10 Ways to Make Your Home Worth More

A home is a huge investment for many people, so why not make it worth even more? We count down to the No. 1 way to get the most bang for your buck.

#10: Refurbish the Basement
Many basements are plain, empty and unused spaces that rarely see any visitors. Why let all that space go to waste? Create an entertainment area that will "wow" your guests! Adding a fabulous bar area, seating and beautiful finishes will add character and value to your home.

#9: Put In a Deck
There's nothing like relaxing on a deck in the summertime with a cool drink in your hand. If you don't already have one, build one! On average, when a homeowner adds a deck to their home, they are likely to recoup approximately 76 percent return on their investment; however, you don't want your deck to be too big or too small -- it shouldn't be more than a third of your house. Most decks cost about $10,000, give or take. An appraiser's No. 1 rule is finding homes that are very similar within a mile away of your home, so matching your improvements to the homes in your neighborhood is very important.

#8: Do a Major Bath Remodel
Transform an ugly duckling into a swan of a master bath by finding more space -- but not with an addition. Stealing space can be a better solution if you can find the extra square footage. Open up a closet to make more room, create separate his-and-her areas with separate sinks, or add a skylight to bring in valuable natural light. Updating tub and tile are also good ideas.

#7: Paint, Paint, Paint
Don't be afraid of paint. It is one of the easiest and inexpensive things to do to dramatically change the look of your home. Here are some tips: If you are not sure about your color sense, bring in a professional color specialist to help. Also, think classic and neutral. A future buyer needs to be able to picture his or her things in the room, and too much personalization can prevent that. If your painting skills are below par, hire someone. In the end, it evens out because nothing is worse then a bad paint job. So fight your fear of commitment, and splash a little color on those walls!

#6: Add On to the Attic
Renovate your attic. The space above a garage is often small, dusty and cramped space and sometimes rarely even used for storage. Why not turn it into a bedroom suite? Add as many windows as possible for that precious natural light. Recessed windows, hardwood flooring, built-ins and custom seating are also great ways to add value.

#5: Build a Second Floor
Adding a second story can do more than just create square footage. It can bring balance to an uneven house. A flat roof over a garage can be an eyesore as well as a huge waste of space. You could solve both problems at the same time by adding on to the top of the garage. Use all that dead space to build a master suite or a reading room. You will not only add space, but you will also add tremendous curb appeal.

#4: Keep Rooms Flexible
Does your home have a unique specialty room? No one's saying you need to give up your "special place," but it's important to hold back a little. Too much customization can be a problem if you ever plan to sell your home, so try not to overdo it. Things like hardwood floors, wiring for cable, phone and DSL, and plenty of windows are good ways to customize while keeping the room versatile. Another idea is to make the space one that can easily be converted into a guest suite, studio, family room or a den.

#3: Revive the Kitchen
If you get creative and think about some small changes you can make in your kitchen, you won't have to spend a ton of money. Take down the rooster wallpaper and paint it a neutral color, for example. More and more buyers are expecting some standard items in a kitchen -- things like stainless-steel appliances and hardware. Throw in new light fixtures and you've got a great-looking, updated space. Also, some people are looking for gourmet kitchens. Whether they can cook or not, a kitchen is a huge prospect for a buyer. Bottom line: kitchens sell houses, so investing in an improvement in this room is the way to go.

#2: Make Minor Bathroom Changes
Minor changes can be advantageous because they cost less and often net a greater return than the investment. If you have old tile or a dated tub, sink and toilet, consider replacing those items. If you keep the same layout there's not a lot of expense that has to go into it. Updating light fixtures, linens and accessories are easy ways to breathe new life into the space.

And the No. 1 way to make your home worth more?

Spruce Up the Siding
It may not be glamorous, but replacing siding is our No. 1 pick for home improvements that add value to your home. Here is your chance to make a great first impression in the real estate world. If your siding is in bad shape, your home is going to earn the title of fixer-upper. You can usually judge a book by its cover, so old siding sets the tone for expectations of what potential buyers will find inside the house. Try adding curb appeal and lower maintenance with composite siding. Cement board siding is efficient, it lasts, and it's no maintenance.

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