photo by Tom Howard Garden Design and Landscaping 

A pristine lawn that’s mown, with healthy plants and free of leaves and branches, says, “I care about my home.” But it also adheres to feng shui principles.

“An unkempt lawn indicates that the home does not cultivate good energy,” Cho says.

5. Garage and driveway

Photo by Doug Abbott

We’ve got news for you: House hunters will peek inside your garage—and traverse your driveway to get there. Clean up these hot spots before it happens.

“If you have a lot of clutter or your pathways are blocked, potential buyers will feel heavy, scattered, and overwhelmed—and this is not what they want to feel in their new home,” says Kim Julen, a certified feng shui practitioner.

And don’t get us started on those garbage bins haphazardly sitting in your driveway. Your refuse has negative energy (plus, it stinks). Leaving those bins out in the open can bring down your entire home’s qi, Cho says.

“Garbage is only attractive to flies, so create a trash can corral and you’ll sell easier than if you just throw the bins in the garage,” Keel says.

6. Exterior windows

Photo by WA Design Architects 

It may sound hokey, but windows are the eyes of your house—and sparkling-clean ones are critical to feng shui curb appeal.

“Clean windows represent clear thinking and understanding, and dirty ones can make buyers wonder what else isn’t maintained,” Cho says.

Plus: “Dirt doesn’t reflect light, and it’s light that attracts people,” Keel adds.

7. Fixtures

Photo by Pillar & Peacock 

Got a sticky door or wobbly hinges? These point to carelessness and may deter a buyer.

“When things fall into disrepair, it indicates stagnant energy and it pushes life away, rather than bring it in,” Cho says.

Take note of rust around your home’s exterior, too.

“Rusty doorknobs point to a challenged career or difficult, untended relationships,” Keel says.

A wise buyer may pick up on these vibes—and move on.

The post Yes, You Can Even Feng Shui Your Yard for Maximum Curb Appeal—Here’s How appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Want Instant Curb Appeal on the Cheap? These 6 Easy Tricks Will Cost You Under $200

August 31, 2018

It should come as no surprise that before you sell your home, you’ve got to make it sparkle—after all, prospective buyers will be peeking in every cabinet, corner, and closet they can get into.

But when you’re so focused on the inside, it’s easy to overlook the first (and arguably most important) space buyers will judge: the outside.

“Most people start coming drawing conclusions about a home as soon as they pull up to the house—or even before that, based on photos they’ve seen online,” says Lori Matzke, founder of Center Stage Home in Minneapolis. “If the exterior looks run-down or could even stand for just a little freshening up, that’s going to grab their attention.” (And not in a good way.)

You may already be thinking about what it would take to get your exterior in top form—and adding up the dollar signs in your head. But here’s the news: It is possible to add instant curb appeal without draining your savings account.

“Simple, inexpensive things can make a big impact on how quickly and for how much you sell your home,” says Kris Lindahl, a real estate agent in Minneapolis.

Ready to get started? Here are six ridiculously easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal—all for $200 or less.

1. Make your exterior sparkle with a pressure wash

For potential buyers, the walk up the driveway is their first look at your home, Lindahl says. Repaving the entire driveway would be nice, of course. But on a budget, pressure washing—which will run between $80 to $200 on average—will do wonders.

Driveways “turn green and black with dirt, and we don’t notice it because we see it every day,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Breyer Home Buyers in Atlanta. “White driveways and sidewalks really pop.”

What to buy: Stanley Pressure Washer, $108

2. Max out your use of mulch and drought-tolerant plants


Photo by Elliott Brundage Landscape Design 
It’s easy to rack up the bills with elaborate landscaping. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, says Lucy Armentrout, broker associate at Red Oak Realty in Oakland, CA.

“I’ve turned a number of completely dead, neglected front yards into ‘buyer magnets’ for somewhere in the range of $500,” she explains. “But even $200 is definitely a worthwhile investment if you’re able to do some of the work yourself.”

Her secret? Putting down fresh mulch in the front yard and gardens, and adding easy-to-care-for plants. In particular, she likes ornamental grasses, bushy lavender, and salvia plants—all of which are drought-tolerant and affordable, and make a dramatic pop against dark mulch.

The end result is “an elegant and polished statement,” Armentrout says.

Matzke echoes the call for fresh mulch: “Mulch is your friend,” she says. “It not only brightens up the exterior of your home, it can also keep the weeds down and fill in bare spots so your lawn will look long-term neat and tidy.”

What to buy: Sanco Industries Black Mulch, $23; Grower’s Solution Buzz Lavender Bush, $47

3. Lure in buyers with fresh honeysuckle


Photo by Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting 
If you have a walkway to the front door, plant some honeysuckle along the way, recommends Dawn Houlf, owner of EXIT Realty Number One and real estate coach in Las Vegas.

“Honeysuckle is a hardy plant that is heat-tolerant and also thrives in the shade,” Houlf says. “It can be used in a variety of ways—as a bush, a vine, or for ground coverage. The sweet nectar also brings in beautiful hummingbirds. And, of course, the fragrant smell helps, too, when buyers are viewing the home.”

What to buy: Sanjoes Goldflame Honeysuckle Vine, $22

4. Add symmetrical planters


Photo by Historical Concepts 
Smart home stagers and landscapers rely heavily on visual tricks to draw buyers’ eyes to the right places. One of their biggest secrets? Symmetry.

If you have some space by the front door, anchor each side of the door with potted plants full of bright flowers like hydrangeas, Houlf recommends.

“It looks pleasing to the eye to have one on each side,” she says. “If you just have one plant by your door, it will look lopsided to potential buyers.”

But don’t use plastic containers, she cautions. Ceramic or terra-cotta pots are necessary here to add a “special touch” and give your home that luxe factor.

What to buy: PSW Arcadia Terra-Cotta Drop Planter, $16

5. Freshen up your front door


Photo by Sidney Cardel’s 
Speaking of the front door: Adding a fresh coat of paint to yours is a cheap, easy trick that can transform your home in an afternoon’s time—and will definitely leave a lasting first impression.

“Buyers will often stand at the front door for a couple of minutes while the agent gets the key out of the lockbox,” Lindahl notes. “Make those moments count.”

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a shiny new coat in a classic color like black, gray, or red. But if you’re feeling a little daring—and really want to stand out on the block—go for a cheery pastel hue like a light green or orange-pink. (Bonus: Bold front door looks are trending big-time right now.)

What to buy: Behr Bijou Red Paint, $49

6. Roll out the welcome mat (literally)

You’d be hard-pressed to find an easier trick than this: A new welcome mat and an elegant wreath are cheap but inviting ways to welcome potential buyers in for a home tour, Houlf says. (It is in the name, after all).

“Enhancing the front so people will stop and stare after the first glance is vital for any property for sale,” she says. “Look for a cheery welcome mat, or if your sale is happening over a holiday, I’d recommend something seasonal.”

What to buy: Target Home Sweet Home Welcome Mat, $11

The post Want Instant Curb Appeal on the Cheap? These 6 Easy Tricks Will Cost You Under $200 appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.