1: More Space and Light In real estate, dark and cramped are no good, so a little light goes a long way. If your house has small rooms that block the flow of natural light, you may want to consider knocking down some walls and opening up your floor plan. Open floor plans usually involve combining your kitchen, dining and liv- ing areas into one big space that suits a casual lifestyle. This makes a small house feel light and airy. If you're not up for taking down walls, even widening doorways 6 to 12 inches will make a noticeable difference. Adding rooms is also a big value booster. Great rooms can add square footage, and vaulted ceilings will make it feel like there's even more space.
2: Home Office Green is in, so many companies are looking for ways to re- duce costs and minimize their carbon footprint. One way is to offer telecommuting options for employees. Millions of Americans work from home, and that number grows every year. This has made a home office more of a necessity than a luxury. Creating a dedicated work space not only adds value to your house, but it also makes your telecommute tax de- ductible. Converting an unused den, sunroom or extra bed- room is a great way to take care of business from the comfort of your home.
3: Curb Appeal If your house doesn't look appealing from the outside, chances are a potential buyer will never make it inside. According to Bankrate.com, a good first impression can add five to 10 percent to the value of your home. If the exte- rior color of your house is dated or fading, painting is a good place to start your improvements. Choose colors and exte- rior details that match the period of your house. Shutters add charm and depth, but not if they're hanging crooked or flak- ing paint. Paving a driveway or walkway that is in disrepair is a must. Attractive, manicured front-yard landscaping will also add value to your home. Drought tolerant plants and easy-to-care-for perennials are a good option if you don't have a green thumb. And don't forget about your backyard.
4: Bathrooms If you've ever lived in a house that doesn't have enough bathrooms, then you know firsthand how valuable these rooms are to potential buyers. Updating or adding bath rooms, especially master baths, will add considerable value to your house. A master suite with his and her sinks, spacious showers and plenty of sq. footage are what buyers are looking for. Added amenities such as heated floors, steam showers & whirlpool tubs will serve you well, and ample storage is a must. Traditional ceramic tile floors are preferred over wood or linoleum because they handle water better. Half-baths can be created out of small closets or under stairs. If you want to go green, low flow toilets and skylights are good choices. Don't be shy when it comes to spending -- the average bathroom remodel can get you back the majority of your investment.
5: Add a Sunroom Sunrooms are a bridge between your home and the out- doors, and are part of today's popular "outdoor living" trend that includes outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and upscale pa- tios. Adding a sunroom is an affordable way to increase your home's square footage. In fact, it's typically less than half the cost of adding a standard room to your home. Even better, sunrooms are very attractive to homebuyers. When adding a sunroom to your home, select a spot that's near a gather- ing area --the kitchen, family room, living room or dining room as sunrooms typically become preferred eating spots and overflow areas when entertaining guests.
6: Add a Deck If you think adding a sunroom is a cost-effective way to in- crease your home's value, nailing on a deck is truly a bargain. Today's homeowners crave outdoor living space, and are looking for something a little more special than yesterday's plain planks. So if you're going to add a deck, take some time to come up with an interesting shape, and consider adding enhancements such as a built-in fire pit, benches or raised garden beds.
7: Paint Painting is one of the least expensive ways to freshen and improve your home's look, and consequently its value. In the past, neutral colors were seen as the best way to create a fresh, bright, versatile look. But today, people crave color, so don't be afraid to consider a wide range of hues. Just stay away from super-bright colors, such as hot pink or neon.
8: Kitchen The kitchen is known as the heart of the house for a good reason. The draw of your kitchen to party-goers has the same value to potential buyers, so a kitchen remodel is one of the best ways to add value to your house. An updated kitchen appeals to a buyer's emotions and a homeowner's wallet be- cause, if done correctly, it can give you close to a 100 percent return on your investment. Plenty of counter and cabinet space is a must, and granite countertops are popular with buyers. Stainless-steel appliances are also a hot ticket, but the most important thing is to make sure your appliances all coordinate. A window over the kitchen sink and Island coun- ters are also wonderful additions.
9: Install a Bay Window Beautify your space by installing a bay window. There are many ways you can use this feature: create a place to enjoy breakfast by adding chairs and a side table; add a bench and comfy pillows to create a great lounging area; incorporate a bay window near your bed for a more enjoyable place to wake up and start your day with abundance of natural light!
10: Replace your Windows Replacing your dated windows with energy efficient windows is a great investment. Old windows not only let in the cold air, but also allow warm air to enter, causing your heating and cooling bills to be higher than needed. Old windows are usually dull and faded, so replacing the windows also freshens up your curb appeal.