10 cheap ways to increase your home’s value

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You don’t have to go into debt or complete a major remodel to build equity in your home. Learn about 10 cheap ways to increase your home value. (Shutterstock)

If you want to sell your home or refinance your current mortgage to tap home equity, you undoubtedly want your home to be worth as much as possible. Expensive renovations aren’t the only way to boost your home value. You can complete a number of inexpensive, relatively easy projects to help improve your home’s chances of appraising at top dollar. 

Keep reading to learn about some low-cost changes you can make to increase your home value — and how to pay for them.

If you’re thinking about doing a cash-out refinance to make improvements to your home, you can easily compare mortgage refinance rates using Credible.

How to figure out your home value

Home values are constantly changing, along with your local real estate market. Nationally, the median home sales price has risen by more than 15% year-over-year, according to National Association of Realtors® data. That means your home value could rise significantly without you doing anything at all. 

Before you start trying to increase your home’s worth, it’s important to know where you stand. Home prices are based on what sellers are willing to pay, and determining your home’s value before putting it on the market can be an inexact exercise. Home appraisals and online home estimator tools can give you a good idea of how much your home might be worth. 

Home appraisal

A trained, licensed professional performs a home appraisal to determine a home’s value. The appraisal takes into account the features of the home, as well as recent sales of comparable homes in the same area. A home appraiser may request access to the inside of your home, or simply complete the appraisal by examining the exterior. 

Lenders will typically require a home appraisal before issuing you a mortgage to buy or refinance a home. You’ll have to pay a fee for the appraisal, but you’re entitled to a written copy of the report. Home appraisals typically cost between $300 and $450, though they can sometimes cost as much as $900, depending on your location. 

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Online home value estimator

A number of online tools offer to give you a valuation of your home based on their own algorithms. These include real estate listing sites like Redfin and Zillow, companies that buy homes like Offerpad and Opendoor, or banks and mortgage lenders. Home values are generally based on publicly available data, like the square footage of your home, sale history, and sales of similar homes in your area.

Online home value estimator tools can give you a quick, free estimate of your home’s worth. However, since nobody is physically examining your home, the information used to compute your home value is limited. 

Credible lets you compare mortgage refinance rates from various lenders, and it won’t affect your credit.

10 cheap ways to increase your home’s value

While a pricey renovation or addition may increase your home’s resale value, these projects are time-consuming and expensive. You may be able to boost your home’s worth much quicker with these 10 inexpensive projects. 

All average cost information below is from HomeAdvisor, which bases its data on actual project costs reported by members.

1. Deep clean and declutter

Average cost

  • Deep cleaning: $200 to $400
  • Decluttering and staging: $650 to $2,500

When you sell your home, you’ll invite potential homebuyers inside to imagine what it would be like to live there. This is a lot easier if your home is clean and tidy. You could add $1,728 to your home value for deep cleaning and another $2,584 for decluttering, according to research from real estate technology company HomeLight.

Cleaning is fairly straightforward. Focus first on the kitchen and bathroom, high-traffic areas that quickly accumulate messes. You may also consider renting a carpet cleaning machine or hiring a carpet cleaning company. Decluttering can be more of an art. Put away personal items and make sure open areas, like countertops, shelves, and desks, are free of clutter. You may also want to temporarily remove furniture, cribs, and other items to give your home a more open look.

2. Paint or pressure wash

Average cost

  • Painting: $200 to $1,000 for interior; $1,750 to $4,400 for exterior
  • Pressure washing: $200 to $500

A good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can make both the interior and exterior of your home stand out. Consider painting your interior walls a neutral color to avoid jarring a potential buyer. 

Pressure washing the exterior of your home can clean stains and debris that have built up over time, making your home look newer. While you’re at it, pressure wash the walkways, driveway, decks, patios, and fencing as well. If you find that the paint has peeled or chipped in places, or has faded, consider repainting to make it look brand new. 

3. Replace light fixtures and hardware

Average cost

  • Light fixtures: $75 to $150 for the fixture; $500 for professional installation
  • Hardware: $2 to $50 per knob

You can swap out light fixtures for more modern choices throughout your home to give it a sleeker look. You can do the same with your home’s hardware — cabinet knobs, drawer pulls, toilet paper holders, closet doorknobs, and any other metal pieces. 

Hardware and light fixtures can have different finishes, including satin nickel, matte black, or oil-rubbed bronze. Strongly consider sticking with one finish throughout your home to give it a cohesive look.

4. Boost curb appeal

Average cost

  • Landscaping: $4 to $6 per square foot
  • New front door: $500 to $1,700

You want your home to leave a good first impression, and how it looks as a prospective buyer drives up is a major factor. You can boost this curb appeal through a number of low-cost touches, including replacing worn-out landscaping, trimming and pruning trees and bushes, re-mulching garden beds, mowing the lawn, and repainting or replacing the front door. 

