If given five minutes to think about it, you could probably identify between three and five home improvement projects you would be happy to tackle in your home. But what happens when you’re on a super tight budget and your priority is to increase your home’s future sales value? We’ve collected 44 cheap ways to increase your home’s value with minimal talent and tools with the help of real estate agent Bryan Hill, who works with 78% more single-family homes than the average Los Angeles agent.
We will start with the premise that you have $2,000 to spend on your project. This should cover tools, materials, cleanup and any expenses the project will generate. The result is a spendthrift’s dream of home improvement possibilities.
Cheap ways to increase home values: Start with the exterior
1. Care for your front landscape
Mowing your lawn weekly, combined with seasonal shrub and tree pruning, will go a long way to make your home look cared for. Cost of weekly lawn mowing: $25. Cost of seasonal tree and shrub cleanup: $250.
2. Mulch at the start and end of the season
Mulch is a protective layer of material placed on top of the soil and around a plant or tree. Mulch serves a variety of purposes to help your landscape like: helping retain moisture and reduce your water bill, releasing nutrients into the soil to help your plants stay healthy, stop weeds from growing, and protecting plants from high and low temperatures. Cost of 2 cubic feet of mulch: $5.
3. Plant native perennials
To help keep costs low, choose native perennials that will come back year after year.
Native plants require less maintenance, water, and fertilizer than non-native plants. When you choose flowering perennials, stagger the blooming periods so you can have flowers and visual interest through spring, summer, and fall seasons.
If you choose non-flowering perennials, consider how the foliage can bring interest to your landscape through the changing seasons. Expect to pay $10-25 per plant and trees starting at $100.
4. Paint your front door, or one wall on your front elevation
Jake Merelli, co-owner of Property Pros, Inc., likes to talk about the quick improvement that paint color can bring to any area of your home. According to Reader’s Digest, painting your front door jet black or charcoal can make your home sell for more money.
5. Power-wash your fence
Forget about the cost of prepping and painting a fence. Power washing alone can be a huge difference-maker for your fencing. A gallon of premium exterior paint will cost around $40.
6. Stain and seal your fence
Over time, fence finishes can fade away, especially on west- and south-facing fencing. Staining and sealing your fence is a weekend project that you can complete with minimal tools and preparation. 5 gallons of premium cedar stain will cost around $160.
7. Replace broken rails and posts
Instead of tackling a full fence replacement, identify the individual rails and posts that need to be replaced. Individual cedar pickets will cost around $6 each.
8. Install solar lights
Upgrade your entire front yard by installing solar powered lights.
You can purchase a dozen for less than $30 and instantly elevate your walkway with absolutely no electrical work involved. Check your product to ensure that it will withstand minimum and maximum temperatures in your area.
9. Plant a tree
Most plant nurseries are happy to provide exact guidance on the perfect kind of tree for the space. Bring a picture of your yard, and during a weekday so the arborist has time to answer your questions and ask about coupons or offers that apply to your selected trees.
Nursery employees are happy to either deliver trees, or help you load the tree, and they typically guarantee their trees and shrubs for 12 months. You can ask for exact directions on how to plant, stake, and water your tree to ensure you’re successful. Don’t forget to call 811 before you dig, and also remember to ask your HOA for any guidelines on size, placement, or variety of trees allowed. Trees start at $100 depending on size and variety.
10. Power-wash your home
A small power washer can be used to clean your driveway, pathways, garage door, and walls to brighten the entire curb appeal.
Cheap ways to increase home values: Clean and declutter
It might seem like an obvious thing to spend your time on, but cleanliness is a factor to consider when improving your home.
According to the HomeLight 2019 Q1 Top Agent Insights Survey, real estate agents estimate that deep cleaning and decluttering can increase your home value by a combined $4,500 for a minimal time and product expense.
Hill recommends focusing on making the kitchens and bathrooms look as nice as possible. Sometimes this can be accomplished with just some elbow grease and upkeep.
