Nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. homeowners believe the value of their home will continue to rise over the next 10 years, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 1,400 homeowners in August 2018. That may be optimistic, considering that some factors that determine what a house is worth, like its location and the popularity of that market, are out of your control.

If, like 70% of American homeowners, you believe your house is your biggest asset, taking care of it is probably a top priority. The good news is, keeping up with repairs and making smart improvements are both proven ways to increase home value over time. Whether you want to build equity or get top dollar when you sell, use the tips below to raise the value of your home.

Make it more attractive

Curb appeal — how your home looks from the street — is your first chance to make a good impression. A home’s exterior needs to make a prospective buyer want to walk through the front door. Make sure existing landscaping is well-maintained. If your yard seems dull in comparison with your neighbors, consider planting flowers or repainting the front door.

One of the simplest ways to enhance your home’s curb appeal is by replacing the garage door. Maybe your current one is original to the home, and may not be in line with today’s trends. Maybe it’s accumulated some wear and tear over the years, but just isn’t a home item that you spend much time thinking about as long as it’s still functional. A new garage door adds a high bang for your buck once installed, and makes the entire property appear newer.

Once the exterior looks good, focus on the kitchen and bathroom. When these two rooms are outdated, they can keep a property from reaching its highest valuation.

And you don’t have to spring for heated towel racks or marble floors, either. A minor kitchen remodel recoups 81% of its cost in added value on average, versus 53% for an upscale kitchen remodel with stone countertops, custom cabinets and commercial-grade appliances, according to Remodeling magazine’s “2018 Cost vs. Value Report.”

The same is true for bathrooms; a midrange remodel — new flooring and a few updated fixtures — delivers a 70% return on investment, while an upscale bathroom remodel — heated flooring, custom cabinets and designer fixtures — sees 56% on average.

Make it low-maintenance

Since many home buyers worry about buying a home that will need constant maintenance, replacing a major component before putting it up for sale — like the furnace, water heater or even the roof — may calm fears of an emergency repair in the near future and help get you a higher price.

Improvements that make things easy to clean and maintain may also increase home value. Consider replacing easily stained carpet with hardwood floors or replacing high-maintenance wood siding with vinyl siding.

Make it more efficient

Energy conservation features can have a significant impact on home value, depending on what area of the country you’re in. Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) allow borrowers to take on additional debt to cover both the purchase of the home as well as energy-efficient upgrades. EEMs can also offer lower mortgage rates to increase purchasing power, according to Energy.gov.
Energy conservation features can have a significant impact on home value, especially in places that experience extreme heat or cold. Consider double-paned windows, enhanced attic insulation, LED lighting and efficient appliances as a way to increase home value and entice energy-conscious buyers.

If you’re willing to go bigger, put solar panels on the roof. Thirty-nine percent of agents surveyed recently by the National Association of Realtors said solar panels increased perceived property value. But since solar panels are a big financial and structural commitment, they only make sense if you’re hoping to increase value over the long term, not looking for a quick boost in resale value.

Make it smarter

Safety-enhancing gadgets top the list of “smart” technologies buyers want in their new homes, according to a 2018 survey by Coldwell Banker. These safe and smart devices include thermostats, fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security cameras, door locks and lighting.

While smart tech doesn’t always increase home value, it does add appeal. Those who see themselves as “techies” are more likely to pay more for these items. Unlike replacing the roof or renovating the bathroom, you can usually install these devices yourself for about $1,000 or less.

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