How to Make Your Home More Valuable

A recent report that home prices rose for the second straight month in May proves there are still vital signs in the struggling housing market. The news gave some analysts a reason to be cautiously optimistic that real estate is on the (slow and painful) path to recovery. So whether you have your eye on selling when the market stabilizes, or you just want to make your home more valuable while you're living there, Daniel Nahorney, co-author of How to Increase the Value of Your Home, supplied a few tips for homeowners. MAINTAIN YOUR LAWN “People want to see something warm and inviting — curb appeal is critical," Nahorney tells us. First impressions stick, so unless Tarzan and Jane are your buyers, you don't want a jungle in your front yard. DON'T USE PLANTERS Low-maintenance landscaping that can survive on rainwater keeps your yard looking good without reeking of hassle — “People see planters as extra watering," Nahorney advises — and effort to keep it looking good. INSTALL LIGHTING UNDER KITCHEN CABINETS It's a DIY project even a novice can complete … with some help. Plus, it'll look classy once you flip the light switch. “Indirect light reflects nicely off of granite countertops,” he says.  ADD NEW CABINET HARDWARE If you don't want to pony up the loot to replace the cabinets, new knobs, hinges, and wood stain will freshen up the area. "It's an inexpensive way to modernize a kitchen," he adds. REPAINT WHITE TRIM AND BASEBOARDS It'll probably take you a full weekend to do, but the subtle facelift will add pop and attract buyers. UPDATE FAUCETS AND FIXTURES “Leaky faucets turn buyers off," Nahorney explains. Leaky faucets are also a pain to live with. Get it done for yourself, but if you plan to sell make sure you're listing that as a selling point. FORGET THE POOL Swimming pools aren't as big of an attraction as you might think. "A pool always reduces the number of people who are interested in your home because they think of the maintenance and cost associated with upkeep," he says.  PAINT AN ACCENT WALL If you plan to stay in your home until they pry your dead carcass out of there, don't worry about color choices. Otherwise, pick a color you want to live with that fits the color scheme. “Avoid bold colors, so potential buyers can easily paint over it if they prefer a different color,” Nahorney suggests. BUILD A DECK OR PATIO One stat claims decks will get you about a 76 percent return, but the patio is still the cheapest option. It's also easier to maintain than a deck. ADD A FIREPLACE Lack of a fireplace isn't usually a deal-breaker, but having one adds ambiance. "They're also a draw because they’re nostalgic," Nahorney adds. Electric fireplaces don't require a chimney and are most likely the cheapest option. REMODEL WITH HARDWOOD FLOORS AND GRANITE COUNTERTOPS Hardwood floors are relatively easy to care for and don't advertise stains, like carpets do; granite countertops resist scratches, stains, heat, and protect against mold and mildew. "This can be expensive, but will add incredible value to your home," he says.