24 Real Estate Experts Reveal How to Increase Your Home’s Value for $5,000 or Less

As the real estate markets in the US have started to take a little breather, many areas have seen a return to a more “normal” environment, meaning it actually takes a little bit of effort if you want to sell a home.
If you are trying to sell your home in the Newport Beach area, for example, we’ve seen the amount of time it takes (average days on market) rise from an average of 69 in March of 2014, when the markets were smoking hot, to a more tepid 100 here at the start of 2015.
As a REALTOR® selling homes in North Tustin, I find many of my clients, who are thinking of selling, ask what’s the best way to increase the selling price of a home (or just get it to sell more quickly) with out taking the risk of spending tens of thousands on a home remodel?  We asked 24 of the greatest minds in real estate to answer this important question.
Here’s what they came up with:
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“One great way to increase your home’s value is by adding a small bathroom, even just a toilet/sink combo. This can be done fairly cheap depending on the layout of the house. I’ll be tackling this project in the next few months on my own house, adding a second bathroom right above the first floor bath. I expect the entire project to take less than $4,000 and I expect to increase the value of my house between $12,000 – $18,000.”
Follow Brandon at BiggerPockets.com or on Twitter @biggerpockets.
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Houselogic.com, the consumer homeownership site from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, recently named the most financially savvy home improvements you can make. Among the budget-minded upgrades:
  • Molding. Buyers rank the elegance of crown molding and chair rails among the most desirable features.
  • A patio. A simple patio adds living space without actually adding on, and it can return as much as 60% of its cost.
  • Ceiling fans. Another top decorative pick by buyers that also helps save on cooling costs.
In addition, year after year, “Remodeling” magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report” lists entry door and garage door replacements among its top value-adding projects under $5,000. Specifically, the report notes that on average nationally, a new steel front door can return about 100% of its cost and a garage door can return about 88%.
Find Houslogic.com on Twitter at @Houselogic.
Matt Flegal, PR director of Trulia, pointed us to a blog post on the Trulia website, The Best Remodeling Bang for Your Buck, which notes that your top 5 target projects to increase home value on a budget are the kitchen, master bath, paint, new carpet, and easy fixes for curb appeal. 
Find Trulia on Twitter at @Trulia.
Seth Williams from REtipster.com writes:
“Real estate is very much a game of perceived value. The best way to increase a buyer’s perceived value of your home is to give them an excellent visual portrayal of it. Put the extra effort into getting great pictures, invest in some professional photography if you have to (and maybe even some video if it makes sense). Help people to see the value in what your offering. When you give buyers a good visual portrayal of your property, you won’t have to do much “selling” because the property will sell itself.”
Find Seth on Twitter at @RETipsterSeth.
“It really depends on the size, type, and location of your home. First impression is critical. I would focus my investment on improving the appearance of my homes entry; painting the inside or exterior if within budget and improving the landscaping of the house. Also if budget is still available I would accessorize the outside to add some extra personality.”
Nellie is the CEO of CorpNet and can be found on Twitter at @CorpNetNellie.
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“I believe the way to increase value and interest in a home is to create “Wow!” The wow factor is the thing that attracts buyers to a home, regardless of price point. Of course, “The Wow Factor” in a $1M home and a home selling for $200,000 are probably completely different things. But a wow factor can be as simple as having nice granite in the kitchen and clean paint throughout the house. Maybe it is replacing all the sheet glass mirrors in the bath rooms with framed mirrors and adding fans to all the bed rooms. The wow will be different in every home, but selling a home with no Wow is a competitive challenge.”
Tim can be found on Ziprealty.com and also runs the blog Austin Real Estate Secrets. He can also be found on Twitter at @ZipAustin.
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“Five of the best ways to increase your home’s value for under $5,000 when you’re selling your home include:
  1. Declutter & stage: most buyers have a difficult time seeing past a cluttered home. This “free” activity can generate thousands in value.
  2. Take great photos: 90% of buyers start on the internet, so if your photos aren’t fantastic, you’ll get less interest in people seeing your home.
  3. Painting: Ensure the main entry ways and initial rooms look good. A fresh coat of paint can make a big difference.
  4. Power wash the driveway / front entrance: First impressions go a long way. Ensure the exterior of your home looks clean & fresh.
  5. Update old cabinet hardware: For a few hundred dollars, you can give the kitchens & bath and updated look.”
Paige is the owner of HoustonProperties.com and can be found on Twitter at @HoustonPaige.
