April 20, 2022

Smart Home Improvements That Increase Your Value — and Those That Don’t

Home improvements should serve two purposes. First, they should make you happier in your home. And second, they should add to the value of your home. But many improvement projects are undertaken without regard to whether they improve the value. And if they aren’t a home-run in your enjoyment, then do you even need to do them?

Here are some ideas of home improvements that add value — and some common ones that don’t — so you can decide whether a project is worth it for your home and family.

Repairs and Maintenance

Keeping the roof in good shape, appliances in good repair, and replacing things that don’t work is always worth the money. Not only because if you plan to sell your home, buyers will expect things to work, but also because ignoring these items could cause costly damage that lowers your property’s overall value. For example, a leaky roof may seem like a minor inconvenience that you can quickly solve with a strategically placed bucket, but that excess water could lead to costly mold issues that you may not see until they’ve gotten completely out of control.

Solar Power

In Hawaii, solar power can add up to 4% of the home’s value. So, if your costs are reasonable based on that return on investment, it can be a smart upgrade. There are also long-term benefits in reduced energy costs, making installing a solar power system in your home a smart option.

Other Energy-Efficient Changes

Buyers are looking for sustainability upgrades beyond solar, so replacing fixtures with smart lights, controlled by a connected device and optimized for LED lights, can be a good upgrade. A tankless water heater or more energy-efficient appliances can also provide value when you sell.

More Space

Many homeowners are looking to upgrade, and a bigger home can be appealing. That means you should see an increase in value if you add more square footage to your home. Of course, that can be challenging on a small lot, so if you’re looking to make an addition, try going up or down instead of out. As you add square footage, consider ways to make that space useful. A mother-in-law apartment added as a second story or basement can be valuable, especially here in Hawaii, where our multigenerational ohana co-exist in homes. An office space is also a smart choice, as more and more employers allow flexible work to meet the needs of employees who worked from home during the pandemic — and liked it.

Outdoor Appeal

Landscaping, exterior paint, and more secure fencing can offer improved value. Buyers who see a solid front gate and a pleasing landscape as they walk up to a home will enter with a positive impression before they even see what’s going on inside your house.

Small investments in landscaping and outdoor gathering spaces will make your home more comfortable for your family to use while also giving you the value boost you’re looking for. For instance, a spacious patio with an outdoor stove helps make your family gatherings much more fun. Ongoing maintenance of landscaping can be hired out, or you can do it yourself pretty easily in most cases. And that outdoor stove can help lower your AC bill because you can avoid heating up the house every time you cook.

Kitchen Renovations

Kitchen remodels can be a good value, but the overall value will depend on how much you spend. High-end appliances and substantial structural changes may not give a great return on investment, while a minor update to the cabinets or mid-range appliances could net you much more value when it’s time to sell.

Bathroom Upgrades

New faucets, shower doors, or new tile can radically change your bathroom, and potential buyers might really love it. Replacing that old tile countertop with granite will add value and make your bathroom counter much easier to clean.

Home Improvements That Don’t Add Value

Tastes change, so it isn’t a great idea to spend a lot of money on design fads. Crazy paint colors and carpeting aren’t a great investment. If you want to adopt trends in your home, stick with accessories that you can swap out when you are no longer in love with them. It’s much easier and more affordable to buy new throw pillows than paint the walls when you regret your choices a few seasons later. Wallpaper may also be a mistake, as it is challenging to remove, and buyers would rather see a wall they can easily repaint than a big project when they first move into their new home.

The other consideration for home improvements is the overall cost. The less you can spend on a project, the more likely that you will recoup a good portion of your investment. Also, look at how long you will be living with the upgrades. If you’re doing it just to get your home market-ready, try to cut costs without sacrificing quality as much as possible. But if you’re doing a project for love and plan to be in your home for years, then you can focus less on what you’ll get back from the project and more on the years of joy it will bring you.

See if a Home Equity Line of Credit can help fund your home improvements