11. Clean like a pro, or hire one to do it
A deep clean that involves moving and cleaning underneath and behind all the large furniture and appliances, baseboards, closets, ceiling fans, and windows is something you should do two to three times a year to keep your home feeling clean and well-maintained. A professional deep cleaning can cost anywhere between $250-$450 depending on the square footage.
12. Take care of your indoor plants
Make sure your plants have proper pots and soil quantities.
Water on a schedule.
Shine the leaves and remove any dead limbs or foliage.
Choose decorative pots that coordinate with your home decor.
Happy plants make for a happy-looking house!
13. Change your furnace or HVAC filter
Changing your air filter periodically helps your home feel fresher, and it helps less dust from traveling in the air and getting your surfaces dirty. A brand new HVAC air filter starts at around $5 for a basic model. Purchasing in bulk always gets you better pricing.
14. Run an air purifier in your rooms
When you use an air filter to trap air pollutants, you can help your home feel fresher and cleaner. It can also diminish cooking and pet smells, capture and trap mold and particles, and overall improve your health.
Instead of purchasing multiple air filters, you can purchase one high-quality unit ($200) and move it from room to room.
15. Wash the windows
Scheduling a deep window washing and screen cleaning twice a year helps your rooms feel brighter, improves your curb appeal, and keeps your windows in good working condition for longer. Professional window washers charge for the number of windows, and number of stories in your home. Expect to pay $200-$450.
16. Polish and condition hardwood flooring
Polishing your hardwood floors is way less expensive than refinishing them, and it brings back the shine while extending the life of your flooring.
Make sure you test your flooring finishes before getting started in order to select the right products for the job. Selecting the wrong polish can damage your hardwood floors and cost more money for repairs. Purchase a 32 ounce bottle for around $30.
17. Deep clean your carpets
No matter the original price tag of your carpets, keeping them clean and maintaining them properly can extend their life and keep them looking good for years to come.
Past the weekly vacuuming, make sure you attend to spots stains quickly with proper products, and twice a year, deep-clean with a vinegar solution, baking soda and salt, or steam.
18. Clean the grout
Whether you have tile in the bathrooms, kitchen, flooring, or laundry rooms, cleaning the tile grout can make your rooms feel brand-new again for a few dollars spent in cleaning materials.
According to the experts at Stanley Steamer, grout can be cleaned easily with baking soda, hot water, vinegar, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide.
19. Refresh the caulking
Cracked or stained caulking along your floorboards or tile can make a room feel dirty and dingy, even if the surfaces are clean and well-maintained.
A quick and inexpensive maintenance project is to completely remove the cracked and/or stained caulk from your surfaces using a putty knife and some elbow grease, disinfect (if the caulk is used in a wet room) to kill any mold spores, and reapply new caulk once the surface is completely dry.
The freshly applied caulk will make your rooms feel brand-new. Just make sure to pick the right kind of caulk for the space. Complete this job for less than $100 in materials including caulk, putty knife and premium caulk gun.
20. Clean your pet areas
Your pet may be your best friend, but visitors and potential buyers might not feel the love for Fido. Once a month, deep-clean their bedding and vacuum their sleeping quarters; once a week, put their dishes in the dishwasher, and make sure you vacuum pet hair from all surfaces to avoid pet smells from settling into your home.
21. Degrease your kitchen surfaces
Even if you keep a clean home and cook relatively healthy food, grease from cooking can deposit and accumulate in out-of-the-way areas of your kitchen.
Remembering to keep your kitchen surfaces degreased will help avoid smells and keep your cabinets and paint in good shape. Dawn Heavy-Duty Degreaser is an easy and safe way to clean your kitchen cabinets, kitchen walls, appliance surfaces, backsplash, and counters to easily cut through grease.