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“It is easy to raise the value of a home $5,000 and here are some inexpensive ways to get it done:
  1. Industrial strength cleaning and decluttering: Clean the inside and remove items that are not actively being used on a regular basis. Cleaning needs to include every surface, every window, closets, etc.>
  2. Landscape & Exterior: You want your home to look awesome right from the curb or driveway so be sure to power wash your home, organize everything on the front porch, paint your front door red, and be sure you have a nice mail box and lighting in front of your home.
The next step would be to paint the inside and work on your flooring to be sure you maximize the visual experience in neutral colors throughout.”
Jim runs the Investing Now Network and can be found on Twitter at @InvestForever.
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  • “When you’re upgrading your home, you’ll get the most bang-for-your-buck with a kitchen remodel.
  • If your cabinets are still in good shape (no rot, mold, or wood splintering), you can keep your existing cabinets but change out the doors, which saves money, or you can spend a weekend re-painting your cabinets for even bigger savings.
  • Swap out the hinges and handles for updated styles from IKEA and replace the countertops with granite tile rather than granite slab. Add a backsplash in 3×6 ceramic, with a subway-style layout, for a look that’s trendy but still economical.
  • Voila — you’ve updated your kitchen, and by extension the value of your home, for less than $5,000.”
Paula runs the website Afford Anything and can be found on Twitter at @AffordAnything.
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“Sprucing up the front yard is a great way to add value to your home without spending a lot of money. Fresh mulch and some colorful flowers will really enhance your curb appeal and help you make a great first impression.”
David’s website is http://www.DavidWelch.com and he can be found on Twitter at @realtyoptimist.
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“If you only have $5000 to spruce up your home before you sell it, where should you invest that money? You can’t really do any major renovations, but you can get a lot of “wow” factor with this much cash.
One thing that makes the biggest impact on any home is a fresh coat of paint especially in the main living areas. You’ve already done that? Here are 6 additional tips for getting the most bang for your buck.
  1. Install new hardware on the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  2. Replace towel bars and other accessories in the bathrooms including the towels and the shower curtain. You want these areas to look brand new.
  3. Paint the front door and add new hardware. You never get a 2nd chance at a 1st impression.
  4. Paint or replace your mailbox.
  5. Replace any outdated light fixtures especially ones near the front door.
  6. Invest in your curb appeal. If the exterior your house doesn’t look inviting, you may lose potential buyers before you ever get the in the door. Put a fresh coat of paint on your shutters, add fresh mulch, take a close look at your landscaping on the front of the house, and add a big pot of flowers by the front door.
These are all pretty simple fixes guaranteed to make your house look like a million bucks.”
Sharon can be found at the Louisville Gals Real Estate Blog or on Twitter at @SVornholt.
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“One of the best ways to increase your home’s value for under $5,000 is to focus on the presentation of the interior of the home with updated flooring, interior paint, and fixtures. When a house looks clean, and begins to have a polished presentation with new fixtures, switch plates, fresh paint, refinished hardwood flooring, removal of popcorn ceiling texture, new ceiling fans, new baseboards, etc… buyers definitely notice. When a house is in “move-in” condition with the “small things” already taken care of, buyers tend to pay a premium.”
Ryan can be found at Sacramento Appraisal Blog or on Twitter at @SacAppraiser.
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  1. Paint!
  2. Declutter and clean everything.
  3. Clean all windows and open coverings to let in light.
  4. Plant – the outside should look appealing – plant flowers and have some by the door too (you can buy cheap pots)
  5. .If your home is not updated and the above will not do justice, the best place to spend the money is in the kitchen – new appliances and some staging can really help. If the cabinets look past their prime you can paint or refinish them and add inexpensive hardware to make a big difference. If the bathrooms need work try replacing old mirrors (you can find inexpensive framed ones at stores like Home Goods) and fixtures and painting cabinets.”
Rachel can be found online at LaMar Real Estate or on Twitter at @RachelLaMar_JD.
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“Starts with Curb appeal, prune the bushes, trim the trees, perhaps paint the trim and add some colorwith flowers. These are all cheap cosmetic repairs that will attract and maintain interest. Inside paint and upgrade old carpets, keep them light and neutral. Focus on kitchens and baths any upgrades needed perhaps new cabinet pulls and knobs and new counter tops. Add new lights as needed to create an open and bright home. Today’s buyers want open floor plans with lots of natural lights and move in ready homes. Any in expensive changes to highlight these attributes will bring in the larger sale price.”
Larry can be found at Equity Builder Group and on Twitter at @BuyUsRealEstate.
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  • “To increase value for home you are planning on selling, first focus on the exterior curb appeal: New front door, new garage door, exterior paint and getting the landscaping in tip top shape.
  • On the inside, cleaning and paint in neutral colors is your best bet followed by replacing outdated fixtures.
