Real Estate Realities
A Few Changes Can Improve Home Value
By David Rosenfeld
Sep 23, 2012 - 4:20:50 PM

LOS ANGELES—Everyone knows it’s a tough economy and home prices aren’t what they used to be. But you can improve the value of your home by making small changes that won’t break your bank.


First, dirt is a big problem for prospective buyers who see a messy or dirty home as worth less than if it seemed cleaner and less messy. It may sound silly, but it’s true. It’s all about appearances, when it comes to home buying, and cleaning up dirty floors, messy rugs and carpeting can go a long way to improving your chances of getting a higher price for a home that may seem in perpetual disarray.

All it takes is a good mop, some cleaning utensils or a good carpet cleaning machine that will get rid of the messy look of your home’s interior. Shampooing your rug will do wonders for your home’s value. You won’t need to spend thousands on a new carpet if you professionally clean it.

Homes are to be lived in, so don’t be surprised when you see lots of wear on carpets, flooring, railings, cabinets and elsewhere. As a homeowner you should step back and ask if these wear areas need repair, replacement or merely cleaning. Wear and tear on doors, cabinets, fixtures and other items is a major concern for prospective buyers so check your cabinets for those doors that are constantly being opened and closed that may have loose hinges or that back door that is similarly opening and closing and is already dragging on your hardwood.

A good idea is to visit model homes and see how they’re painted and decorated. Take notes and you’ll get some ideas for your own home. You’ll find that you don’t have to paint your walls white all the time. Change colors, paint one wall white and another yellow, for instance, giving it a fresh and attractive look.

If you have a good realtor and if you are willing to listen, he’ll give you some additional ideas about making your home look good without having to spend a mint.

Getting rid of clutter and eliminating your old and worn furniture will also give your home an attractive look that gives prospective buyers a good feeling about the place. If you have hardwood floors, get rid of scuff marks and other damage that gives the notion that your home is old and may be hiding other defects.

Another good way to improve your home’s appeal is to make it sweet smelling. Sometimes older homes have musty or strong smell from aging wood or pets so it’s not hard to replace that smell by baking cookies and doing some heavy cleaning.

When it comes to improving the look of the home’s exterior, a bed of flowers or creating a small garden is a good choice to brighten things up and it simply gives your home a that nice curb appeal for buyers. And forget to keep edge your walkways to keep looking crisp and not overgrown.

More expensive ways to increase your home’s value is adding square footage. Add another bathroom or bedroom and the value will immediately jump ”“ but such additions are not inesxpensive nor easy, so think long and hard about the possible benefits and costs of adding new rooms.

Improving your kitchen ”“ which is arguably the most important part of the home ”“ will also increase your property value, but replacing cabinets, flooring and fixtures is another expensive proposition. 

Turning your basement (if you have a basement) into a family room is a more cost-efficient way to increase value and adding square footage without spending your family savings. With a fresh coat of paint, some needed cleaning, adding furniture and some floor coverings and your unseemly basement is now a cozy rumpus room that your prospective buyer can’t wait to use.  These small changes can be easy and sometimes fun and profitable if done right.

David Rosenfeld is a Real Estate broker and president of Advantage Real Estate, a Real Estate and investment firm in Santa Monica, and a Rotary Club member. He has more than 20 years experience in commercial and residential property investments and financial counseling.

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