Cheap ways to increase home values: Easy DIY projects for beginners
When it comes to actual projects that involve improvements, Hill says he would spend his money on a combination of the following.
22. Install updated window treatments to allow for natural light
Show off your clean windows by letting light in.
Installing updated window treatments is a great way to show off your room. After all, making your rooms look bright and light is always a staging trick that real estate agents recommend. Measure yourself and have the attendant cut faux wood blinds to size at your local big box store for around $60 per window.
23. Update the flooring
“If I had any carpet in the house,” says Hill, “I would get rid of it, and I would put luxury vinyl flooring in there.” He points out the exact material will depend on the home and comps in the area, but if you have an entry-level home, a condo, or a townhome, then you can get away with this inexpensive upgrade that’s also extremely easy to DIY, as luxury vinyl tile doesn’t require power tools for installation. Luxury vinyl tile can be purchased for as low as $2 per square foot.
24. Paint the inside
Start by repainting any bright or odd-colored rooms. Pick a calm neutral that works with the lighting in your spaces. Limit the number of paint colors to no more than three from room to room to help your spaces feel cohesive. A gallon of premium interior paint will cost around $40.
25. Paint your kitchen cabinets
Before you decide to tear out your old-fashioned cabinets, consider how far you can take them with paint. Properly prepare all surfaces and pick a neutral color to maximize the brightness of the room. A gallon of premium cabinet paint will cost around $40.
26. Remove popcorn ceilings
Popcorn ceilings will definitely show the age of your room. Removing them is time-consuming and exhausting, but it absolutely pays off in the updated value of your home.
This might not be a project you want to tackle yourself; it involves covering and protecting all surfaces in your space, removing furniture, testing for asbestos, wetting the ceiling, and scraping the texture off. If scraping is out of the question, you can sacrifice an inch off the height of the room and install a different surface along the top, like beadboard. According to HomeAdvisor, simple popcorn ceiling removal will cost around $2 per square foot.
27. Remove old wallpaper
Even though it had a resurgence in popularity in the last few years, experts feel wallpaper dates the home and implies to potential homebuyers that maintenance must be done to remove it. According to Home Depot, you can expect to pay around $4 per square foot of wallpaper removal.
Before installing new wallpaper in its place, consider the location of the wallpaper, the design, and the age and style of the home. Consider installing removable wallpaper instead, which will deliver the visual impact but also be really easy to remove when the time comes.
28. Add ceiling fans
Even though interior designers shun ceiling fans for being noisy and bright, ceiling fans bring comfort and air flow to a room. They can add value to the house and improve the way you live in your space. According to Home Depot, a new ceiling fan installation will cost from $100 to $300 depending on ceiling height and the complexity of the installation.
29. Install recessed lighting
Properly installed recessed lighting can be used for general or task-specific lighting in your home. If you have an existing fixture in the space, you can probably retrofit the area to a recessed can light.
If you don’t, you should consider hiring a professional to do the installation for you, to make sure your project is up to code and is not a safety hazard. Expect to pay around $360 for one recessed light plus installation.
30. Update light fixtures
Look up at your ceilings and determine whether your light fixtures fit your overall style and decor. If they don’t, a quick swap might mean your room feels updated and freshly renovated.
Existing light fixtures are easily swapped by turning off the breaker for the area of the home you’re in and following the manufacturer’s instructions for the replacement lamp. You usually only need electrical tape and a couple different screwdriver sizes to complete an installation.
31. Upgrade your bulb temperature
Consider the proper bulb temperature for the way you use the space and install new bulbs accordingly. Cool whites in the 3000K range offer a warm, welcoming white ambiance and can be used in overhead lights in most areas of your home.
Warm whites, in the 2700K range, are cozy and inviting and are best used in table and floor lamps as well as pendants and chandeliers. Daylight bulbs are in the 5000K range, and these offer cool daylight best appreciated in garages and storage areas. A 24-pack of long lasting LED light bulbs will cost around $21.
