Making the Most of your Home Improvement

As a homeowner, trying to determine the best return on upgrades to your property is sometimes more complex than just finding the time and money to do it. From flower beds to full remodels for added comfort or sale preparation, experts suggest the first step is to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Simply put, it is important to consider the reasons for the change; e.g., being unhappy with current surroundings, renovating an older home for safety and efficiency, or planning a move. Not all changes are about being paid back in a sale, and we asked Tyler Wolf of Wolf Real Estate for ways, however large or small, to improve your home’s appearance and livability. As a local licensed real estate service provider, he is well-appointed to advise homeowners about optimum projects and timing. 


If you are thinking about a remodel because you are selling a home, Tyler recommends considering two types of buyers, “You can prepare to market to homesteaders who want a house that is ready to live in, or fixer-uppers who want to save money on the purchase to live in or flip it.” 

In either case, it is practical to consider which improvements will increase your home’s value in the time you have before you want to list. The most high-value additions Tyler recommends include adding a fresh coat of interior paint, touching up landscaping, and updating bathrooms and the kitchen.

“If you have a long-term plan to sell or will live in the home for some time,” he adds, “You can choose projects that provide the greatest return on your investment. The best solutions are greater energy efficiency—windows and insulation—kitchen and bathroom remodels, paint, flooring fixes, and adding square footage. “


While Tyler and his agents report buyers consistently favor updated kitchens and bathrooms, clients looking for low-budget changes should consider a few DIY updates. 

Paint; neutral colors such as gray and greige (gray and beige) are the current trend in home sales.

Lighting makes a home look more inviting. Tyler recommends 100 watts of light for every 50 square feet. Under-cabinet and accent light fixtures for tables or walls are a plus. 

Update/paint cabinets. Outdated cabinetry may make a home look out of style. A less expensive solution is to paint or reface cabinets to freshen the look, or the least expensive option—update the hardware.

For a bit more, other short-term projects include installing crown molding or refinishing old flooring or deck surfaces. If you have more time and a good contractor, consider:

  • Basement remodel
  • Kitchen remodel
  • Custom cabinets and counter tops
  • Bathroom updates
  • Deck installation (depends on weather)
  • Roofing installation


Whether staying or selling, Tyler advises the most economical exterior updates are obvious repairs and updates, and a good deep clean of the property. “Doing these things alone can increase home value,” he says. 

  • It’s easy for dirt, algae, cobwebs, and other debris to accumulate on siding so be sure to clean gutters and wash exterior siding. Spray with a pressure washer and assess where you need to touch up the paint or fix a loose piece of siding.
  • Repair and repaint the front door, fences, and gates. It is worth it to have a cheerful first look when you come home every day, or to welcome potential new buyers. 
  • Pressure wash the driveway and other walkways. Fix broken bricks or loose flagstones. 
  • Spray or pull weeds regularly. You don’t want to plant seeds of doubt with potential buyers by revealing unsightly weeds or cracks before they even make it inside.
  • After the house is sparkling and ready for upgrades, add new exterior lighting, such as a budget-conscious lantern, new fixtures, and uplights to draw attention to particular areas. 
  • When you’re ready to invest more, add pops of color with flowers and plants. Place a few potted plants on the porch and deck for added appeal. 

If you have the resources, a good landscape architect can create a sanctuary that makes every evening feel like a stay-cation, or set your home apart during a sale. Tyler adds, “Landscaping is an excellent way to get a good return on cost, but it does not have to be expensive. Simply adding new mulch to trees and beds gives any yard a healthy and meticulous appearance.” 

If you have the time or are planning to stay in your home for some time, high-end upgrades that add appeal and value include new garage doors, hardy or stone siding, and new flooring. Tyler says, “These provide the best return on investment; most homeowners recoup at least 70 percent of those costs at sale.”