5. Add crown molding

Average cost

  • Single room: $300 to $800
  • Entire home: $3,200 to $12,000

Crown molding refers to decorative trim pieces that are installed along the seam between your ceiling and walls inside your home. You can choose from thousands of different styles, ranging from simple to ornate. You can also select different materials, including wood, metal, PVC, or plaster. 

6. Make your home energy efficient

Average cost

  • Home energy audit: $200 to $700
  • Window replacement: $300 to $1,200 per window

Having an energy-efficient home can be a major selling point. Before listing your home, consider conducting an energy audit that’ll examine the efficiency of your HVAC and insulation and see where you might be able to invest to save money in energy costs for years to come. 

You may be able to make your home more energy efficient by replacing old windows, installing smart thermostats, changing old light bulbs to LEDs or CFLs, or swapping out old appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers for more modern, efficient models. Homebuyers may be willing to pay nearly $9,000 more for a home that can save $1,000 per year in utility costs, according to a National Association of Home Builders study.

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7. Upgrade appliances

Average cost

  • Refrigerator: $430 to $10,600
  • Washer or dryer: $450 to $2,200 per appliance

If the appliances in your home are more than a decade old, consider replacing them before putting your home on the market. A new refrigerator, stove, washer, or dryer can add a “wow factor” for potential buyers and help your home stand out. Consider stainless steel appliances, which remain some of the most desirable.

8. Refinish or install new flooring

Average cost

  • Refinishing existing hardwood floors: $1,000 to $2,500
  • Installing new hardwood floors: $2,500 to $6,800

If you’ve lived in your home for any length of time, your hardwood or other flooring likely has some wear in high-traffic areas. Refinishing hardwoods can breathe new life into them, making them look next to new. Brand-new flooring may be a worthy investment if your floors are in particularly bad shape. 

New wood floors can boost the sales price of your home by about 2.5%, according to Realtor.com. But both of these projects are pretty disruptive — you’ll likely need to move out of the home and remove much of your furniture before redoing your floors. 

9. Spruce up your bathrooms

Average cost

  • New shower head: $50 to $1,000
  • New vanity: $1,500 to $3,800

Bathrooms are among the top features that sell a home, and dated bathrooms can hold down your home’s value. A full bathroom remodel is a pricey endeavor, but some simple fixes can bring new life to the space. 

Replace worn-out toilet seats, swap out faucets and showerheads, upgrade your mirrors, and perhaps even bring in a new vanity. If needed, re-grout tile or fix chipped tile.

10. Update your kitchen

Average cost

  • New countertops: $1,800 to $4,300
  • New backsplash: $600 to $1,400
  • Painting cabinets: $400 to $1,000

The kitchen is another big feature when selling your home. Renovating a kitchen is even more expensive than a bathroom remodel, but you can update your kitchen on the cheap and potentially boost your home value. 

Upgrade your cabinet hardware, update faucets and other fixtures, and consider new granite or quartz countertops if your budget allows. Repainting cabinets can freshen them up, and adding a new backsplash is another budget-friendly way to boost value.

How to pay for improvements that increase your home’s value

You don’t need to go into debt to boost your home value, and it may not be wise if you’re looking to sell in the near future. But you do have options to finance home improvement projects that will increase the equity in your home. 

  • Savings — Paying for home improvements with cash you have on hand is the cheapest way to pay for your projects. Since most of the above projects are relatively low-cost, you may be able to get a sizable return without taking on additional debt.
  • Cash-out refinance — With a cash-out refinance, you take out a new mortgage for a higher amount than you currently owe. The new loan pays off your old mortgage, and the difference between the new loan amount and your old balance comes to you as cash. Since mortgages typically have relatively low interest rates, this can be a cost-effective way to get the money you need for home improvements. But failing to repay your mortgage can put you at risk of foreclosure, and a cash-out refinance may come with higher monthly payments. And remember, when you go to sell your home, you’ll have to use the sale proceeds to pay off your refinanced loan.
  • Home equity loan or HELOC — These two loan types — often called second mortgages — allow you to borrow against the equity in your home. The more equity you have, the more you’re able to borrow. Home equity loans typically let you borrow a lump sum of money upfront and pay it back with fixed monthly payments over a period of time. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is a revolving line of credit that works more like a credit card. You have a set amount you’re able to spend, but you only pay back what you actually borrow. Since both loans are secured by your property, interest rates tend to be lower than other types of loans. But you also risk foreclosure if you fail to make your payments.
  • Personal loan — A personal loan is generally an installment loan that you pay back at a fixed interest rate over a period of time. You may be able to borrow as little as $1,000 or as much as $100,000, depending on your credit score. Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up your property as collateral. They’re also extremely flexible in how they can be used. Personal loan interest rates do tend to be higher than secured forms of credit, though.
  • 0% interest credit card — If you want to spread payments for a home project over a short period of time, a 0% interest credit card may be a good option. If you pay off the balance during the promotional period, you won’t pay any interest. But if you carry a balance beyond the introductory period, your rate will jump up significantly and you may owe back interest for the entire time you’ve held the card.

With Credible, you can see your prequalified mortgage refinance rates in minutes.