  • For a home you plan to stay in, increasing your home’s energy efficiency is going to be my suggestion. This could mean more insulation or replacing windows. LED lighting can seem expensive until you consider the savings and life span for LED bulbs.
  • Increasing your home’s energy efficiency may not sound exciting, but a penny saved is a penny earned!”
Find Mark at Ugly But Honest or on Twitter at @MarkBrian.
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“Cosmetic improvements like paint and light landscaping can certainly improve the curb appeal of your home, attracting more buyers.  Once they walk into the home, the biggest tell as to the age of your home is your kitchen.  With a $5,000 budget, you can replace the kitchen sink with a modern one, replace the countertops, and resurface your kitchen cabinets with new doors and veneer for that “new kitchen look”.  Even without modern appliances, this facelift will go a long way toward increasing your home’s appeal, and value.  Nothing brings in low offers faster than green formica counters and rickety kitchen cabinets”
Scott can be found at Broadview Mortgage or on Twitter at @ScottSchang.
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“The best way to increase a home’s value for under $5,000 is by adding additional legal living space. For instance, if there is an unfinished walk-up attic, finishing the space legally and adding the additional square footage is a great opportunity to make a home larger. This helps substantially when comparing square footage of a home to others that have recently sold that are comparable.”
Kyle’s runs Rochester Real Estate Blog and is on Twitter at @KyleHiscockRe.
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“Without a doubt one of the most cost effective ways to increase the value of a home is to spruce it up with a fresh coat of paint. There is nothing that will liven up a home more for short money than painting. This is especially true if the owner has wild colors and has not stayed neutral in their color schemes. Touching up dings in woodwork and walls also shows a buyer there is pride of ownership. Today’s buyers are looking for turn-key properties!”
Bill’s runs Max Real Estate Exposure and is on Twitter at @MassRealty.
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“When considering whether or not to add several thousand dollars in improvements to one’s home, there are numerous potential options such as new paint, landscaping additions to the front or rear yards, new windows, French doors or skylights which may better lighten up a room (brighter rooms tend to make a room or the entire home appear larger), updated kitchen appliances new flooring options or modernized faucets, showers, or sinks. Any updates to a home which make the property seem more modern, brighter, and easier to operate may add a return on the repair funds invested in amounts of 2, 5, or even 10 + times the actual money invested.”
Rick can be found online at The Credit Crisis or on Twitter at @RETobin.
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“I think the best way to increase a house’s value is to remodel the kitchen. With kitchen cabinets more affordable and laminate counters looking more like granite; it is very affordable to replace a kitchen. If you bought a new home or a newly remodeled home, then a new kitchen may not help, but most homeowners have houses with older kitchens.
Replace those old oak cabinets with nice modern maple cabinets, prefab granite like laminate counters and stainless steel appliances. If you choose wisely with your cabinets like a ready to assemble online store, with your counters like Home Depot or lowes and affordable appliances you should be right around $5,000.”
Mark’s website is Invest Four More and his Twitter profile is @InvestFourMore.
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“There are 2 angles to consider and both involve the easiest fix, paint. How it looks walking up and how fresh it is inside are very important to a buyer. I would spend the $5000 firstly by repainting the front rooms as you walk in, don’t worry about the back bedrooms, if the kitchen and living room are freshly painted it will smell good and appear very well kept. The front of the house and landscape are equally important, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Clean all landscaping, bring in new mulch in the beds, and make sure your lawn is always mowed and edged immaculately throughout the listing period. A good painter can color match your house color and even just repaint the front if there are any faded areas or watermarks. Buyers have about 3-4 minutes standing on your front porch as the agent fumbles with the lockbox, make sure as they look around everything is in order. A new mailbox, toe kick and house numbers are also very inexpensive.”
Tom’s Website is Green Button Homes and he can be found on Twitter at @TomTarrant.
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“The fastest way to boost your home’s value is to check the curb appeal first – you want to draw people into the home when it’s on the market. Once inside, having invested in floors and countertops is the least expensive face lift. If you have money left over, switching out the finishes (lights, plate covers, and so forth) makes any home stand out quickly.”
Benn can be found online at The American Genius or on Twitter at @BennRosales.
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“In my humble opinion, I think the best way to increase a home’s value is to make sure all countertops are granite or marble, and repaint outdated cabinets.”
Kristin can be found online at Charleston Inside Out or on Twitter at @ChaInsideOut.
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“New countertops in the kitchen – everybody loves a great kitchen.”
Jilliene can be found at Realty Mogul or on Twitter at @JillieneHelman.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to this post!  If you find this information useful, please share it, and if you have any tips on increasing a home’s value on the cheap, please leave a comment below.

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