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How to increase your property value

How to increase your property value
Making sure your roof is in good shape is a key way to add value
Tips for Increasing a Home's Property Value

How to Increase your home's property value is mostly a question of common sense and not getting carried away. In other words it's better to make changes that improve a house's level of comfort and the way it functions than try to guess a subsequent buyer's taste. Where you live -- i.e. what part of the country -- will affect priorities and what you can expect to get back from any investment. For example, in the desert Southwest, keeping cool in the long hot summer is essential, so shading, air conditioning, and ventilation will be a priority. 

Realtor Peter Chovanes with Van Guard Properties in San Francisco advises that you start with the four basics: foundation, roof, plumbing, and electrical. Are these in good order? if not, then repair them first. Of these probably the roof is the most important. "I am almost always asked 'How old is the roof?'" he says. "And keeping the roof in good shape alleviates other problems; for example, water can run laterally and once a leak starts it can follow plumbing and even electrical conduits. So what you think is a plumbing leak might really be a hole in the roof."

1. First take a good look at the state of your home, inside and out. Fix the obvious areas that need maintenance, as mentioned: foundation, roof, plumbing, electrical. 

2. De-clutter -- find ways to store neatly in containers and cabinets or remove to Goodwiil or the Salvation Army all the accumulated ephemera that's no longer being used and that always seems to take over bedrooms, home offices, basements, garages, and other spaces. 

3. Brighter, light-filled rooms are more appealing and make a house feel more spacious so look at your window coverings and consider replacing heavy drapes with shutters, shades, or blinds that take up less space and have a crisper look.

4. Replacing old windows with energy-efficient versions can help reduce your home's energy costs and add eco value, but most people don't ask about the age of the windows.

5. Ditto with water heaters, furnaces, and toilets -- these are good to update for energy and water conservation but probably will not add significantly to value and can easily be replaced by a subsequent homeowner.

6. If wood floors are looking tired, refinish them. Replace worn carpeting where possible. "People do look at floors," says Peter Chovanes.

7. Kitchens and bathrooms are obvious focal points. According to Peter: "It used to be that remodeling the kitchen offered the best return, but now kitchen costs are so high that the return has gone down." 

Consider a light upgrade here, say by replacing the sink and if your cabinets look dated then think about repainting them. Today's paints can do wonders and wood cabinets can be repainted many times. Refacing the cabinets is another option but can be almost as expensive as replacing them all together and often re-faced cabinets cannot be repainted if tastes change -- because of the laminate or other covering material used in the refacing process. 

If you are planning to replace counters -- solid surface quartz-based materials have become the popular alternative to granite and marble. Keep your material selections simple and unified; multiple patterns and textures will create a busy look that can make a room feel cramped. But as Peter says: "People can live with older kitchens and bathrooms" so when in doubt, keep a kitchen upgrade simple.

8. Bathrooms trend to be less expensive to remodel than kitchens so there is more potential for a return on your investment here. Master bathrooms in new homes now tend to include double vanities and a walk-in shower so consider upgrading accordingly. However, Peter advises: "If two sinks will make the bathroom feel too small then use only one but upgrade the fixtures and counter material." 

9. It is usually more cost-effective to remodel attics and basements than to add entirely new rooms.

10. Add curb appeal by weeding and sprucing up the garden with low maintenance, drought-tolerant plantings -- also called xeriscaping. Most people don't have a lot of time to spend gardening today so low-maintenance is important. Giving the front door a new coat of paint is a low cost way to add curb appeal.

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