I found this great Consumer Reports article that offers great tips for home improvement. Here are some excerpts.
Consumer Reports: The top 5 ways to raise your home’s value– now
“Consumer Reports offers the following strategies that strike the sweet spot between too much enhancement and not enough.”
1. Clean up, clear out. Cost range $0 (DIY)- $2500 (PRO); potential return 3 to 5 percent. Nothing drives away would-be buyers faster than clutter, grime, and the weird smells that accompany a messy home. Also vital to the process is decluttering and depersonalizing the space as much as possible. For severely cluttered space, or if you’re downsizing and need help winnowing your possessions, consider hiring a professional organizer.
2. Spruce up the Kitchen. Cost range: $300 to $5000; potential return 3 to 7 percent. It’s a real estate adage that the kitchen, more than any other room, sells the house…Bill Wilson, a real estate professional in upstate New York, advises clients to make all those minor repairs that can lead to serious second thoughts for buyers–the leaky faucet, the loose light fixture, the burn mark on the countertop…If the kitchen is badly outdated, increasing your budget to $5000 might make sense’ especially if you could be in the home for a few more years. A couple thousand dollars will get you a top performing refrigerator, range, and dishwasher, all with the popular stainless-steel finish.
3. Freshen up the Bath. Cost range $300 to $1000. Potential return 2 to 3 percent. Buyers want to see that a home is clean and well maintained, especially in the bathrooms. Installing new bathroom fixtures will make the space brighter and more appealing. Updating the mirror and lighting will improve the sensory experience…there are several larger upgrades that shouldn’t cost a fortune…For example, you might be able to add a new floor and vanity countertop for less than $1000…if you use inexpensive vinyl and laminate.
4. Paint the Rooms–Selectively. Cost range $100 (DIY)-$1000 (PRO)…Kitchens and bathrooms are two candidates for a complete paint job given the high traffic they see. You should also paint any brightly colored rooms. Whites and off- whites tend to attract the most buyers; the neutral palette allows them to focus on the homes attributes.
5. Enhance the Exterior. Cost range$150-$7500;potential return 2 to 5 percent…Consumer Reports recommends starting with basic maintenance: mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs…make minor repairs, such as replacing cracked siding boards…The roof is another area to pay close attention to because prospective buyers are sure to do the same.