32. Update doorknobs
Updating interior doorknobs is a simple project that involves purchasing new knobs from your favorite online or home improvement store and replacing them. Interior doorknobs in a variety of finishes can be purchased $5 each.
33. Swap out switch plates and outlet covers
Like the door knob project, updating your switchplates and outlet covers is a weekend project any homeowner can do with just a flathead screwdriver.
Think outside the box with stone, wood, or metal faceplates that match your personality. Cover plates start at $5 each.
34. Install closet organizers
Take your closet spaces from blah to custom and hop aboard the home organizing trend by upgrading your closets: add a few shelves, drawers, and hanging rods. While the average project price tag of $2,040 nationally is slightly above our budget for this article, stores like IKEA offer out-of-the-box closet systems that can compete with the best custom systems and only require minimal tools to assemble. Their on-site closet planners will help you generate a shopping list, teach you how to measure your space, and plan for your specific needs. A basic closet organizer for a primary walk-in closet starts around $450.
35. Turn an office or a den into a bedroom by adding a closet
Adding a closet to a room with a door and a fully functioning window can turn that room into a conforming bedroom.
36. Upgrade your insulation
Adding insulation to your attic or walls means your heating and cooling bills will be lower. While it’s an improvement that you cannot see, you will definitely feel it in the winter and summer months.
37. Teach your home new tricks
Investing in smart home technology can help improve your spaces and make your home “work” for you.
Smart thermostats, security cameras, camera doorbells, smart smoke detectors, and other tech gadgets used in your home means less time worrying whether you turned off your lights or your packages that are waiting on your doorstep.
Cheap ways to increase home values in the bathroom and kitchen
38. Turn your shower into a spa
Upgrade your shower head and improve your water flow to elevate your showering experience. In many cases, upgrading a shower head is as easy as unscrewing the existing one and replacing it with a different model.
39. Replace bathroom tile floor
This is messy, and it means your bathroom will be out of service for a few weeks, but teaching yourself how to tile a floor and putting in the sweat equity means you will reap the benefits of the improved surface.
Pick neutral finishes and make sure you rent a good tile cutter for quality finishes. HGTV estimates a tile floor installation plus materials will cost $7-$14 per square foot. The best bang for your buck? Learn to do it yourself.
40. Upgrade your bathroom mirrors
“We usually remove the full-wall, builder-grade mirror from the bathroom wall, refinish the wall, and install a hanging mirror,” says Hill of his own remodel projects.
It helps the home feel more custom and elevates the finish of the space. If you don’t want to remove the mirror, you can always add a frame to the existing mirror by using pre-made kits.
41. Upgrade your cabinet doors
Both in kitchens and bathrooms, upgrading your cabinet doors can mean refreshing the entire space without spending the money to remove and replace the entire cabinet unit, plus plumbing expenses.
This process is also known as cabinet refacing, and new cabinet doors can be ordered online without the upcharges of going through a contractor.
42. Update your cabinet door handles
Like jewelry, cabinet door handles can help change the look and feel of your bathroom or kitchen without much work. Simply unscrew the existing handles and install new ones.
Better Homes and Gardens has a great tutorial on how to upgrade your cabinetry.
43. Finish a previously unfinished space
Have an attic, basement, or above-the-garage space that sits unfinished? Adding living space to your home ranks in the top 10 interior projects that will add value to your home and increase buyer interest in it when the time comes to sell, according to the National Association of Realtors. The average cost to finish a previously unfinished space is $25 per square foot.
44. Upgrade one appliance
Upgrade your oldest appliance to a new and more efficient model. This will likely save you some money on your utility bills, too!
Curious about how these ways to increase your home’s value apply to you? Contact your real estate agent and ask! The best way to determine if an improvement will actually improve the value of your home is to hear from the experts who know what features most interest the buyers in your area.
Header Image Source: (Zac Gudakov / Unsplash)